Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Winemag Signature Red Blend Report 2017 Awards

Pinning down a butterfly
What are Signature reds as defined by the Wine Magazine judges? A blend certainly, but not a Bordeaux blend, nor a Cape Blend (containing Pinotage), although at least one of the winners did contain Pinotage. The criteria are "those wines which are distinctive of their originators" and "those which draw particular attention in the market place". They think that "Perhaps the Rhône is a better reference point given local growing conditions" and given the effects already being shown by global warming and the current drought, we tend to agree
So it was with some interest and a feeling of exploration that we attended the awards ceremony last week, which is always followed by a tasting of the winners
The venue for these awards was Stuzzico on Bree Street
And the room was filled with well known and respected winemakers. Here are Carl van der Merwe of De Morgenzon and Tyrrel Myburgh of Joostenberg
Judge Roland Peens with André Morgenthal. Andre is working on a project identifying old heritage vineyards in South Africa. We hope many will be able to be preserved, many are sadly disappearing under the plough and new crops
Photographer Danie Nel chatting to Jean-Claude Martin of Creation
Christian Eedes, Editor of WineMag.co.za and Chairman of the judges. He says it is essential that we promote South African red blends overseas, not necessarily Cape Blends, it is what we make so well. The judges use the 100 point scoring system and taste blind. There were 82 entries from 62 producers received this year. The judges found many wines sweet, and questioned whether winemakers are leaving some sweetness to appeal to the market? Are there problems with fermentation, are alcohols killing off the yeasts ? There were some with intense reduction flaws, premature oxidation, and lack of precision. The wines they liked were lighter, fresher, drier, more Southern Rhone whole bunch fermented. Roland Peens said it is important not to let wood dominate. Our comment is what really constitutes an SA Blend? It is as difficult as trying to pin down a butterfly.
Winemag business manager Jacqueline Lahoud announced the awards
Christian gave out the certificates
Broadcaster Guy MacDonald with Winemag Director Derek Prout-Jones
Waiting to hear who won. There was a lot of variation in the entries, as expected with the huge range of varietals in the blends. All of the wines were indeed worthy of awards. Three of the top four wines were more elegant and restrained, as we have come to expect from these judges. Many in the room were appreciating many of the lower scoring but more African, warmer, riper fruit wines
The list of the winners with the points they scored
Joostenberg Bakermat 2015
Price: R186
Newton Johnson Granum 2015
Price: R273
Olifantsberg Silhouette 2013
Price: R195
Vrede en Lust Artisan Range Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Price: R139

Creation Syrah Grenache 2015
Price: R190
De Morgenzon Maestro Blue 2015
Price: R200
Eikendal Charisma 2015
Price: R104
Guardian Peak Summit 2014
Price: R160
Luddite Saboteur Red 2015
Price: R250
Opstal Carl Everson Cape Blend 2015
Price: R175
Rust en Vrede 1694 2014
Price: R1 300
Vondeling Erica 2014
Price: R195

Fairview Extraño 2013
Price: R100
Haskell II 2013
Price: R180
Haut Espoir Gentle Giant 2012
Price: R90
Le Riche Richesse 2015
Price: R140
Orange River Cellars Lyra Vega 2015
Price: R95
Spier Creative Block 8 2014
Price: R159
Stellenbosch Vineyards Credo Shiraz Merlot Viognier 2014
Price: R149
Warwick Three Cape Ladies 2013

Extraño, a Coastal blend from winemaker Anthony de Jager at Fairview, a blend of 73% Tempranillo, 14% Grenache Noir , 13% Carignan. 90 points. Rich, spicy, warm, YES
Haute Espoir 2012 Gentle Giant gives a nod to their winemaker Rob Armstrong, who is rather a large and very friendly man. The wine is a blend of 55% Merlot; 23% Cab Sauvignon; 16% Tannat; 6% Cabernet Franc. 90 Points, The wine is somewhat wild, warm and full
Some canapés, tomato bruschetta topped with mozzarella and basil
Le Riche 2014 Richesse, a complex and layered blend of 27% Cabernet Sauvignon,24% Merlot, 18% Petit Verdot, 13% Cabernet Franc, 12% Cinsaut, 6% Malbec. 90 points
Spier 2014 Block 8 is a Cape blend of 8 varieties include Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Petit Verdot, Cinsaut, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. 90 points Complex, spicy, dark
Warwick 2013 Three Cape Ladies, one of the more mature wines, a blend of 50% Pinotage, 34% Shiraz, and 16% Cabernet. 90 points. Good fruit, nice length, warm and spicy
Truffled cheese bruschetta
Creation 2015 Syrah Grenache, always one we favour, it is an 80/20 blend, with the Grenache adding such character and depth, great fruit and a little wildness. 91 points
De Morgenzon Maestro Blue 2015, another addition to their Maestro label. A blend of 44% Grenache Noir, 29% Mourvèdre, 21% Syrah, 6% Petite Syrah. 91 points This wine takes you straight to the Rhône
Eikendal's 2014 Charisma is an unusual blend of Shiraz 61%, Petit Verdot 27%, Sangiovese 12%, rather southern European in character. 91 points. Spice and leather, dive in nose, the Petite Verdot shines
The best canapé of the afternoon and we reckon worth returning to the bar for more, (and we have eaten almost no pasta for three years, was the blue cheese cappelletti. It so enhanced the wines
Guardian Peak 2014 Summit, a blend of Syrah 66%, Mourvèdre 25%, Grenache 9%. 91 points. Another full of rich spicy fruit
2015 Saboteur from Luddite, always extraordinary, usually a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvèdre. 91 Points
Carl Everson 2015 Cape Blend from Opstal. Winemaker Attie Louw is famed for his excellent Chenin; now he can also boast about his Cape Blend, an equal blend of Cabernet, Shiraz and Pinotage. 91 Points. Perfumed, chalky tannins, soft sweet fruit
Rare sliced steak on a rich mash, but somehow it tasted burnt? Did the flame grill go too far?
From Matthew Copeland at Vondeling, his enjoyable 2014 Erica, a blend of 73% Shiraz, 12% Mourvèdre, 7% Grenache, 5% Carignan, 3% Viognier. 91 Points. Complex nose and palate, warm linen
Rust en Vrede's 2014 version of 1694, a straight blend of 56% Shiraz, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon. 91 points. Warmer, fruitier mellower
Two different arancini risotto balls, one flavoured with beetroot - bright pink inside and the other more conventional. Crisp outside and gooey inside, but with little flavour and we couldn't find any cheese inside
Joostenberg's 2015 Bakermat, a blend of 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Syrah, 12% Merlot , 12% Touriga Nacional, which got it 92 points. Vanilla wood, silky on the palate, impressive
Newton Johnson's 2015 Granum, very elegant and sophisticated, this is a blend of Syrah with some Mourvedre. 92 points. Fresh, wild and in the dryer style the judges prefer
Olifantsberg 2013 Silhouette took many people by surprise. This is not a wine from the Olifants river area, but a farm near Worcester. This wine is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Mourvèdre. 92 Points Perfume of violets, and also fresher in style
Vrede en Lust 2013 Artisan Range a blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. 92 Points. A perfect nose, perfumed fruit and fresh in style
Attie Louw of Opstal, Nico Grobler of Eikendal and Roland Peens of The Wine Cellar

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