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Niche Red Challenge 2021

Over the years I have always had a fascination with the lesser known varieties of the world of wine, whenever a new one pops up in South Africa I will go out of my way to purchase a bottle.  During the organising of the Blend Challenge I was intrigued to see many of the wines submitted were Petit Verdot led also Tannat and Zinfandel.  The beauty about the smaller varieties is that when a winery bottles the wine as a single variety wine, it is because the quality is outstanding, this has been proven with the judging of Cabernet Franc and Malbec – the majority of the wines entered are of a high quality and stunning wines to drink.

So far we have tasted and judged Cabernet Franc; Malbec and Viognier – Now I would like to open the doors to all other Red Niche Varieties grown and bottled in South Africa.  The varieties excluded will be Cabernet Franc; Malbec and Pinot Noir. 

For your convenience please download the entry form and rules below:

Each variety will be tasted together and will be discussed before moving on to the next variety.   

Red Blends Challenge 2021

Blends are a work of Art where the winemaker is the Artist

The Inaugural Red Blend Challenge judging took place in Edgemead.

The increasing effect of the pandemic continues to be felt and hit close to home as one of the Gauteng based judges was unable to attend. The panel was thus reduced to 4 made up of  Sommelier  Spencer Fondaumiere as the chair, respected journalists Jono LeFeurve and Malu Lambert and wine maker Praisy Dlamini.

The wines were judged blind using the 100 points scoring system. To keep the playing field as fair as possible no other information was available other than the makeup of the blends were available at the time of judging. In the subsequent panel discussions the basic blend components was available on request. The scoring bands were adjudicated as follows:

There are wines which were awarded medals to suit everybody’s pocket.

90+ Gold medal

80-89 Silver medal

70-79 Bronze medal

There were an encouraging number of entries for these trying times, 46 in total. Cabernet Sauvignon driven blends had the biggest representation with 13 in total, closely followed by Shiraz with 8 and Pinotage with 7. There were also notable interesting blends led by Tannat and Mourvedre. The wines were from a geographically broad spread with wines from the Klein Karoo to Bot River and everything in between.

The overall quality was excellent with no wines being excluded as faulty. Also a very pleasing indicator of the quality was that of the 46 entries 13 were awarded gold a return of 30%.

Judging blends is always challenging as the scope is quite wide with various styles and expressions, but the cream rises to the top regardless and the panel was able to pick out some really excellent wines.

Gold Medals  (in alphabetical order) 90+pts

  • Babylonstoren Nebukanesar 2019
  • Blaauwklippen Die Blaauwe Klip 2017
  • Druk My Niet T3 2014
  • Ernie Els Proprietor’s Blend 2017
  • Hillcrest Altantic Slopes Hornfels 2015
  • Jakkalsvlei Mount Cuvée Cape Blend 2020
  • Leipzig Grand Master 2018
  • Lovane Isikhati 2018
  • Mitre’s Edge The Mitre 2017
  • My Wyn Les Grandes Horizontales 2016
  • Perdeberg The Dry Land Collection Joseph’s Legacy 2018
  • Silkbush Altitude 2018
  • Silkbush Hillside Red 2018

Silver Medals (Alphabetical Order) 80 – 89pts

  • Aden’s Star 2018
  • Allée Bleue L’Amour Toujours 2016
  • Arra Cape Blend 2014
  • Aslina Umsasane 2019
  • Babylonstoren Babel 2020
  • Bergsig Icarus 2017
  • Bob’s Your Uncle Head Over Heels Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot NV
  • Du Toitskloof Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2019
  • Du Toitskloof Dimension 2017
  • Du Toitskloof Pinotage Merlot Ruby Cabernet 2020
  • Du Toitskloof Quest 2018
  • Flagstone Dragon Tree Cape Blend 2019
  • Flagstone Treaty Tree Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec Merlot 2019
  • Le Pommier Cabernet Franc Malbec 2019
  • Leipzig Master Blend 2018
  • Louisvale Boris 2018
  • Louisvale Dominique 2018
  • Mountain Ridge Vino Rood 2018
  • Niel Joubert Cinsaut Grenache 2020
  • Rhebokskloof The Rhebok 2018
  • Rosendal Reserve Aquataine 2019
  • Silver Myn Argentum 2020
  • Thokozani SMV 2019
  • Viljoensdrift River Grandeur Cape Blend 2019
  • Wildekrans Cape Blend 2018
  • Wildekrans Cape Blend Barrel Select Reserve 2017
  • Wildekrans Deep Purple 2019

Blends Challenge 2021

Blends are a work of Art where the winemaker is the artist.

