2011 Classic Wine Trophy results announced

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on May 30th, 2011

Groot Constantia was overall winner at the fourteenth annual Classic Wine Trophy competition, winemaker Boela Gerber collecting the Bacchus trophy as well as a return flight to France courtesy of the competition. There were some 350 entries in total.

What makes the Classic Wine Trophy remarkable as a competition is that it features an all-French panel. Whereas  financial services institution Santam has been headline sponsor until recently, this year it went ahead without major corporate backing, judges funding their own expenses out of a conviction that the competition was worth keeping alive

Results as follows:

Classic Wine Trophy 2011 Overall Winner Groot Constantia

Best Sparkling Wine Trophy Teddy Hall Wines Blanc de Blanc 2005
Best White Wine Trophy Groot Constantia Gouverneurs Chardonnay 2009
Best Red Wine Trophy Groot Constantia Shiraz 2008
Best Sweet Wine Trophy The Goose Wines Port 2008

Gold Winners White Wine Category
Groot Constantia Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay 2009
Vergelegen Reserve Chardonnay 2009

Gold Winners Red Wine Category
Cape Chamonix Pinot Noir 2008
Druk My Niet Find Art School Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Groot Constantia Pinotage 2009
La Motte Pierneef Shiraz Viognier 2008
Paul Cluver Seven Flags Pinot Noir 2008
Raka Biography Shiraz 2008
Southern Right Pinotage 2009
Thelema Sutherland Cabernet Sauvignon Petit Verdot 2008
Warwick Wine Trilogy 2007

Convenor of the competition was Christophe Durand, of Vins D’Orrance in South Africa. Other judges were Francois Villard, a leading Northern Rhône producer, Ricardo Utarroz, wine writer, Olivier Poels, editor of La Revue du Vin de France, Claude Gilois, French wine importer and writer, Pieter De Villiers, co-owner of the Domaine Mas Angel in the Languedoc Roussillon, Jean Yves Muller, co-owner of Caveau and Headquarters restaurants in South Africa, Jean-Vincent Ridon, of Signal Hill Winery in South Africa, Khaled Rouabah, of Domaine du Coeur in Pommard and Philippe Dietrich, winemaker and director of Michael Partzold Wine Services.

Klein Constantia – of Vin de Constance fame – finds new owners

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on May 28th, 2011

The Jooste family, who have owned Klein Constantia since 1980, have entered into an agreement to sell Klein Constantia to US citizen Zdenek Bakala and Charles Harman from the UK.

Both have been regular visitors to South Africa for the past twenty years, and together with their families now divide their time between their respective homes in Europe and Cape Town. They know the Cape Peninsula especially well – as participants for many years in the Cape Argus cycle race and as devotees of the wines produced in the Constantia Valley.

They are enthusiastic about furthering the development of Klein Constantia as one of South Africa’s top wineries. They are equally focused on preserving the property in its entirety, a commitment the Jooste family was at great pains to secure in a potential buyer.

“We are privileged to be custodians of one of the most historic properties in the Cape, and regard the preservation of this heritage as a serious responsibility.” assures Bakala. Lowell Jooste will be continuing in his role as Managing Director of Klein Constantia. There are no changes planned to the team or operations at Klein Constantia.

Conservation acreage surpasses vineyards in South African Winelands

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on May 27th, 2011

For every one acre planted to vineyards in South Africa, the growers now have 1.27 acres on the farms and estates in conservation status.

These are the latest figures released by the World Wildlife Fund’s Biodiversity and Wine Initiative, a pioneering partnership between the South African wine industry and the conservation sector. The 314 500 acres under conservation are being restored to the indigenous vegetation, and as this process happens, growers are finding that natural water resources return, along with a myriad of wildlife.

South Africa has approximately 250 000 acres under vine. Recent reports that South Africa has had a net decline in vineyards and is facing a wine shortage within 5 years are overstated, said Su Birch, CEO of Wines of South Africa, the generic industry organization. The net reduction in vineyards since 2007 has been less than 1%, and the vineyards that have been removed were largely virused red vineyards that had been too hastily planted during the period when total exports from South Africa absolutely boomed.

Birch stated that South Africa is currently reducing its share of high volume very low-priced sectors of the European market and will focus more on producing higher volumes of the premium quality wines needed to compete more actively in the US and other developing markets. South African wineries are encouraged by the success in the US of brands like Excelsior and Indaba, which are now approaching the 100 000 case per annum mark, having grown depletions by 27% and 24% respectively for the past two years.

