Friday, August 09, 2019

Winemag Signature Red Blend Report 2019 presentation at Guardian Peak, Stellenbosch

An invitation to cover the 4th Annual Signature Red Blends Awards at Guardian Peak this week had lots of winemakers present to see what their wines had scored. It's a reward for those who are prepared to try something different with their blends and anything goes, as long as its not the Bordeaux Blend covered in the Cape Bordeaux Blend awards held a few weeks ago. We tasted some phenomenal wines. It would seem that the recent plantings of these varietals have now come of age as they are patently producing superb wines
The welcome drink was a glass of Dainty Bess Rosé MCC,
made from Pinot Noir by Christian Eedes’ wife Jane and very delicious it is too
Jacqueline Lahoud, Business Director of, asked "Should SA be following the Bordeaux style with our red wines, given our climate and terroir? Rhône might be a better direction? After all, some of our most famous old classics like Rustenberg Red, Chateau Libertas and Oude Libertas were made with grapes like Cinsault and other varieties, not in the Bordeaux style, and have lasted very well. 58 entries were received from 42 producers and the average score was 89.8, compared to 68 entries from 54 producers and an average score of 89.25 in 2018. There were 32 wines which rated 90 or higher on the 100-point quality scale compared to 30 a year ago. so a very impressive result
The judges: Christian Eedes, James Pietersen and Roland Peens looked for complexity and balance
They were surprised at how many winemakers used their own instincts when making these blends
Listening to the awards presentation with anticipation
This year, the wines were so good that they have a Top 12
Christian Eedes hopes that the concept is catching on. He said that we must be careful about what we take to the rest of the world. In the past fabulous South African blends were not "in the box" and that is what we should be trying to do. No rules, no minimums or maximums in this class; that is unnecessarily complicated and we should be trying to recognise the SA Blends for what they are. Eben Sadie’s Columella is a case in point. There were some oldies in the competition which have scored well and there are some new wines. Anything goes; the judges found the top scoring wines seamless. Blending was confident and they are in balance. And they often not the most expensive wines. The average price is R200 a bottle (cf. R400 for the Bordeaux class.) different varietals are now making great wines but, sadly, we don’t have many of those vines yet. Cinsault makes up 1.8% of our 93021 ha of vines, Grenache only 0.4% and these two varieties are becoming quite influential in blends, making them fresher, fruitier and more complex. The report states that "Of the 58 entries, 23 carried the very broad designations of either “WO Western Cape”or “Coastal Region”, leading to the thought that many producers are compelled to search far and wide for the various components they need to bring a wine."  It looks as though we should be planting more of these interesting grapes which are showing so well
Winemaker Louis Strydom asked: What defined the top wines? Style? Elegance? Christian answered that one of the best wines was not identified by any of the judges and they said it was one of the best tasting of the year and was very enjoyable. He said that the 2016 and 2017 vintages were Cinsault driven. To see the final awards, go to
All the award winners with their certificates
Donkiesbaai Rooiwijn 2017; 94, R300
From the West Coast, is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah
Rust en Vrede Estate 2016; 94, R400
A blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah
Fairview Extraño 2016, 93, R105
An interesting blend of Tempranillo, Grenache, Carignan
Vondeling Monsonia 2016; 93, R225
A blend of Shiraz, Mourvedre, Carignan and Grenache
Org de Rac Die Waghuis 2017; 93, R150
An unusual blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Verdelho
Plaisir De Merle Grand Plaisir 2014; 93, R430
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Shiraz 
Alto Rouge 2016; 92, R120
& Alto Rouge 2017; 92, R120
They are blends of Cabernet Franc, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot
DeMorgenzon Maestro Blue 2017
A blend of Syrah, Grenache Noir, Mourvedre and Petite Sirah
Ernie Els Big Easy Red Blend 2017; 92, R165
A blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvedre and Viognier
Nederburg The Motorcycle Marvel 2017; 92, R205
A Rhône blend of Carignan, Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvèdre and Cinsault
Underworld Blend 3 2018 (Strange Kompanjie); 92, R90
from Wildeberg. A coastal blend of Rhône varietals: Grenache Noir, Durif, Carignan and Mourvèdre
Platters of very good canapés to stave off hunger. One comment to the chef
The small rounds of fillet steak coated in ground black pepper are perhaps not the wisest thing to serve during a wine tasting!
It does have the effect of completely blowing one's palate for an hour or so, nice as it is
Some shot glasses of cold soup
All content ©  John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus

No comments: