Thursday, September 01, 2016

Chenin Blanc Top Ten Challenge Awards at Delaire Graff

This annual awards ceremony was held at Delaire Graff this year. We always know that we are going to taste some amazing Chenins with lunch and what a good lunch it was. If you want to see who is in the top 10 this year, click on this link www.chenin.co.za. This is the third year in which the awards have been held and seven of this year's winners have previously been winners, showing how consistent some of these farms are at producing superb Chenin Blanc
Delaire Graff has one of the most amazing outlooks in the winelands and when you arrive on a spring day like this, it is sensational. We were met with glasses of two MCC bubblies made from Chenin Blanc, Ken Forrester's SparkleHorse and Perdeberg. A welcome too from Hanneke Botha, winemaker at De Morgenzon
Good canapés were served while we waited for the awards lunch to begin. These were sweetcorn croquettes with a tomato chakalaka
Very fresh slivers of raw yellowtail with bean sprouts, pea shoots and wasabi mayo
Large pearly oysters with caviar
It is always a very social occasion
Ken Forrester, Chairman of the Chenin Blanc Association with Darius Rasool, Marketing Manager, Business Banking at sponsor Standard Bank
There were 124 entries this year, all of which were tasted blind by a five-person panel with no indication of vintage, cellar treatment or technical analysis. In his opening speech Ken Forrester said: “The overall quality is proof that Chenin is going places. Across the board the wines are world class. This is the most excited I’ve ever been for Chenin in South Africa”
Rapt attention
“We are proud to be associated with South African Chenin Blanc and the wine industry as a whole, said Craig Polkinghorne, Head of Commercial and Business Banking at Standard Bank. “By giving recognition to this grape variety we form part of a better wine industry for all. As indicated by the Top 10 winners, all of them are donating their prize money to various charities and worthy courses in and among their areas including Sunfield Home, the Du Toitskloof DGB Mobile Library, the Anna Foundation, Kusasa, The Agroecology Academy and crèches in Mbekweni and at Allée Bleue. And so we pay it forward
The judging panel this year was made up of Christian Eedes, one of South Africa’s most respected wine judges as chairperson of the judging panel, Jamie Goode, a London-based wine writer and currently wine columnist at UK national newspaper The Sunday Express, Higgo Jacobs, certified with the Court of Master Sommeliers and wine judge, Cathy van Zyl, Master of Wine, regular judge and associate editor of Platter’s South African Wine Guide, as well as wine writer and certified wine judge Samarie Smith and Tinashe Nyamudoka, sommelier at the well-known Test Kitchen, South Africa’s number one restaurant
Head Judge Christian Eedes commented that “Chenin Blanc is such a complicated category to judge, because of the diversity of styles. And this year was no exception. The competition received entries with a wide diversity of styles – from clean and fresh fruit to oxidative ones – and they all worked. There really is a style for every consumer out there. This category seems to go from strength to strength. We could see and taste that there is a general confidence among South African winemakers when they are working with this grape and a real conviction of what they want to do with this grape. It was a really great year for Chenin”
Niel Groenewald, head winemaker and brand manager of Bellingham
Johann Laubscher, General Manager of Delaire Graff, Willie du Plessis, Head: Business Banking Western Cape at Standard Bank Group, Craig Polkinghorne and Kobus Basson, owner of Kleine Zalze
Five of the top 10 winners, in no particular order: They are L to R : Allée Bleue 2015. Price: R65 93% Chenin Blanc, 7% Viognier from Franschhoek and Walker Bay vineyards; Bellingham The Bernard Series Old Vine 2015 Price: R160 From Agter-Paarl, Bottelary and Durbanville vineyards, with an average vine age of 45 years; Boschendal Sommelier Selection 2015 Price: R85 From old Agter Paarl, Bottelary and Somerset West vineyards. Largely unwooded, 15% fermented in oak; DeMorgenzon Reserve 2015 Price: R225 From Stellenbosch vines planted in 1972. Matured for 11 months in French oak, 25% new. The first of two for Kleine Zalze, the Family Reserve 2015 Price: R160 From three different wards of Stellenbosch, vineyards approximately 35 years in age. Matured for eight months in old 400-litre French oak barrels
The other five top 10 winners, in no particular order: They are L to R : the second winner from Kleine Zalze, the Vineyard Selection Barrel Fermented 2015 Price: R80 From Stellenbosch vineyards ranging from 25 to 40 years old. Matured for six months in old 400-litre French oak barrels; Leopard’s Leap Culinaria Collection 2015 Price: R80 From Voor-Paardeberg vineyards with an average age of 20 years. Matured in 500-litre French oak barrels, none new; Perdeberg The Dry Land Collection Barrel Fermented 2015 Price: R77 From two vineyards in the Agter Paarl area, one 26 years old and the other 32. Matured for 10 months in 500-litre French oak barrels, 20% new; Rijk’s Private Cellar Barrel Fermented 2013 Price: R140 WO Tulbagh. Grapes from 17-year-old trellised vines and seven-year-old bush vines. 20% fermented in tank, 80% fermented and matured for 11 months in 300-litre French and Hungarian oak, 40% of which was new; Spier 21 Gables 2015 Price: R150. From Tygerberg vineyards with an average age of 43 years. Matured for 14 months in a combination of 300, 400, 500 and 2500  litre French oak barrels, 60% new
Time for lunch and a chance to taste some of the winners with it. The menu
The first Intermediate course was a savoury butternut velouté topped with a great Cape Malay curry foam. The soup contained a rather large and weighty duck and pear filled ravioli. This was served with the Leopards Leap Culinaria, full of smoky melon apple and grass notes and the perfumed Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection is full, golden citrus and apple with good minerality
The second intermediate course was rather fatty salted Pork Belly, popcorn crackling, parsnip and honey puree, a thyme jus with mebos dots. The Spier 21 Gables served with it was lean and clean citrus with a touch of marmalade. A great match for this rich dish. The Kleine Zalze Family Reserve is in your face Chenin, the nose is green, the palate tropical, enjoyable
All the winners with their certificates. In front of spring vineyards bursting with buds on the slopes of the Simonsberg mountain
Main course was almost a step too far, this was a fourth course. It was Rolbaken chicken breasts with a carrot puree, coal roasted cauliflower, gem squash and a Cointreau jus. The Perdeberg Dry Land Chenin was rounder than expected, with limes and lemons and a clean minerality on the end. The other wine was De Morgenzon's Reserve, full with wood layered fruit, a sparkle of acid, lemons limes almost a mojito character, delicious
Nontokozo Madonsela, Craig Polkinghorne and Willie du Plessis
Vine pruning with the Simonsberg mountain majestic as the backdrop
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016
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