Friday, November 30, 2018

The Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Awards at La Residence, Franschhoek

It was time for the 2018 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year and Young Winemaker of the Year awards, held again this year at La Residence in Franschhoek. It is always a glittering Black Tie occasion. This year’s Winemaker of the Year Finalists were Arco Laarman (Laarman Cellar Services at Avondale Wines), Ronell Wiid (Bartinney Private Cellar), Clayton Reabow (Môreson), Andries Burger (Paul Cluver Estate), Carl Van Der Merwe (DeMorgenzon) and Murray Barlow (Rustenberg Wines). The category was Chardonnay
We found fellow journo Norman McFarlane seated with a glass of bubbly on the verandah
Arco & Madeleine Laarman
Rose and Michael Jordaan, Angela Lloyd, Carl and Kathleen van der Merwe
Elizabeth and Wade Roger-Lund of Jordan Wines
Wade was Young Winemaker of the Year last year
Braveheart Bobby Wallace in full kilt and caboodle
Barcha and Rüdger van Wyk
The 2018 Diners Club Young Winemaker contenders and their ladies. They are Juandré Bruwer (Diemersdal Estate), Philip Viljoen (Bon Courage Estate), Rüdger van Wyk (Stark-Condé Wines), Philip Theron (Glen Carlou) and Bobby Wallace (Iona Vineyards)
PRO Posy Hazell and Ariane Rossouw
That Wine Girl, Leanne Beattie & her Pa, Graham
In the long hall, waiting for the awards to begin
Platter Wine Guide publisher JP Rousseau was the MC for the evening. He told us that the judges were Michael O’Connell – International judge, Carrie Adams, Debi Van Flymen, Michael Crossley, Nomonde Kubheka and Ntsiki Biyela. Also that the winning Winemaker receives R50 000 while the Young Winemaker wins R25 000. Both winemakers get two return air tickets on Delta Airlines to any wine producing region in the USA
Diners Club MD Lesego Chauke-Motshwane takes the podium. She said we were there to celebrate a love story between the makers and their produce. And to announce the winners of the Winemaker and Young Winemaker of the Year
This year's category for Winemaker was Chardonnay and the Young Winemaker category was Red Wines. These are the Young Winemaker finalists and their submissions:
  • Bobby Wallace – Iona Vineyards – 2017 Pinot Noir
  • Juandré Bruwer – Diemersdal Estate – 2017 Shiraz
  • Philip Theron – Glen Carlou – 2017 Merlot and 2017 Curator’s Collection Malbec
  • Philip Viljoen – Bon Courage Estate – 2015 Inkara Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Rudger Van Wyk – Stark-Condé Wines – 2016 Stellenbosch Syrah

Last year’s winner, Wade Roger-Lund, waits to hand over the trophy to this year’s winner
And the Winner is .... 
A surprised, delighted and shocked Rüdger Van Wyk of Stark-Condé Wines
With his award, so happy. He was given a standing ovation
and made a short and sweet acceptance speech. Rudger was born in George in the Southern Cape. He studied at the University of Stellenbosch, where he completed a BSc Agriculture: Viticulture and Oenology degree. As a Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé, Rudger worked at several high-profile local wine estates, followed by a harvest in Burgundy before joining Stark-Condé Wines as assistant winemaker in 2016. Earlier this year Stark-Condé Wines was pleased to announce Rüdger’s appointment to the position of winemaker
Judge Carrie Adams of Norman Goodfellows
The wine of Rüdger van Wyk, 2016 Stellenbosch Syrah, was then served with our starters. It is an accomplished, elegant wine full of cherries and berries, violets and incense wood on the nose. Restrained fruit initially with dark chocolate coffee and wood, minerality and some tight tannins that relax in the glass. Mulberries and morello cherry fruit, it will age well
It might have been nice to sample the wines entered while waiting? Up till then we had been served only water.
The starter of grilled lamb loin, on a watercress salad with baby rainbow beetroots, root vegetable sprouts, intense and interesting dried kalamata olives and a lamb jus gras. The wine paired very well with the dish
After the first course it was time to watch a video about the Wine Makers of the Year
and to hear the announcement of this year’s winner. The tension and excitement in the room were palpable
Last year's winner Christiaan Groenewald of Eagles Cliff/New Cape Wines came to present the award
And here is the envelope ....
And the winner is: Clayton Reabow of Môreson!
Making his thank you speech. Clayton grew up in King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape. He completed a BSc Agriculture: Viticulture and Oenology degree at the University of Stellenbosch in 2004. In between working some local vintages, he travelled to other wine producing areas such as Bordeaux in France and the Mosel Valley in Germany to broaden his horizons. On returning to South Africa, he applied for the winemaking position at Môreson in 2007 and has never looked back. In 2011 Clayton completed a Postgraduate Master’s degree in Wine Business Management, Cum Laude, at the UCT Graduate School of Business
With the award
Graham and Leanne Beattie
The winning Mercator Premium Chardonnay was served with our main course of Pan fried “Line fish” with spring vegetables, topped with an orange crisp. John's tasted like dense Kingklip, Lynne's like soft Hake and neither of them are line fish, but the dish went well with the Chardonnay
It has a golden nose with a faint wood smoke whiff. Lovely lively crisp lemons and limes on the palate and the wood follows as golden oak, not dark toast
We were encouraged to tweet and this young man won the prize for the most innovative one
He won a bottle of each winning wine
The wine served with dessert was Nederburg’s The Winemasters Noble late harvest 2018
Dessert was like a deconstructed Lemon meringue pie, without the meringue,
but with a rich granadilla and ginger gelato, a crumb and, most interesting,
a shard of the new Valrhona Ruby chocolate which is intensely fruity
The two winners get their air tickets from Delta Airlines
More photo opportunities with the Trophies
And a handshake. And then it was time for carriages home
We are very grateful for the cars that were sent to transport us there and back again

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