Friday, September 07, 2018

2018 Perold/Absa Cape Blend awards lunch at Lanzerac

The Sum of the Parts
This year’s Absa Cape Blend Competition Awards, run by the Pinotage Association, were presented at a lunch at Lanzerac in Stellenbosch. We were invited to taste the top 10 finalists first and then, at lunch, the trophies for the top 5 winners were presented and certificates were presented to the remaining five finalists. A Cape Blend has to contain a minimum of 30% and no more than 70% Pinotage, the other grapes can be any the farms select, which makes this competition very interesting

The event was held in Lanzerac's very smart Cellar Hall. The judges this year were Jacques Roux (marketing director of DGB), Fred Viljoen and Johan Malan (proprietors and cellar masters at Viljoensdrift and Simonsig respectively), Susan Erasmus (Laffort), Brad Gold (CWM) and legendary winemaker Guy Webber. We found the quality of the 10 wines to be excellent. Most of the blends are led by Pinotage, but not all. They have elegance, complexity and are very easy to drink; they have maturity and great textures. They have reached a peak, but you can see there is much more to come. It was wonderful to see Lanzerac's buildings restored after the devastating fire they suffered last year
Wildekrans owner Amanda Harlow and winemaker Braam Gericke. The Wildekrans Cape Blend Barrel Select was one of the top five winners
Dewald Huisamen, Pulpit Rock is a top 5 winner with his Pulpit Rock Louisa Reserve 2014
KWV winemaker Sacha Muller; KWV won with their KWV Abraham Perold Tributum 2014
Cape Wine Master and Distell Director Francis (Duimpie) Bayly in conversation
Anri Truter (Beyerskloof), Abrie Beeslaar (Kanonkop) and Johan Schwartz (Pinotage Assn)
Alida & Vian Bester of Leipzig Winery were in the top 5 winners with their Leipzig Master Blend 2017
Beyers Truter with his Faith, a Finalist
The proceeds of this wine go towards fighting Foetal Alcohol Syndrome
Clifford Roberts with Dave Hughes - nice to see Dave looking so well and happy
Time for lunch and the awards
Beyers Truter, Chairman of the Pinotage Association, spoke first. "Our industry is lekker", he said "they hou van gesels" (they enjoy conversation). This category needed some time to get it right; they need to dream in Technicolor. Wines that come of age will hold their own against the best wines from the rest of the world
Adrie Esterhuyse from ABSA commented that wine quality in SA has improved, and that ABSA is proud to support the SA wine industry. The Pinotage Association needed to grow the customer base and after several years of discussion, the concept of the Cape Blend was agreed upon. The rest is history, it has been a success
The menu
The ten finalists and the three Pinotage Rosé finalists which were entered into this 
new competition category as these wines are important in this growth area of wine
We tucked into our starter of slow braised oxtail with a superb shimeji broth with beautiful umami wild mushroom flavours, an olive and potato espuma, topped with baked celeriac twirls, tiny Enoki mushrooms and a beetroot soil. The course was served with bread and these two butters. Well matched was the Rooiberg Rosé which has a slight sweetness
The food went perfectly with the Faith blend of Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot
People were raving about the lamb. It was cooked Sous Vide and was meltingly tender, without being dry, and had superb flavour. Beyers called for us to stand and clap in appreciation to the chef! Topped with baby artichokes, sweet potatoes, a courgette purée and rich dark pan juices. A triumph
The dish of vegetables to go with the lamb, beautifully cooked multicoloured beetroot,
tender stemmed broccoli, squash, courgettes and baby fennel
Time for the awards
A special Honorarium for Duimpie Bayly "in recognition of his Exceptional contribution to the development of Pinotage, South Africa's unique cultivar"
He commented that next year they will put ISA after his name (I'm still Alive)!
and a hug from Pinotage Association Manager, Elsabe Ferreira
Dessert was a spread set out in the lobby and it was fairly spectacular.
Rich mini cheesecakes
Macaron topped chocolate puddings, cup cakes topped with frills of pineapple
Chocolate truffles
Almond topped choux buns filled with rose scented crème patissière
And parmesan cheese with roasted pears and marmalade
A wheel of brie topped with roasted pears and caramelised pecans, next to tiny tiramisu cups
And assorted iced petit fours
Top 3 Pinotage Rosés: Rooiberg, Asara, Landskroon
The Top Five Cape Blend winners with their trophies and certificates

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