Thursday, July 11, 2019

Cape Bordeaux Red Blend report 2019 Awards at Morgenster, Somerset West

This year’s Cape Bordeaux Red Blend Report 2019 awards ceremony was held at Morgenster Wine Estate in the Helderberg ward of Stellenbosch. We were reminded that this was known in the past as the Red Hot Wine Awards, but this new title does explain the category a little more clearly

Morgenster's Prosecco style bubbly, made from Cabernet Franc, was a good crisp start to the afternoon
Ginny Povall of Botanica and Chris Boustred of Remhoogte had been invited to see if their wines had scored well
The awards ceremony was held on a lovely sunny day, so welcome after a cold, wet week
Jacqueline Lahoud, WineMag’s Business Manager was excited to announce some changes at
The owners, Eileses Capital, have given them a budget for a new look website
and have spent money on helping them to find their Corporate Identity and a new logo
This has taken the last six months and it is now on line for all to see. Click on this link: http//
Judges Christian Eedes and Roland Peens spoke about this year’s competition
Christian told us that entries are down on last year at 65 from 53 producers (2018 was 81 from 64, but that was up on 62 in 2017), evidence of the economic distress in which the South African wine industry finds itself
The standard of wine, however, is as good as ever with 29 of the 65 wines rating 90 plus on the 100 point quality scale. This is equivalent to 44.6% of the line-up whereas, last year, 40.7% made the cut; average score 89.4 this time around, compared to 89.1 a year ago
13 wines scored 90 plus in 2016, 25 in 2017, 23 in 2018 and 29 in 2019, so their conclusion is that quality is entering the competition. Stellenbosch continues to dominate in this category, with 7 of the top 10 and 20 of the top 29 rated 90
Vintages entered: 2015 had 12 entries, 2016 had 25 entries and 13 from 2017. 5 of the top 10 are from 2017. 2015 is a much vaunted vintage internationally; Christian thinks that 2017 will surpass that. The wines of the 2016 vintage are smart, but for earlier drinking, he says. (We disagree; we think they are, to quote Monty Python "just resting". and will come alive given time). The styles of the entries vary, there is no pattern to the blend components. There is lots of experimentation. Some are using all five traditional Bordeaux varieties, but in different combinations, making it difficult to judge. Wood management and new oak vary. Time spent in oak is much less than previously, giving fruitier and fresher wines. Price in an industry in crisis is controversial. There has been a 10% decline in South Africa’s vineyards in 10 years
Roland Peens, one of the judges and the Director of The Wine Cellar, spoke about the style of the wines entered. Should the winemakers pick at 13% or sweeter and riper at 15%. SA is better at making a more classical style and we can compete with Bordeaux. But the average price of R375 doesn’t compare with real Bordeaux prices. The average cellar-door price of the 29 wines to rate 90-plus is R382 a bottle with Vrede en Lust Artisan Range Malbec Petit Verdot 2016 at R150 being the least expensive and MR de Compostella 2016 at R1 300 the most expensive. It’s a premium category, but these wines are still radically under-priced in world terms – a bottle of Bordeaux Second Growth Chateau Cos d'Estournel 2015 will cost you R3 750. How to get into the same market? How to get the prices up? We have to invest. 2015 was an early vintage with optimal ripeness, giving powerful wines. 2017 produced better balanced wines, fresher with structure and integrity. It is too early to call on which will be the best. 1997 and 1998 were his first vintages; both produced more structured wines and were vaunted and the 97 pulled away
Time to hear the results
Bruwer Raats looking pensive
The top 10 wines, in alphabetical order (with ratings alongside), are as follows:
Babylonstoren Nebukadnesar 2017 – 92
Botanica Arboretum 2017 – 94
Eikendal Classique 2017 – 92
Leipzig Grand Master 2017 – 93
Morgenster Estate Reserve 2014 – 93
Morgenster Lourens River Valley 2014 – 92
MR de Compostella 2016 – 92
Raats Family Wines Jasper Red Blend 2017 – 93
Remhoogte Sir Thomas Cullinan 2015 – 93
Vrede en Lust Boet Erasmus 2016 – 92
Alessandra Bertrand was presenting the wine certificates, this one to winemaker Henry Kotze of her own farm Morgenster
She is the daughter of Giulio Bertrand who, sadly, passed away in May last year
She and her sister have taken over the running of Morgenster
Botanica, as the producer of the wine judged best overall, won a new 300-litre Selection barrel worth €903
(equivalent to R14 330 at the time of writing) from Tonnellerie Sylvain, presented by Melanie Sauermann of Tonnellerie Sylvain

