Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Top Ten Pinotage Awards lunch at Cavalli, Stellenbosch

The Top 10 Pinotage Awards lunch was held last week at Cavalli Estate in the Helderberg ward of Stellenbosch. The panel of judges for the 2018 competition consisted of Neil Ellis of Neil Ellis Wines (chairman), Samarie Smith, Benguela Cove’s Brand and Business Manager, winemaker Francois Haasbroek, wine educator Nomonde Kubheka and Francois Rautenbach, wine buyer for Singita. First. we met in the tent to taste the top 20 finalists

Winemakers Warren Ellis and Francois Haasbroek discussing serious matters
Deidre Taylor and Heidi Kritzinger of Kanonkop Wine Estate
Danie Steytler Jr, Kaapzicht winemaker, discussing his wines with Bennie Howard CWM
Danie and Karen Steytler
Winemaker Izelle van Blerk and Wim Truter of KWV 
A good opportunity to meet friends and talk in the tent while tasting the Top 20 wines in the adjoining marquee
Judge Samarie Smith discusses his wines with Môreson winemaker Clayton Reabow. He had two in the Top 20
Tiger Dorrington and Pierre Wahl of Rijk's in Tulbagh
A welcoming glass of Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rosé which contains Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Pinotage
The large functions room at Cavalli with tables laid out in rows for lunch
The menu
The Top 20 Finalists  A record number of 161 entries was received for the Absa Top 10 competition and nearly half of the 20 finalists are from vineyards from the Stellenbosch area, including the iconic Beyerskloof, Kaapzicht, Kanonkop and Lanzerac. The other finalists originate from Breedekloof, Piekenierskloof, Durbanville, Cape Town, Paarl, Darling and Worcester. Four of the finalists had two wines in the running, namely Diemersdal, Kaapzicht, Môreson and Kanonkop
Richard van Wyk of NG Moederkerk in Stellenbosch said Grace at the start of lunch
Beyers Truter, chairman and founder of the Pinotage Association, highlighted that Pinotage’s quality is on the upsurge and that the market for wines made from this cultivar continues to grow. “Looking at the quality of wine from the 20 finalists this year, our winemakers are undoubtedly on the right course to grow Pinotage’s popularity.  Not only are they embracing the grape’s unique characteristics and learning how to best treat it in the vineyard and in the cellar, but they are also determined to continue improving its quality and educating South African consumers and the rest of the world about the superb wine it produces”
Beyers said that winemakers are now in sync with their terroir and that this is one of the most important ingredients of the success recipe

The panel of judges for the 2018 competition consisted of Neil Ellis of Neil Ellis Wines (chairman), Samarie Smith (Benguela Cove’s Brand and Business Manager), winemaker Francois Haasbroek, wine educator Nomonde Kubheka and Francois Rautenbach, wine buyer for Singita.The Pinotage Associaton was started in November 1995. They do not nominate one winner but award honours to the wines adjudged to be the best 10 entries. There are many different terroirs and variations of this mutable grape

Harvey Ruitenbach, Head of sponsor ABSA Retail Banking announced the winners
The 2018 Absa Top 10 Pinotage winners:
 Allée Bleue Black Series Old Vine Pinotage 2016
WO Piekenierskloof (Franschhoek cellar), Winemaker Van Zyl du Toit

Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage 2015
WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Anri Truter

Diemersdal Pinotage Reserve 2017
WO Durbanville, Winemaker Thys Louw

Fairview Primo Pinotage 2016
WO Paarl, Winemaker Anthony de Jager

Flagstone Writer’s Block Pinotage 2016
WO Breedekloof (Somerset West cellar), Winemaker Gerhard Swart

Kaapzicht Steytler Pinotage 2015
WO Bottelary-Stellenbosch, Winemaker Danie Steytler

Kanonkop Pinotage 2013
WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, Winemaker Abrie Beeslaar

Lyngrove Platinum Pinotage 2016
WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Danie van Tonder

Môreson The Widow Maker Pinotage 2015
WO Stellenbosch (Franschhoek cellar), Winemaker Clayton Reabow

Rijk’s Reserve Pinotage 2014
WO Tulbagh, Winemaker Pierre Wahl

The Cape Blend winners will be announced at an award function on 30 August 2018 at Lanzerac Wine Estate in Stellenbosch

Lanzerac winemaker Wynand Grobler with Beyers Truter
Michael Bampfield Duggan of Wine Concepts
A happy group of winemakers including De Wet Viljoen (Neethlingshof), Beyers Truter (Beyerskloof), Abrie Beeslaar (Kanonkop), Danie Steytler (Kaapzicht) and Warren Ellis (Neil Ellis)
Lunch was served between the awards. The starter of rather tough singed duck breast with a too sweet thick tinned mango purée, burnt sweetcorn (their description), coconut cream and tarragon herb oil that rather clashed with the other flavours
Abrie Beeslaar, Kanonkop winemaker, listens to the speeches
A pensive Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities
Bennie Howard pours a glass of Meerendal Pinotage for Tsogo Sun's Western Cape Regional Sommelier Giorgio Meletiou
The disappointing main course promised a lot but didn't deliver it all. Good beef fillet, good tender rib of beef. A dried out triangle of seared polenta that had the texture of loofah. We were promised it all on a bed of bobotie, but we were served a rather raw tomato paste sauce. Good broccoli spears... and a pea shoot
A very good selection of excellent local cheeses, chutneys, fruit and biscuits was served in the marquee after the awards. There were many of these boards set out on tables.
You could also taste the Vintage class winners which were all, without exception, worth their weight in gold.  If you have any in your cellar, now is the time to enjoy them.
The Museum Class Trophy winners
Kanonkop Pinotage 2006
WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, Winemaker Abrie Beeslaar

Neethlingshof Lord Neethling Pinotage 2003
WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker De Wet Viljoen

Rijk’s Private Cellar Pinotage 2008
WO Tulbagh, Winemaker Pierre Wahl

Grangehurst Pinotage 2008
WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Jeremy Walker

Neil Ellis Vineyard Selection Pinotage 2008
WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Warren Ellis

No comments: