Thursday, November 28, 2019

Diners Club Winemaker and Young Winemaker of the Year presentation at La Residence, Franschhoek

The 2019 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year (and the Young Winemaker of the year) Awards dinner was held last Saturday night at La Residence in Franschhoek. The event began at 6 pm. It is always a Black Tie event. As no accommodation or transport was provided for media this year, we were lucky enough to be able to arrange to stay over near Franschhoek at Angala Boutique Hotel. Driving home from a late event involving wine is something we do not do

and, on arrival, we were welcomed with a glass of Colmant Rosé MCC or Colmant Brut MCC
Jill and Walter Finlayson (1981 winner, the first year of the competition) with their daughter and son in law,
Carolyn and Jean Claude Martin. Jean Claude was one of the 5 finalists for Winemaker of the Year
with his excellent Pinot Noir, 2018 Creation Estate Pinot Noir
Bloggers Leanne Beatty and Roxanne La Vita
Ubers had been arranged to get them to and from the event
A view of La Residence from the end of the garden
There were three canapés, mozzarella cheese served with compressed and coloured cucumber,
a chicken roulade and small toasts with mushroom paté and tomato 
Peter de Wet of De Wetshof was a Winemaker of the Year finalist with his Nature in Concert Pinot Noir, one we admire a lot;
here with Elizabeth and Wade Roger-Lund
Wade, who is a winemaker at Jordan wine estate, was the Young Winemaker of the Year in 2017
Bernie Hellberg, editor of Signature magazine, with Mariette and Richard Kershaw
Richard was one of the finalists for the Winemaker of the Year with his two superb Pinot Noirs
Long tables on each side of the room seated about 80 people
The room's lighting changes colour from red to pink to orange; it makes photography rather challenging 
The table setting
Jean-Pierre Rossouw, Publisher of the Platter Wine Guide was the MC for the evening
The award is presented to the winemaker who produces a wine that the judges consider to be the best in a specified class
The categories for 2019 were Pinot Noir for Winemaker of the Year,
and White Wines of any varietal or blend for Young Winemaker of the Year
As in previous years, winemakers can be shortlisted for more than one submission
This year’s judges were Nigel Greening (the International judge), Carrie Adams (Head judge),
Debi Van Flymen CWM, Gregory Mutambe, Michael Crossley and Nomonde Kubheka
Head of the Card division of Diners Club, Ethel Nyembe
Eshvaran Naidoo, MD of Diners Club South Africa, said that cultivating wine makers in this competition means that they have a sustainable future in the winelands. He admitted that he is a novice in wine, having converted from Tequila to wine, and he is up to the challenge of being converted. Of course, this is not the only side of the wine industry that they support, he said. They also sponsor the annual Wine List Awards to restaurants and the annual Platter Wine Guide. Tonight is about the winemakers’ skill and genius. To quote a Chinese proverb: "Honour the teachers who go before, of the present and those of the future to come"
The competitors for Young Winemaker of the year are:
Last year's winner, Rudger van Wyk of Stark-Condé Wines – with his 2018 Field Blend
Tim Whitfield of Tokara – with his 2019 Sauvignon Blanc
Thys Smit of Grande Provence – with his 2018 Grande Provence Chardonnay and 2018 Grande Provence Chenin Blanc
James Ochse of Stellenbosch Hills – with his 2017 Kastanjeberg
Herman Du Preez of Stellenrust – with his 2018 The Apprentice White Cinsault

Rudger van Wyk, ready to hand over the trophy to the new Young Winemaker of the Year who is...
Herman du Preez (Stellenrust Wines)
A delighted Herman made a very concise and accomplished acceptance speech. He has been with Stellenrust since 2014 and wanted to do something different with their Cinsault, which excites him. The winning wine is called The Apprentice, which is what he was when he joined Stellenrust. It is a red grape varietal. However, he has produced a white wine from it. The colour is removed by various processes, like passing the juice through charcoal. It was rather cheeky to submit this wine in a White Wine competition and it was a little controversial. However, the judges did deem it the best white wine on show. His prize is R25 000 cash and a return air ticket to a wine producing region - T's & C's of the presenting sponsor apply
The wines served with the courses are the winning wines
and with our starter we had The Apprentice, the Stellenrust White Cinsault
It is quite intense on the nose with definite red wine characteristics, slightly dusty, with rhubarb
and also aromas and flavours we associate with Chenin blanc, a varietal which Stellenrust does very well
It has crispness and is smooth in texture with lemon and some salt on the end palate
It does ask to be paired with food
The back label
Herb crusted farmed Kabeljou was the starter, crisp on top. moist and flaky below
Served on a bed of salad leaves and baby tomatoes, mange tout and courgette ribbons
Dressed with a white peach and rooibos dressing
The contenders for Winemaker of the Year watching the preamble to the presentation for that award
Tense moments as we watched a video introducing all the finalists and their wines:
Jacques de Klerk - Radford Dale - 2018 Radford Dale Freedom Pinot Noir
Richard Kershaw - Kershaw Wines - 2018 Clonal Selection Elgin Pinot Noir & 2018 Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge Pinot Noir
Daniel Keulder - Nitida - 2017 Nitida Pinot Noir
Jean-Claude Martin - Creation Wines - 2018 Creation Estate Pinot Noir 
Peter de Wet - De Wetshof - 2017 Nature in Concert Pinot Noir 
and the winner is
Daniel Keulder, Nitida Pinot Noir 2017
with the trophy presented to him by Clayton Reabow of Môreson, last year's Winemaker of the Year
Danie, very excited, told us that he has a 5 degree angle on the Burgundy style
He made his first Pinot Noir in 2015 and is now really into Pinot Noir. He believes it should show complexity, layering and balance
The wine is from the 2017 vintage and is perfumed with roses and raspberries, pale cherries and a hint of smoke
On the palate, sweet raspberry fruit, which is then contrasted with morello cherry, warmth of alcohol
Dark wood shows on the end with very long flavours
The back label
Pan roasted veal loin was served with a blueberry sauce and a sharp roasted plum. Not flavours we found in the wine at all
The dish was accompanied by Pommes Anna, heirloom carrots and charred baby onions, very fashionable at the moment,
but they do not add much to dishes, except as containers for a jus when there is some
The dessert: a Strawberry and Granadilla Opera Cake with just a thin top layer of chocolate
Served with a fruity Pink Martini sorbet, aged balsamic vinegar and a black pepper tuile
No dessert wine or coffee was offered to us
Young winemaker of the year Herman du Preez (Stellenrust Wines) with his trophy,
presented by last year’s Young Winemaker of the year, Rudger van Wyk of Stark Condé
Rudger also entered this year
Winemaker of the year Daniel Keulder with his trophy,
 presented by last year's Winemaker of the year, Clayton Reabow of Môreson
Peter de Wet with last year's winner Clayton Reabow and 2010 winner Bartho Eksteen
The band started to play on the terrace and we left soon afterwards at just after 11
We did not see many people dancing this year
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