The top wine and the only one at 94 points, was winemaker owner Ginny Povall's 2017 Arboretum from Botanica in the Devon Valley in Stellenbosch. It was quite an emotional award for Ginny. Her wines have been gathering high points internationally and scoring well in Platter

We tasted the wines and this is very worthy of top place. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot
It is jam packed with cassis, incense and richness, silky on the palate; it fills the mouth with fruit and gentle soft tannins
Built to last. And, as we have come to expect from Botanica, very pretty labels
Remhoogte Sir Thomas Cullinan 2015. 93, from Stellenbosch. This also has beautiful integrated fruit with a few violets on the nose,
initially shy on the palate then good classic Bordeaux fruit, tannins and licorice wood
Built to last a long time and only a Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon blend
The back label shows the blend and the percentages used
Raats Family Wines Jasper Red Blend 2017 – 93, from Stellenbosch
Another classic Bordeaux nose from Bruwer Raats with violets and incense wood
It is restrained, silky on the palate, with initial umami savouriness, chalky tannins, then the fruit opens on the end,
full dark berry flavours and tannin remain
The back label with the same information
Morgenster Estate Reserve 2014 – 93, from Stellenbosch
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc with a little Petit Verdot
Violets and berry fruit on the nose, berry and rhubarb fruit on the palate
with grippy tannins and long fruit flavours indicate a long life 
Leipzig Grand Master 2017 – 93 was a wildcard for many
This Merlot, Cabernets Sauvignon & Franc and Petit Verdot blend from the Nuy Valley doesn't often appear in competitions
Lots of wood and smoke on the nose, it has good presence on the palate. Soft sweet cassis and mulberry fruit,
with freshness belying the wood notes on the nose. Enjoyable
Boet Erasmus 2016 Vrede and Lust
MR de Compostella 2016 – 92 from Mvemve Raats in Stellenbosch. another classic Bordeaux nose, with soft sweet fruit
and some chalky tannin grip on the teeth and cheeks, with complex wood on the end. Another one built to last, and last
Morgenster Lourens River Valley 2014 – 92 A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot
On the nose, Cabernet Franc wildness with some spice, violets and intense incense wood
Lovely juicy fruit, length and depth with hints of chocolate mocha wood on the end
Eikendal Classique 2017 – 92, from Stellenbosch. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot
Another classic Cassis nose and palate with lots of fruit on the end with dark wood
Still gathering its skirts together, but shows potential
Babylonstoren Nebukadnesar 2017 – 92, on the road to Franschhoek, uses the 5 Bordeaux varieties:
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec
It is quite sophisticated on the nose and on the palate has chalky tannins, lovely soft sweet berry fruit
with a long end and some freshness. Soft tannins remain on the palate
Morgenster winemaker Henry Kotze and Bruwer Raats enjoying the wines on offer and celebrating their wins
Lots of Morgenster olives, good bread, olive paste, humus and excellent charcuterie
including their wild boar salami were there to assuage any hunger; very moreish indeed
The earlier heat and winter smog haze over the Helderberg changes to a crisper cooler picture as the afternoon wears on,
see below 
Sun sets early in winter so, when the pink sunset hits the mountain, it was time to depart;
we do not enjoy driving on the N2 in the dark
All content ©  John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus

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