After a very difficult 2020 we would like to assist with marketing your wines.

We have been approached to run a Blends Challenge 2021 to put the spotlight on ALL blends.  Many consumers relate to blends as cheaper wines even though many of the  iconic wines are blends. 

We will be beginning with ALL Red blends and will be tasting White and Rosé Blends later this year.

The challenge will be given plenty of exposure by The BizNews community and various other platforms. 

The Judging panel will consist of 5 experienced professional tasters. The tasting will be blind and audited by Cecil Kilpin and Co. Every step will be taken to ensure that the wines are judged in optimum conditions and guarantee no glass taint. Entry Fee R750.00 per entry and two bottles of the wine for the judging. No other samples will be required. We do require that the winery has a minimum of 100 x 6 pack cases available for sale to the consumer at the time of judging which will take place on 22nd June 2021. The results will be published shortly after the judging.

For more information please contact Celia Gilloway at 082 782 1977 or celia@eventsbycelia.com

Viognier Challenge 2021

The inaugural Viognier Challenge was held at Vrede and Lust on Tuesday March 16th 2021.

There were 24 entries of single variety wines, with no limitation made on whether they were oaked or not.

The wines were judged blind, using the international 100 point system. The 5-person panel consisted of Christine Rudman (Chairperson); Michael Bampfield-Duggan; Greg Mutambe; Samarie Smith and Malu Lambert.

They were given no indication of origin or vintage, or whether then wines were oaked. No discussion was permitted during the tasting, with a general report of overall impressions taking place afterwards. The tasting was audited by Cecil Kilpin & Company.

The high number of gold medals awarded (75 %) reflect the quality of the entries. According to Christine Rudman, the panel particularly approved of the wide variety of styles, from fragrant and elegantly charming, to food-friendly and fresh, to bold and impressive. Viognier’s different personalities as reflected in this tasting made it an attractive alternative to other white varieties.

The wines were all dry and mainly from the 2020 vintage.

Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek and Western Cape dominated the origins.

Golden Medals (Alphabetical Order)

  • Alvi’sdift Signature Viognier 2020
  • Arendsig 1000 Vines Viognier 2020
  • De Grendel Viognier 2020
  • Idiom Viognier 2018
  • Idiom Viognier 2019
  • JailBreak Viognier 2019
  • La Petite Ferme Viognier 2020
  • Leipzig Viognier 2020
  • Lowerland Witgat Viognier 2020
  • Lynx Viognier 2020
  • Mellasat Viognier 2018
  • Mitre’s Edge Viognier 2020
  • MyWyn Single Barrel Viognier 2020    
  • Painted Wolf Penny Viognier 2018
  • Ridgeback Viognier 2020
  • The Drift Mary le Bow Viognier 2019
  • The Fledge & Co Elgin Reserve Viognier 2020

Malbec 2020 Challenge Awards

At the awards function held at 96 Winery Road outside Somerset West on Thursday 15th October, the winner of the 2020 Malbec Challenge was announced. First time entry Mount Vernon 2015 Malbec was the highest scoring wine in the line-up of 21 wines. There were 11 gold medals awarded, including Mount Vernon, well up on the five in 2019, a recognition of the quality of the wines and growing expertise of the winemakers.

Despite the Lockdown challenges, the 21 entries compares favourably with 26 last year, (which included multiple vintages), and while seven of those producers didn’t have wine to enter this year, that was compensated by 11 new producers who entered their wines in the 2020 Challenge. It bodes well for the future, for when things get back to normal, that there is such a high level of interest.  

