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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.