This optimism in the bright future of the South African category in the US is evidenced by the investment of Charles Banks, former partner in the cult California producer, Screaming Eagle, into Mulderbosch and the ambitious plans for this estate. Mulderbosch is a member of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative and one of the many farms with land in conservation in South Africa.

Article by Wines of South Africa, WOSA

Quest for old vines by Rosa Kruger bears fruit | Beaumont House

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on May 26th, 2011

It was 1882. Up north, war clouds gathered as tensions increased between Transvaal Boers and Britons. Cecil John Rhodes and Charles Rudd mulled over the development of their recently established De Beers mining company as construction of the Cape-to-Kimberley railway line progressed. Cape wine farmers were systematically and nervously examining their vines for signs of phylloxera. In the Breedekloof, near the present Du Toitskloof Pass, a farmer planted a vineyard of hanepoot grapes.

A century passed, then another two decades. As the dust of a new millennium settled, a woman with a mission came upon this vineyard, somewhat neglected but still bearing grapes. So far, this is the oldest of the Cape heritage vineyards that viticulturist Rosa Kruger has unearthed on her odyssey through the Western Cape.

Kruger, holder of four degrees in journalism and law, tossed aside her previous careers in favour of working in vineyards. After experience in Elgin, Helderberg and Noordhoek, she accepted a post at L’Ormarins, home of Rupert wines, outside Franschhoek. This self-taught viticulturist had long appreciated the stellar qualities found in wines made from venerable vines in Europe.

They had an intensity and depth of flavour and structure surpassing grapes from younger vines.

She set out to discover what vinous treasures were being harboured on remote Cape farms.

Letters to farmers were dispatched, asking if they had vineyards older than 40 years.

The response was encouraging, and Kruger, often accompanied by Eben Sadie of Sadie Family Wines, set off on journeys which took her to the Klein Karoo, to the citrus country, to the West Coast, the Robertson valley, Stellenbosch, the Paardeberg and the Helderberg.

And she struck gold, assembling a treasure trove of cultivars on her travels: a lot of chenin, cinsaut and palomino. But also hanepoot, raisin blanc, muscat, semillon, Grenache noir and more. Usually immensely practical, Kruger can get a little misty-eyed when she wanders through a mountain vineyard that has been budding, flowering, fruiting and shedding its leaves since the Union of South Africa came into being in 1910.

Those she deemed worthy of restoration were listed, and their owners advised. Thanks to financial support from Rupert, partnerships with these farmers were formed. She offered advice and helped restore the vines to fruitful life over the next couple of seasons.

A few of them have already been incorporated into a new range just released at L’Ormarins, others are awaiting interested investors.

In 2007, L’Ormarins red winemaker Dawie Botha made a pinotage from a 40-year-old Swartland vineyard on the Basson farm Nooitgedacht in the Paardeberg. High altitude bush vines yielded berries that have been transformed into a seductively floral wine, quite delicate for a pinotage, but with lingering flavours and satisfactory structure.

It’s a fine example of the exciting heights this indigenous grape can reach. The second red is a merlot, made from a small non-heritage block in what is now residential Somerset West. The Parel Vallei farmstead merlot is well-rounded and will appeal to many palates.

Last year cellarmaster Neil Patterson increased the new range with a trio of whites, the most outstanding of which is a semillon, made from a 50-year-old vineyard high on the Skurfberg, a stretch of farmland between Lamberts Bay and Clanwilliam. The vineyards are edged with wheat, apricot orchards, rooibos tea and fynbos. The wine is a triumph – citrus and granadilla on the nose carrying through to the palate, followed by creaminess that is balanced by flint – adding up to brilliant complexity.

The Stettyn mountain slopes near Villiersdorp yielded the chardonnay grapes that have been transformed into the carefully wooded Cape of Good Hope Serruria chardonnay, which doesn’t overpower but offers an array of delicate, delicious flavours.

Back to the West Coast region, where old chenin on the Skurfberg mountains, having thrived in red sand for some three decades, now reveal their potential in a delicious rich wine, tangy, well balanced after being aged in old large French barrels for 10 months.