The Challenge was organised by Celia Gilloway of Events by Celia.

Once again, judging was done blind (no origin or vintage given) by a panel of five tasters using the international 100 point system, and took place on September 29th. The panel, chaired by Cape Wine Master Christine Rudman, consisted of Anton Swarts, Cape Wine Master and senior winemaker at Spier in Stellenbosch; award-winning wine and food writer Malu Lambert, all of whom had judged in 2019; Samarie Smith, ex-editor of Versnit in Die Burger and currently PR consultant for the Cape Winemakers Guild; and Johannesburg-based sommelier Tinashe Nyamudoka, founder of Kumusha Wines.

When asked what had inspired them to plant Malbec at Mount Vernon, the answer from Debbie Hooper, cellarmaster and co-owner with husband Dave, was that it was on the advice of Walter Finlayson. That was in 1999/2000, and while initially they shared early harvests with David and Walter at Glen Carlou, as their own demand increased, the full crop was harvested for Mount Vernon.

Plantings nationwide are still small, well under 1% of vineyards, and production is limited.

A juicy, soft-skinned variety, Malbec requires care in the vineyard to avoid over-cropping or sunburn damage, and in the cellar quick and careful fermentation to prevent oxidation. The winning gold medal wines used either only older oak or a combination of new and used barrels, to showcase the succulent drinkability part of its character.

The competition has a generous sponsor, RX South Africa, agents of Tonnellerie de Mercurey wine barrels, an internationally respected family-owned specialist business based in France. The oak comes from three different forests, to create a wide range of barrel styles and qualities for international wine cellar requirements, with the stave mill located in Champagne.

Mount Vernon’s prize is a free new barrel, size of their choice, while additionally, RX South Africa provided funding for the Awards function.

WINNER
Mount Vernon Malbec 2015

GOLD (alphabetical order)
Anura Reserve Malbec 2017
Bellevue Malbec 2017
Benguela Cove Malbec 2018
Bizoe Idioglossia Malbec 2018
Bushmanspad Malbec 2018
Mitre’s Edge Malbec 2018
Morgenhof Vintage Select Malbec 2014
Sol & Pieter Willem Eksteen Nosotros 2018
Ondine Malbec 2018
Sonklip Malbec 2018


SILVER (alphabetical order)
Akkerdal Malbec 2015
Blaauwklippen Malbec 2019
Diemersdal Malbec 2019
Enfin Alice Malbec 2017
Hildenbrand Single Vineyard Malbec 2018
Hillcrest Saartjie Single Vineyard selection Malbec 2018
Le Pommier Jonathan’s Malbec 2019
Perdeberg The Vineyard Collection Malbec 2019
Rustenberg Stellenbosch Malbec 2019

The winning wine and the gold medalists

Winner and Gold Medalists receiving their certificates.

Social Photographs taken at the lunch

MY WYN WINS INAUGURAL CAB FRANC TROPHY

2 Septembert 2020

My Wyn, a small winery in the hills of Franschhoek, has won the inaugural Cobie van Oort Cabernet Franc Trophy for the highest score during the 2020 Cab Franc Challenge. 

For the first time since the inception of the Challenge in 2016, it was decided to award the highest scoring wine overall with a floating trophy.  This trophy is called the Cobie van Oort Cab Franc Challenge Trophy and the inaugural winner is My Wyn from Franschhoek.  Winemaker Jacoline Haasbroek felt it was a great honour and the trophy will be displayed in her tasting room for the next year!  Cobie passed away suddenly on 24 June and a suggestion was made to create this award in her legacy. 

Cobie, who together with Celia Gilloway from Events by Celia, started the Cabernet Franc Challenge in 2016 with 33 entries, which has subsequently grown by more than 50%. 

Celia suggested that a trophy, in honour of Cobie, would let her legacy live on in the minds and hearts of all producers and Cab Franc Lovers.  Cobie was extremely passionate about the varietal and felt that something had to be done to expose this “Bordeaux Grape” to a much bigger audience.  Cobie also initiated the first Cab Franc Carnival, which was held at Avontuur Estate in 2015.

