Friday, July 31, 2020

2020 Shiraz Challenge Results

Despite lock down and all that it entailed, the judging for the 8th Shiraz Challenge went ahead with the top-scoring wines announced at an online awards function this week.Well-known and charming TV personality Marciel Hopkins acted as MC and announced the wines that came up trumps. 
Cultivar association Shiraz SA hosted the event to which producers, members of the media and consumers were invited to log in. “Sadly we could not go ahead with the traditional tasting of finalists, luncheon and announcement of the winners and the online affair was the best second place we could come up with” according to Edmund Terblanche, Chairman of Shiraz SA. 
And the 12 Shiraz champions for 2020are …
(in no particular order)
Koelfontein Shiraz 2017 Kunjani Shiraz 2015
Benguela Cove Estate Syrah 2018 Saronsberg Shiraz 2018
Trizanne Reserve Syrah 2018 Flagstone Dark Horse Shiraz 2016
Babylonstoren Shiraz 2018 Lomond Estate Syrah 2018
De Grendel Elim Shiraz 2018
Old Road Wine Co Pepper Wind Syrah 2018 Wildeberg Red (Boutinot)
Leeuwenkuil Family Vineyards Heritage Syrah
Runners-up in the category for Shiraz were: La Motte Pierneef Syrah Viognier 2017; Bloemendal Tierberg Syrah 2014; Rust en Vrede Estate Vineyards Syrah 2017; De Grendel Shiraz 2016; Alto Shiraz 2017; Rickety Bridge Shiraz 2017; Benguela Cove Lighthouse Syrah 2018 and Stellenview Cape Five Reserve Shiraz 2017. 

The winning Shiraz blendsare:
Saronsberg Full Circle 2018
Babylonstoren Babel 2018
Strandveld The Navigator 2017

Lomond Belladonna SMV 2018; Idiom SMV 2015 and KWV Roodeberg Dr Charles Niehaus 2016 were  the finalists pipped at the post in the blend category. 
This year a new category for Shiraz Rosé was introduced and Stellenbosch Hills Polkadraai Rosé2020 was announced as the winning wine.
Zandvliet Shiraz Rosé 2020 joined KleinoodKatherien Rosé 2019 as runners-up in this category.
“Although the number of rosé wines entered was fairly low, we expect it to grow in the future as this is a style of wine that is fast gathering popularity the world over” said Chairman Edmund Terblanche.
Panel convenor and Cape Wine MasterDr Andy Roedigerremarked that the wines entered in this category were all dry and elegant with little variance in their light blush colour. Wines displayed subtle red fruits with slight spicy undertones and full of vibrant character.
"The Shiraz blends were very well harmonized and did not allow other varieties to dominate in character as sometimes in the past. In general the wines were well structured with good wood management. Surprisingly the older vintages took centre stage, showing Shiraz blends can also age gracefully” according to Roediger.  
Terblanche, also a member of the judging panel, said “The overall quality in the Shiraz category was extremely high and accommodated all the different styles such as pepper-dominated, fruit-driven or spicy. Here the younger vintages of 2017 to 2019 actually outclassed the much talked-about vintage of 2015.”
To that Roediger added “This category was by far the best that I have had in judging Shiraz over the past few years. It shows that South African Shiraz is on par with those of other countries in the world.”
The unique format for tasting that eliminates inter-session discussion of wines and requires each judge to follow his own specific tasting order, was once again utilised. 

“In order to adhere to the guidelines for Covid 19, the judging panel as well as the number of working personnel, had to be reduced and a number of measures put in place” explained Terblanche. “However, we were fortunate in that everything went smoothly and we managed to conclude the four-day judging without any hitches” he added.
This year the panel comprised a line-up of experienced tasters and assisting Dr Roediger were Shiraz SA chairperson and La Motte cellar master Edmund Terblanche; De Grendel cellar master Charles Hopkins; Anthony de Jager cellar master Fairview and owner/winemaker and Cape Wine Master from Eenzaamheid, Janno Briers-Louw.
The main sponsor for the 2020 Shiraz ChallengeisVinventions SA and the firm is proud to have been associated with this competition for eight years, according to Managing Director Johan Conradie. Other contributors wereNederburg, where judging traditionally takes place; supporting software provider and program developer Wine MS; and, the Exceed Group, which supervises judging and audits the results.
Shiraz SA, established in 2008, is currently the largest cultivar organisation with over 230 members. It represents producers of South African Shiraz andits aim is to create awareness of the superior and award-winning wines produced locally from this noble cultivar. 

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Bellevue Reserve Collection Launch

