Thursday, June 05, 2014

CAPPA Challenge 2014 – Highlighting the best of the best

The third Cape Port Producers’ Association (CAPPA) Challenge highlights the very best Cape “Port” and Portuguese varietal table wines, showcasing the enviable variety and sheer quality these wines offer the consumer. This year, the overall CAPPA Challenge Trophy went to the Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve 2011, while the top scoring Top 10 table wine went to the Boplaas Tinta Barocca 2013.
Although the Portuguese varietal table wines, blends and Cape fortifieds represent a niche in the Cape’s wine landscape, it is doubtless that there is a category possessing such a grand heritage and reputation for delivering world class wines. So, for the third year the Cape Port Producers’ Association (CAPPA) held its annual CAPPA Challenge to identify the top Cape “Ports” and Top 10 Portuguese varietal  and blended table wines, judged by means of a blind tasting conducted by a panel of wine experts, chaired by Dave Hughes. This year’s trophy winner and top performing Cape fortified went to the Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve 2011 crafted by the ubiquitous fortified experts Boplaas Family Vineyards from Calitzdorp, while the Reserve Champion went to the Boplaas Cape Tawny Vintners Reserve N/V. The top scoring wine in the TOP 10 table wines went to the Boplaas Tinta Barocca 2013, which was joined by two other gold medal winning wines the Boplaas Family Reserve Touriga Naçional 2012 and De Krans Tritonia 2011 – proving that the Cape’s hotbed for these wines is definitely Calitzdorp.
As always, all wines are blind tasted by a professional panel, independently audited and the Cape fortifieds are judged according to the styles – Cape Ruby, Cape Vintage, Cape Tawny as well as “Other Cape Port” category – for the Cape Pink, White  and Late-bottled Vintage styled wines, and Museum Class – for wines a decade from vintage or older. This year, as in the past, the panel of Cape Wine Masters was chaired by Dave Hughes.
The Cape Ruby category delivered its first gold in a while, with the Slanghoek Cape Ruby 2013 walking away with category winner for this Breedekloof cellar, while the Northern Cape was represented by GWK’s Landzicht Cape Ruby 2011 runner-up in the category. The judges were impressed by the aromatic profile, soft tannins and quality exhibited in this class, especially that of the winning Ruby. The “Other Cape Port” category delivered a silver medal for the Axe Hill Late-bottled Vintage 2009 from Calitzdorp.
This year’s Museum Class was won by the gold medal winning Peter Bayly Cape Vintage 2004, an achievement made all the more special, as Peter and Yvonne Bayly are celebrating their 10th vintage this year from their small patch of vines in the Groenfontein valley near Calitzdorp.
Although a small class of entries, the Cape Tawny category impressed the judges with the complexity and authenticity of the wines, with the winner being noted as “an outstanding wine, possessing all the attributes of a fine Tawny”. The winner of the Cape Tawny category was the Boplaas Cape Tawny Vintners Reserve N/V – crafted from Tinta Barocca  and barrel matured for 12 years prior to blending, while the runner-up went to De Krans Cape Tawny Limited Release.
By far the largest category of entrants, the Cape Vintage category delivered superb examples of this style with the judges noting the best in this class possessing all that is required of a fine vintage “Port” – deep dark colour, firm yet ripe tannins, aromatic and flavour complexity with integrated oak allowing for further bottle maturation. The overall trophy winner emerged from this class, as well as four gold medal winning wines. Boplaas’s Cape Vintage Reserve 2011 took top honours in this category, as well as the trophy for best wine of CAPPA Challenge 2014; while Calitzdorp native, Morné Vrey’s Delaire Graff’s Cape Vintage 2012 took the runner-up laureate, as well as a gold medal. The other two gold medal winners in this category were awarded to the De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve 2011  and Muratie Ben Prins Cape Vintage 2010.
An oft over-looked fact was the advice given in the early 1920’s by Prof. A.I. Perold, that the South African wine growers should look towards Portugal, Spain and the Mediterranean regions of France for wine grape varieties rather than the classical winegrowing regions of Bordeaux or Germany’s Rhine. South Africa boasts a mere 221ha of Tinta Barocca, 104ha of Touriga Naçional, 53ha Tinta Roriz, and total plantings of Portuguese varietals amount to approximately 0.4% of vineyard area, making table wines from these varietals a definite niche. This year the judges noted the table wines exhibited a greater focus on elegance with red fruit, spice and supple tannins the order of the day, offering consumers approachable wines with enough complexity for further cellaring. The balance, varietal expression and focus on crafting fine wines rather than simply another wine for the portfolio or a consumer oddity was also noted by the judges. This category was open to all Portuguese varietal table wines  and blends consisting of a minimum 40% Portuguese variety/varieties.
This year’s TOP 10 delivered three gold medals for the Boplaas Tinta Barocca 2013, Boplaas Family Reserve Touriga Naçional 2012 and De Krans Tritonia 2011. The other seven wines in the TOP 10 are: Overgaauw Touriga Naçional 2013, Woolworth’s Boplaas Portuguese Connection 2012, Axe Hill Distinta 2012, Boplaas Tinta Chocolat 2013, Allesverloren Tinta Barocca 2012, Boplaas Touriga Naçional 2013 and the Allesverloren Touriga Naçional 2011. The sheer value  and quality offered to the consumer is epitomized by the overall top scoring wine, the Boplaas Tinta Barocca 2013 which is available from the cellar door for less than R60-00.
In future it is hoped that the CAPPA Challenge will grow from strength to strength gathering entrants from over the entire winelands to showcase the finest Cape fortifieds and the exceptional Portuguese varietal table wines produced in the Cape, not only by CAPPA members, but by all the producers of these wines.
CAPPA would like to thank Elsabé Ferreira and Johannes van Willing from Elpro Promotions for organising the tasting, as well as Raymond Noppé, Colin Firth  and Meryl Weaver for offering their time and expertise on the tasting panel, and a special thanks to Dave Hughes for chairing the panel.
Full Results List:
Overall winner CAPPA Challenge 2014 Trophy – Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve 2011
Reserve Champion CAPPA Challenge 2014 – Boplaas Cape Tawny Vintners Reserve N/V
Cape Ruby - Class Winner – Slanghoek Cape Ruby 2013 (Gold medal),
Runner-up – GWK Landzicht Cape Ruby 2011
Cape Tawny: Class Winner – Boplaas Cape Tawny Vintners Reserve N/V (Gold medal  and Reserve Champion CAPPA Challenge 2014)
Runner-up – De Kranz Cape Tawny Ltd. Release N/V
Cape Vintage:
Class Winner - Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve 2011 (Gold medal  and CAPPA Challenge Trophy winner 2014)
Runner-up – Delaire Graff Cape Vintage 2012 (Gold medal)
Gold medals – De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve 2011  and Muratie Ben Prins Cape Vintage 2010
Museum Class:
Class Winner – Peter Bayly Cape Vintage 2004 (Gold medal)
Other Cape “Ports”:
Class Winner – Axe Hill Cape Late-bottled Vintage 2009
Material supplied by CAPPA

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