The Cabernet Franc Challenge is a 100% blind tasting, judged by 5 well respected and experienced tasters from the industry.  This year’s panel was once again led by Chair Christine Rudman, Greg Mutambe, Malu Lambert, Lizette Tolken and Fiona McDonald.

Christine commented on the 2020 Challenge with the following:: “There were 52 entries, the same as in 2019, and while many of the previous winners participated, there were also some new entries. Judging out of 100.

With Covid 19 putting a stop to large gatherings of people and therefore making it impossible to host the 2020 Cabernet Franc Carnival at the Vrede en Lust winery in the Franschhoek Region, Cab Franc Lovers’ will need to wait until 2021 to attend this very popular event.

CAB FRANC CHALLENGE 2020 WINNERS ANNOUNCED

The 5th Cabernet Franc Challenge impressed with 52 entries (the same number as in 2019), with many wines entered by previous participants and a few new wineries who took the plunge this year. Winners were announced in the Top 6 Category, the Blends Category and the Vintage Category.  A Best Value Winner was also again selected by the organisors.  Thirty-Six additional Gold medals were awarded across all categories as well.

The Top 6 winners (in alphabetical order) are:  Anthology Cabernet Franc 2017, David Finlayson Camino Africana Cabernet Franc 2017, High Constantia Cabernet Franc 2012, Rainbow’s End Limited Release Cabernet Franc 2018, Rietvallei JMB Cabernet Franc 2016 and Whalehaven Cabernet Franc 2015

Cape Wine Master and head of the judging panel since the start of the competition,  Christine Rudman commented about the geographical spread of entries; “Once again Stellenbosch, with the most plantings, dominated, but Franschhoek and Paarl had a significant number of entries. The rest came from Robertson, Darling, Elgin, Bot River, Constantia, Cape Town/Durbanville, Wellington and Coastal. Of the 31 producers represented, 13 entered more than one wine, showing a growing Cabernet Franc specialisation.”

The vintage winner for this year is My Wyn Cabernet Franc 2012 from Franschhoek, which was supported by excellent Gold Medal entrants in this category. The panel was particularly impressed by the 6 older wines (vintages 2012 – 2015), proving just how well Cabernet Franc with good credentials can age. The wines were delicious, in perfect drinking condition, yet still had a cellaring future.

Three winners emerged in the Blends Category. They are Landskroon Paul Hugo Red 2018, Morgenster Lourens River Valley 2011 and Warwick Trilogy 2016.  The Best Value Award was given to Ondine Cabernet Franc 2015 by Darling stalwart Ormonde Vineyards, which retails at R115 per bottle.

The judging panel was made up of Christine Rudman, Lizette Tolken, Greg Mutambe, Fiona McDonald and Malu Lambert.  Christine explains a bit more about the judging procedure: “Judging out of 100, the panellists were given no origin or vintage information, except being told the category – older wines, blends, main entries. The only discussion permitted was after the tasting, where general comments were asked for.”

“In the main judging category, the panel looked for attributes that define the variety, giving it uniquely its own personality. There were fewer herbaceous notes across the range than in 2019, a reflection of the vintages, mainly 2017, with some 2018 and 2016. The best wines had balance, elegance, suppleness and complexity, showing layers of fruit and tertiary perfumes and flavours,” she commented.

The judging took place at Cab Franc Carnival 2020 sponsor and venue host Vrede en Lust Estate in Simondium on Tuesday, 17 March.  The results were independently audited and verified by Cecil Kilpin & Co. The Top 6 can be tasted in two tutored tasting sessions at this year’s Cab Franc Carnival, which takes place at Vrede en Lust Estate on Saturday, 22 August from 11h00-16h00. Tickets for the event and the intimate tutored tasting sessions can be purchased from www.plankton.mobi.

