Tuesday, October 17, 2017

FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 2017 Awards

This year, the awards were held over lunch at Franschhoek Cellars
On arrival, all the top 20 wines selected were out for tasting with a programme, so you could, if you wished, vote for your own top 10. Here Siobhan Thompson, CEO of WOSA was tasting the Mulderbosch with Sean Griffiths and next to them was Kevin King with his South Hill Sauvignon Blanc
RJ Botha of Kleine Zalze, who are doing rather well with awards this year, with  Marize Uys of Amorim Cork
Lords Wines owner and winemaker Jacie Oosthuizen was there with Jacques, his son, and their Sauvignon 
Boschendal winemaker Richard Duckitt and Cape Point Vineyards' marketing manager Anetha Connan
Jax Lahoud of Winemag.co.za with Michael Smith of Highlands Road
Thys Louw of Diemersdal, the current Chairman of the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group, was found knocking his opening speech into shape
And the MC for the day, Pietman Geldenhuys of "Oppie Stoep" on Cape Net TV, was going through his. He has the best Scottish accent we have ever heard from an Afrikaans speaker
Time to take our seats
The MC began with a long, amusing story or two, in very colloquial West Coast Afrikaans dialect
and he invented a song made up from random words given by different tables; good memory and great fun
Sean Skibbe, winemaker at South Hill in Elgin
On our table we had Rhinofields Sauvignon Blanc from Durbanville Hills, one we buy often
And Lizelle Gerber's De Werf Sauvignon Blanc from Boschendal; this is only sold on the farm
The starter was a crumbed fishcake with a little salad and a slice of lemon. It needed a tartar sauce, but was fresh and crisp
The Trophies
Stephen Claassens, Provincial Head of First National Bank’s Western and Eastern Cape regions opened proceedings. He told us that the Wine industry creates 19 percent of jobs in the Western Cape. Sauvignon Blanc is increasing in production at the rate of 20% a year. We are the largest Sauvignon producers in the world, but only 14th in terms of land use. 7.8 litres of wine are drunk per person in SA annually. We do need to reset the prices both overseas and here to reflect its worth. (Many people in the room were rather surprised that consumption is so low - they know how much wine they drink, but they are all in the industry and make up for the non drinkers). Agriculture in South Africa is a very stable industry which FNB supports and backs. The awards have been sponsored by FNB Business since 2007; the competition has become the country’s foremost platform for Sauvignon Blanc producers
Thys Louw presented his speech in both Afrikaans and English, switching seamlessly. He said that Sauvignon Blanc is the No.1 varietal to achieve worldwide dominance with its flavours, aromas brightness; it is not a shy style of wine. Tannie Elsabé (Ferreira) said to him "Just brag about Sauvignon Blanc". "Easy", said Thys. 7.5 % of grapes grown in South Africa are Sauvignon Blanc, three times more than its closest rival. 21 million litres are leaving the country to be sold abroad, and these are the best quality wines, not bulk wine. There is massive scope abroad. South Africa now needs to grab the attention of the USA market and he asked WOSA to please help with this. There are many new wine regions in South Africa and they plant Sauvignon Blanc first; it is a pioneer
Time for the main course of chicken breast in a cream sauce with new potatoes and spring vegetables. There was also a table salad
Judges' convenor and Sauvignon pioneer Neil Ellis talked about values in the industry. He had encouraged Thys Louw to choose his own panel. The Top 10 jury comprised Neil Ellis, seasoned winemaker and family estate owner, with leading wine writers and judges Christian Eedes and Samarie Smith, as well as winemakers Kobus Gerber and Wilhelm Pienaar, while Morgan Steyn, Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé, joined by invitation to gain tasting and judging experience. They had the task of evaluating 190 entries from 120 participants. Neil said that the beauty of the panel was that it offered diversity of thought, style, objectivity and not personal favourites. Over the last 10 years, the influence of sites and regions has become more important. We must honour our good winemaking, viticulture, styles and sites and the awards do that
Time to announce the top 10 Sauvignon Blancs. First award went to winemaker Sean Skibbe and owner Kevin King of South Hill
Another to Alastair Rimmer and RJ Botha of Kleine Zalze
Richard Duckitt of Boschendal with their trophy
The wine on the table with the trophy
Sean with Trizanne Barnard of Trizanne Signature Wines and Stephen Claassens
The top Ten Sauvignon Blanc winners with their trophies and certificates. They are
·         Boschendal De Werf Sauvignon Blanc 2016 – WO Coastal, Lizelle Gerber, represented by Richard Duckitt
·         Diemersdal Winter Ferment Sauvignon Blanc 2017 – WO Durbanville, Mari Branders
·         Groot Phesantekraal Sauvignon Blanc 2017 – WO Cape Town, Etienne Louw
·         Highlands Road Sauvignon Blanc 2015 – WO Elgin, Vanessa Simkiss
·         Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2017 – WO Western Cape, RJ Botha
·         Mulderbosch 1 000 Miles Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc (Wooded) 2015 – WO Western Cape, Adam Mason, represented by Sean Griffiths
·         South Hill Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2016 – WO Elgin, Sean Skibbe
·         Stellenbosch Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2017 – WO Stellenbosch, Bernard Claassen
·         Strandveld Pofadderbosch Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2016 – WO Elim, Conrad Vlok
·         Vrede en Lust Artisan Range Blanc Fumé 2016 – WO Elgin, Karlin Nel
Time for dessert before we leave. With coffee, some small, very gooey chocolate brownies
tiny meringues with fruit
and mini panna cottas
And, as we left, we discovered that they now have double-decker tourist trams in Franschhoek

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