The five form the Cape of Good Hope range, which was presented for informal sampling at a function at L’Ormarins recently, after a formal tasting of international wines. The latter had been carefully sourced in Europe and Australia as they, too, were produced from very old vineyards, the oldest being Grenache and shiraz from the Barossa valley aged between 120 and 130 years.

Host Johann Rupert stressed that young winemakers need to be made aware of these revived vines, and use the grapes in their wines. The farmers’ contact details are on the website www.rupertwines.com.

While making scathing remarks about the standard of wine journalism in South Africa, he nevertheless exhorted those writers present to spread the word, so that adventurous producers can take advantage of the unique qualities of these veteran vines.

Kruger hasn’t completed her mission yet, as she intends to hunt down archaic shiraz in South Africa and plans to import a few antique cultivars from the Old World.

Right now she is in Eastern Europe, advising vineyard owners on how to restore their ancestral vineyards. Her quest has afforded her great joy for several years, she says. Her efforts are benefiting rural custodians in far-flung corners of the Cape and will be appreciated in future by consumers enjoying the unique qualities of wines yet to be made.

Article by Myrna Robins

US tycoon moves into Cape Wine and buys Mulderbosch

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on May 26th, 2011

A high-powered American whose California winery used to sell wine for around R8 000 a bottle has bought Mulderbosch, an estate in the prime Koelenhof area of Stellenbosch, for an undisclosed sum.

He is just one of a number of wealthy foreigners who are moving into the Cape winelands in a big way.

American Charles Banks, who used to own the cult California winery Screaming Eagle, heads the California-based investment group Terroir Capital which has bought Mulderbosch.

Banks is a former president of CSI Capital Management, which handles investments for millionaire professional athletes drawn from the football, basketball and baseball world. Punk rockers Green Day and Hollywood movie stars were also reportedly his clients.

Andre Morgenthal, spokesman for Wines of South Africa (Wosa), said the amount of international investment in the local wine industry was definitely a vote of confidence in South Africa.

“We don’t need to feel inferior to any other winemaking region in the world,” said Morgenthal.

He said Terroir Capital’s recent acquisition of Mulderbosch kept up the positive momentum created by the World Cup legacy.

However, while a number of foreigners owned property in the Cape Winelands, the wine region was not being completely taken over. “The majority are investors or shareholders and so the estates are not 100 percent foreign owned.”

According to an article on Wosa’s website, wineries owned by or with foreign interest total 111, about 16 percent of the total.

The owners are mostly Dutch, French, British, German, American and Swiss, although countries such as Israel, Russia, Singapore, Australia and the Congo are also piling in.

Among the more prominent foreigners are Anne Cointreau-Huchon from a French Cognac-making family who bought Stellenbosch’s Morgenhof 10 years ago; May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, former owner of Château Pichon-Longueville; Comtesse de Lalande, who bought the farm Glenelly; and Preston Haskell of Haskell Vineyards, a flamboyant American property mogul based in Moscow.

Ben Truter, previous owner of Mulderbosch and Kanu winery, also in Stellenbosch, said Banks had told him this was the right time to make South African investments.

He said it could result in interest from other US investors.

Sean Griffiths, marketing manager of Mulderbosch, said most of the existing team would stay on.

Andy Erickson, winemaker at Screaming Eagle, will lead the Mulderbosch winemaking team beginning with the 2011 vintage, although cellarmaster Richard Kershaw will remain in place.

Griffiths said Andre Shearer of Cape Classics, which exports South African wines including those from Mulderbosch to the US, had introduced Banks to South Africa.

“It’s fantastic for SA wine. The company could have invested anywhere but they obviously see value in what we have achieved here.”

Griffiths described Banks as a “dynamic, entrepreneurial, straight -shooting guy” who “knows exactly what he wants”.

Terroir also purchased Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards in September 2010.

Banks earlier told the Wine Spectator he was looking for other opportunities in South Africa.

Screaming Eagle’s wines sell for between $750 and $1 000 a bottle.

Article by helen.bamford

South Africa’s first Michelin Star food and wine pairing competition

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on May 24th, 2011

In South Africa’s first Michelin Star food and wine pairing competition held at Cape Town’s Mount Nelson Hotel, Hermanuspietersfontein’s Swartskaap walked away with the honour as the best wine match to any of the six courses entered.