TOP SIX SINGLE VARIETALS (ALPHABETICAL)

Anthology Cabernet Franc 2017

David Finlayson Camino Africana Cabernet Franc 2017

High Constantia Cabernet Franc 2012

Rainbow’s End Limited Release Cabernet Franc 2018

Rietvallei JMB Cabernet Franc 2016

Whalehaven Cabernet Franc 2015

VINTAGE – WINNER

My Wyn Cabernet Franc 2012

TOP THREE BLENDS  (ALPHABETICAL)

Landskroon Paul Hugo Red 2018

Morgenster Lourens River Valley 2011

Warwick Trilogy 2016

BEST VALUE – WINNER

Ondine Cabernet Franc 2015

GOLD MEDALS SINGLE VARIETAL (ALPHABETICAL)

Chamonix Cabernet Franc 2016

Druk My Niet Cabernet Franc 2014

High Constantia Cabernet Franc 2015

Hillcrest Saartjie Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2018

Jordan Cabernet Franc 2018

Journey’s End V5 Cabernet Franc 2017

Kleinhoekkloof Cabernet Franc 2016

KWV The Mentors Cabernet Franc 2017

KWV The Mentors Cabernet Franc 2018

Leipzig Cabernet Franc 2019

Linton Park Louis Fourie Reserve Cabernet Franc 2017

Lisha Nelson Cabernet Franc 2018

Mitre’s Edge Cabernet Franc 2017

Mont du Toit Les Coteaux Cabernet Franc 2017

Môreson Cabernet Franc 2017

Morgenster Cabernet Franc 2018

My Wyn Cabernet Franc 2016

Raats Dolomite Cabernet Franc 2017

Raats Dolomite Cabernet Franc 2018

Raats Family Cabernet Franc 2016

Raats Family Cabernet Franc 2017

Rainbow’s End Cabernet Franc 2017

Rainbow’s End Cabernet Franc 2018

Ridgeback Cabernet Franc 2016

Ridgeback Cabernet Franc 2017

Vrede en Lust Artisan Range Cabernet Franc 2016

Whalehaven Cabernet Franc 2014

Wildekrans Reserve Barrel Select Cabernet Franc 2018

VINTAGE GOLD MEDALS (ALPHABETICAL)

Holden Manz Reserve Cabernet Franc 2015

Rietvallei JMB Cabernet Franc 2014

Whalehaven Cabernet Franc 2013

BLENDS GOLD MEDALS (ALPHABETICAL)

Chamonix Troika 2017

Landskroon Cabernet Franc Merlot 2018

My Wyn Les Grandes Horizontales 2016

Raats Jasper Red Blend 2017

Ridgeback Journey 2017

Malbec Challenge 2019 Awards

On Tuesday December 3rd , the five gold medallists of the 2019 Malbec Challenge were announced at a function at The Wood Mill in Stellenbosch. The winning wines were Mitre’s Edge 2017 (also the top scorer); Blake’s Single Vineyard 2018 (only to be released in 2020); Bizoe Idioglossla 2017; Bellevue 2016 and Neethingshof 2013.

The Challenge judging by a panel of five tasters using the international 100 point system had taken place on November12th. The panel, chaired by Cape Wine Master Christine Rudman, consisted of Anton Swarts, Cape Wine Master and senior winemaker at Spier in Stellenbosch; award-winning wine and food writer Malu Lambert; Nomonde Kubheka ex-KWV winemaker and currently training facilitator for Winetech; and sommelier/wine writer Barry Scholfield.

There were 26 entries, just under half of all the single varietal Malbec bottlings on the market.

When asked what had inspired them to plant Malbec, the answers from the winemakers had a common theme, either for it to be part of the classic 5-variety Bordeaux blend, in the case of Lola Nicholls of Mitre’s Edge and Wilhelm Kritzinger of Bellevue, or because they had visited countries where Malbec is widely grown and were impressed by it.

Andries Blake of Blake Family Wines’ love affair with Malbec started about 10 years ago on a visit to Argentina, while Rikus Neethling of Bizoe remembers  the variety from a trip to Buenos Aires, deciding there and then to include it in their range. Bizoe buys in grapes, which for the winning 2017 vintage came from Swartland and Stellenbosch. De Wet Viljoen’s discovery was in the Cahors in France, where he and his wife went for their honeymoon.