We were invited to take part in this on-line Zoom tasting of Bellevue Wine Reserve Collection Estate wines which took place on Friday 31st July
We have had several invitations to take part in tastings like this, but with no wine. Doing those just makes us feel envious and bereft, so we don't do it. Bellevue got the wines to us in good time and it was extremely enjoyable seeing some of the usual suspects doing the tasting as well. These are the four wines we tasted from Bellevue, which is in the Bottelary area of Stellenbosch, renowned for its Pinotages and Cabernets
Dinah Dick led our Zoom meeting with other members of the wine trade and the media
Dirkie Morkel, who is the viticulturist on the farm, talked us through some of the history, especially of the Pinotage which was the first grown in the Cape and from which the first (Lanzerac branded) Pinotage was made. And which they still grow and make very successfully
Wilhelm Kritzinger, the Cellar Master, told us how he makes the wines and then took us through the tasting. We began with the 2019 Reserve Collection wooded Chardonnay. This is only the second vintage bottled and matured in blond 300 litre French oak barrels. Wilhelm revealed that they use a red wine yeast for this Chardonnay. R209 from the farm. Order now, it will be delivered when lock down is over. It has a classic, attractive Chardonnay character on the nose, buttery pastry, full and rich; wood does not dominate at all. This is repeated on the palate with caramel and buttered toast with lime and lemon. Long flavours, a good balance of acid, wood and fruit with some minerality. We were impressed
Michael Fridjhon was on line too for the tasting. The second wine from the Reserve Collection is the 2016 Bellevue Pinotage, R220. Wilhelm told us this wine ferments in a week on the skins and goes into spontaneous malolactic fermentation. They use French made American oak barrels. So you do get vanilla on the nose, with herbs, incense wood, minerality and sweet cherry jam, raspberry & mulberry fruit, with a hint of wildness. Tight chalky tannins grip the Cherry fruit. Then dark and milk chocolate, so you are reminded of a rich Black Forest cake. A hint of metal, good acidity and balance on second mouthful, then an end of salty minerality. A big wine, one to keep
Journalist and PRO Emile Joubert. The third wine was the Reserve Collection 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon R220. A classic, with cassis in bucketfuls, also blueberries, vanilla and incense wood. Quite ethereal at first, then an invitation to dive in please. Salty licorice, smooth with a chalky grip, then full on fruit fills the palate. We had the rest of this wine with our supper for two nights running and it just got better and better. An excellent food wine for drinking now. Buy some soon
Samarie Smith and Georgio Meletiou commenting on the wines.  The fourth wine was the flagship Reserve Collection 2018 Tumara, a five variety Bordeaux Blend. R235. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, then approx 10% each of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Malbec; the blend of these last four varies each year. Wood on the nose, then violets, then fruit, Richness and complexity, velvety notes of cassis, mulberry, rhubarb, pencil lead, a touch of wildness from the Malbec and ends with an attractive perfume. Rich red and black berry fruit, licorice and Cassis predominated, good acidity, some chalk, wood on the end with dark caramel, then a finish of fruit acidity, showing that it needs time
Wilhelm told us he studied Food Science and then winemaking pulled him down the rabbit hole. He did a harvest with Dirkie in 2002, has now been 19 years at Bellevue and has never looked back. They did run out of money for a while but the new owner, Marinus Neethling, who bought the farm in 2017, has now helped the farm to success. Wilhelm makes site specific wines, and with limited interference and says "if you don’t have the right soils, climate and cultivars you can’t succeed. " An impressive tasting and a lot of fun too. Thank you all at Bellevue for brightening up our Lock Down. May alcohol sales be allowed very soon
Lynne watching on her laptop, glasses at the ready. John sat next to her, so we could taste together and watched on his phone. All the photographs above were photographed off the phone's screen and the images come from a variety of laptop computers and other devices, so we take no responsibility for the quality. We tasted a little of each of the four wines with our supper of Goulash that night to see what they were like with food. All performed well

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Sea Point restaurants protest against a death sentence from an uncaring Government

Many South African restaurants took part in a protest today. In some areas, they managed to block the streets with tables and chairs to emphasise their distress and their plight. We live and work in Sea Point, where Main Road has, for very many years, been a restaurant hub.  The intention had been to do as other areas had done but it seems that, after pressure from the authorities which would have closed the entire operation, it was decided to protest from the side of the road

We started at an old favourite, arguably the most sophisticated restaurant in Sea Point, La Mouette,
where the owners, chef and staff were at the entrance with placards
Owner Gerrit Bruwer with a placard which tells the score
Supported by his staff
A member of staff from the Regent Burger Bar
Mykonos Taverna staff carrying the message
Another favourite, down the road toward the city, is La Boheme Bistro and La Bruixa with a message for Cyril Ramaphosa
Owned by Faisal Khakoo and his Catalonian wife Anna Rascola, who started their operation on the site with her coffee and tapas bar
La Bruixa, “The Witch” in Catalan, while Faisal was still involved with a restaurant in the centre of the city
Rubbish blown onto the verandah of a shut down restaurant
Across the road from La Boheme, the Congregational Church
No Communion here - is Communion wine also embargoed?
Posticino staff occupied empty tables in a silent protest
Then down to Green Point where Portuguese restaurant Caramba! had a telling display
With empty chairs
Carrying messages for the President and his cohorts
And, finally, Henry and Mari Vigar, original owners of La Mouette,
at Upper Bloem with their staff
On one of their empty chairs, a reminder: the suppliers also have dependants.
21 suppliers with an average of. let us say 30 staff each, who have an average family size of 4 = 2520 hungry mouths
And a final word, silently, a message. A long-established Indian restaurant has not survived
South Africa is one of only two countries in the world who have imposed this disastrous embargo. The other is Eswatini, formerly the huge country called Swaziland with a population af about 1 136 000, less than a quarter of the population of Cape Town
In order to mitigate the damage caused by a small number of miscreants who cannot control their consumption of alcohol and other addictive substances, Ms Dlamini Zuma is threatening the livelihoods of about a million people who work in the hospitality and liquor industries
We are seeing people at our door every day, asking for handouts
Not the ordinary beggars, but repectable people who have lost their livelihoods and are desperate
The virus is a cause, but Ms Dlamini Zuma's draconian edicts make her the mother of potential mass starvation
The wine industry is just as threatened and is also facing collapse
She will be recorded in the history books, along with Genghis Khan, Hitler and her hero Joseph Stalin as a progenitor of genocide