Thursday, October 25, 2018

Winemag Prescient Chardonnay Report 2018 Awards at the Norval Foundation Art Museum, Steenberg Estate

This year the Prescient Chardonnay Awards presentation was held at the new Norval Foundation Art Museum on Steenberg estate in Constantia. It was our first visit and we were very impressed and intend to visit again to see more of the gallery and eat in the restaurant, which we hear is good
We gathered downstairs on the terrace with a glass of Steenberg MCC
Johan and Sophie Kruger of Kruger Family Wines
JC and Carolyn Martin from Creation
Then we moved upstairs into one of the gallery spaces where the awards presentation took place
Jax Lahoud from was our MC for the event and she spoke about the changes (for the better) at WineMag
WineMag Editor Christian Eedes. The judges were Christian, Roland Peens and James Petersen
Craig Mockford of Prescient told us that this is the 8th year in which they have sponsored this important wine event. This year, there were 117 entries from 81 producers and these were tasted blind (labels out of sight) by the judges, scoring done according to the 100-point quality scale. The competition is open to all producers who are prepared to pay an entry fee and, while the line-up was previously capped at 60 wines, it no longer is
Chardonnay does respond well to all wine making techniques
The top scoring wines do bunch, but now it is time to identify the best Chardonnay vineyards
A slide with interesting information. Which areas were to the fore? Out of the top 24 wines (six rating 92, 13 rating 93 and five rating 94), 10 were from Stellenbosch, six were from Elgin, three were from the greater Hemel-en-Aarde area, two from Franschhoek, one from Constantia, one from Darling and one a multi-regional blend
 This year’s results
The consistent farms and their wines
and those that get special mention
There were 30 wines that scored 90 points, showing how Chardonnay growers and winemakers are producing better and better wines To see the results in detail and read Christian's 2018 Chardonnay Report go to Christian also told us that they included and tasted blind two French ringers: both scored 93 points - the Henri Boillot Meursault 2016 and the Olivier Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 2015
These two slides show the 90 point wines
These are the 91 pointers
The 13 wines pictured here scored 93 points. We were able to taste many of these and the 94 point scorers. The quality of these wines is superb and we know that the one point separation of these is minute and could change with another team of judges or on another day
And five deservedly got the top score of 94. The Paul Cluver Seven Flags 2017 was the overall top performer and has hints of smoky bacon on the wood influenced nose, crisp and long citrus flavours, lots of depth and complexity on this wine that deservedly wins many awards. The Le Riche 2017 has notes of Burgundy on the nose; so special, elegant and beautiful on the palate with crisp limes, citrus and light chalk with complex layers of flavour. The La Bri 2017 by Irene Waller has shy fruit on the nose; it hints at what's to come, it holds back then gently releases its fruit in layers, again crisp, with soft chalk, supported by almost invisible wood; so, so good. Morné Frey at Delaire Graff has produced a rich and classic unrestrained Chardonnay, his Terrace Block Reserve. Wood is present but not overwhelming, the wine is well balanced and made to last. Chris Williams has also produced a cracker with his Meerlust 2017. It has floral notes and rich golden fruit on the nose; on the palate citrus and quince, a nod or two to tropical fruit as well, with deep and satisfying flavours and texture
Wow another chef doing a rillette as a canapé. These were big and delicious to eat
Tiny bites of a tuna tartare with sesame
Chicken roulade topped with crisp leaves
and for our vegans, some asparagus
Small arancini balls
Battered prawns in a cone
More tuna tartare
Another vegetarian dish, a silky and light mousse, savoury not sweet, of butternut purée
If these canapés are an indication of the food at the restaurant, we cannot wait to try it
Birds taking flight in the gardens
The building was designed by renowned architect Derek Henstra
We loved this layered wood effect in the front reception desk

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