A juicy, soft-skinned variety, Malbec requires care in the vineyard to avoid over-cropping or sunburn damage, and in the cellar quick and careful fermentation to prevent oxidation. The winning wines used either only older oak or a combination of new and used barrels, to showcase the succulent drinkability part of its character.

Plantings are still small, well under 1% of vineyards, and production is limited, except for Bellevue which is also to be found in Woolworths.

The competition has a generous sponsor, RX South Africa, agents of Tonnellerie de Mercurey wine barrels, an internationally respected family-owned specialist business based in France. The oak comes from three different forests, to create a wide range of barrel styles and qualities for international wine cellar requirements, with the stave mill located in Champagne.

Mitre’s Edge’s prize is a free new barrel, size of their choice, while all participants in the competition have been offered a 7.5% discount on barrel purchases for the 2020 season. In addition, funding was provided for the Awards function.

Finally, on a personal note, the Idioglossla part of Bizoe Malbec’s name refers to the language of twins, the 6 year-old boys of Rikus and Estalet Neethling, while Andries Blake has named his second boat Malbec, a name his first boat also carried.

and the sponsors’ are:

and the winner is: Mitre’s Edge for their Malbec 2017

and the Gold Medallists are:

Bellevue Malbec 2016
Bizoe Idioglossla Malbec 2017
Blake’s Single Vineyard Malbec 2018
Neethingshof Malbec 2013

Wilhelm Kritzinger winemaker – Bellevue Estate
Rikus Neethling Winemaker/Owner – Bizoe Wines
Marinda Blake – Blake’s Family Vineyards
De Wet Viljoen – Winemaker Neethlingshof Estate

and the Silver Medallists are:

Sonklip Malbec 2017
Ondine Malbec 2018
Diemersfontein Woolworths Reserve Malbec 2017
Kevin King BBK 2016
Diemersdal Malbec 2017
Benguela Cove Malbec 2017
Stellekaya Malbec 2018
Blake’s Malbec 2018
Neethlingshof Malbec 2018
Vergenoegd Löw Malbec 2015
Diemersfontein Carpe Diem Malbec 2017
Stellekaya Malbec 2017
Le Pommier Jonathan’s Malbec 2018
Perdeberg The Vineyard Collection Malbec 2018
Diemersdal Malbec 2018

Malbec Challenge 2019

The Malbec Challenge Wine Competition 2019

Responding to producer requests, Celia Gilloway of Events by Celia organised a Malbec tasting competition which was judged on November 12th at Mitre’s Edge in Stellenbosch by an experienced panel of five. There were 26 entries out of the 55 single bottlings listed in the 2020 Platter Guide, making it admirably well-subscribed for its first appearance. The winners will be announced at an Awards lunch presided over by Chef Craig Cormack, at The Wood Mill in Stellenbosch on Tuesday December 3rd.

The judging was done blind with no origin or vintage revealed, using the international 100 point system and was overseen by an auditor from Cecil Kilpin & Co. There were five gold medals awarded, which included a clear winner, and 15 silvers. Entries came mainly from Stellenbosch and its wards, and also from Darling, Elgin, Walker Bay, Franschhoek, Paarl, Cape Town/Durbanville, Coastal and Western Cape.

The panel, chaired by Cape Wine Master Christine Rudman, consisted of Anton Swarts, Cape Wine Master and senior winemaker at Spier in Stellenbosch; award-winning wine and food writer Malu Lambert; Nomonde Kubheka ex-KWV and currently training facilitator for Winetech and the Pinotage Youth Development Academy; and sommelier/wine writer Barry Scholfield. There was consensus on the top five wines, and all the other scores fell within a narrow band.

The competition has a generous sponsor, RX South Africa, agents of Tonnellerie de Mercury wine barrels, an internationally respected family-owned specialist business based in France. The oak comes from three different forests, to create a wide range of barrel styles and qualities for international wine cellar requirements, with the stave mill located in Champagne.

The winning Malbec’s producer gets a free new barrel, size of their choice, while all participants in the competition have been offered a 7.5% discount on barrel purchases for the 2020 season. In addition, funding has been provided for the Awards function.