The Mount Nelson team, Executive Chef Rudi Liebengerg and Sommelier Carl Habel, caused quite a stir with their Impala loin, roasted onion and cauliflower puree, truffle dauphinoise and baby vegetables, perfectly paired with two wines, the South African Hermanuspietersfontein Swartskaap Cabernet Franc 2008 and the Salentein Numina Gran Corte 2007 from Argentina which made them the winners of the groundbreaking food and wine pairing competition, the Great Grapes Cape Cuisine Cook-Off.

Only two the twelve wines in the competition were South African – the rest were wines from all over the wine world, proving that South African wine does not have to stand back for any international wine and that local winemakers produce exceptional food wines.

“We are truly blessed with great terroir on our cool climate BWI Champion conservation farm,” says an elated Bartho Eksteen, “The energy that goes into our farm philosophy, Good Earth makes Better Wine, is becoming evident in all our wine styles.”

The event was initiated and organised by Marita de Beer, managing partner of Great Grapes Wine, South Africa – who is an importer and distributor of a select portfolio of international wines.

Article by Hermanuspietersfontein Wingerde

Best of Wine Tourism Awards opens on a new wave of optimism

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on May 24th, 2011

New Government backing for South African wine tourism, Cape Town’s selection as the top city in the Travellers’ Choice Destination by the world’s largest travel site, TripAdvisor, and the inclusion of three Cape restaurants on the 2011 S. Pellegrino World’s 100 Best Restaurants list were all great news for local wineries, said industry spokesperson André Morgenthal.

Announcing the opening of the new Best of Wine Tourism Awards made by the Great Wine Capitals global network, he said there was a new mood of optimism among local wineries. “Producers are enormously encouraged that wine tourism has just been identified by national Government as a big plus in the country’s competitive advantage over many other long-haul destinations. At the same time, key players in the Cape’s tourism industry, together with the office of the Western Cape Premier and the provincial department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, are collaborating on a joint strategy to maximise tourism opportunities.

“These initiatives are taking place as global tourism is on the increase and the middle class in developing economies is rapidly expanding. In Africa alone, according to figures released this month (May) by the World Economic Forum, the continent’s middle class now numbers around 300 million people. We have also learned that emerging countries are becoming more popular travel destinations than their developed counterparts.

“This is a good time for tourism and South African wineries are ideally placed to take advantage of these developments, coupled as they are with some very positive publicity for Cape Town and Cape Winelands restaurants over the last few weeks.”

He urged local wineries to enter the Best of Wine Tourism Awards both to benchmark themselves against international best practice and to generate wider awareness of their offerings.

In addition to Cape Town/Cape Winelands, the other members of the global network are Bilbao-Rioja (Spain), Bordeaux (France), Florence (Italy), Mainz (Germany), Mendoza (Argentina), Porto (Portugal), San Francisco-Napa (United States) and Christchurch (New Zealand).

“Winning the awards and joining the company of some of the most iconic wine establishments throughout the world has proved a major boost for many of the past winners. There is also the additional benefit to the overall South African winner each year, which is entitled to nominate a member of staff to visit a wine-producing country within the network.”

The most recent winner, Steenberg Vineyards, sent Zelda Petrus (44), a former cleaner at the winery who now has responsibility for its high-profile front-of-house cellar door sales, to California in March this year to learn more about wine sales and marketing in the famous Napa Valley. “Such an opportunity would scarcely have been possible if it were not for the Best of Wine Tourism Awards. Ms Petrus met with some of the leading names in wine tourism and was able to share her experiences with her colleagues.”

Anetha Homan, Steenberg’s sales and marketing manager said the renewed attention and additional exposure resulting from the win had been “astonishing”. She said that when the news became known, just before the start of the summer season, cellar sales had flourished, despite the ongoing recession. Winning, she added, had also been an affirming experience for staff, who had “added new pride to their service”.

Morgenthal said a group of highly respected specialists in their fields would be judging across the awards’ seven categories that included accommodation, architecture and landscapes, art and culture, innovative wine tourism experiences, sustainable wine tourism practices, winery restaurants and wine tourism services.

“Once the category shortlists have been confirmed, the organisers will once again arrange for wine and travel bloggers to visit the wineries concerned. They arrive unannounced so they don’t receive any special treatment but generally, it has proved to be very beneficial in raising publicity for participants amongst a very influential group of opinion-formers.”

The closing date for entries is Monday, June 20, 2011.

The category finalists will be announced in the spring and the overall winner will be identified at a gala event in Mainz in November, at which representatives from the international wine tourism industry will be present.

In addition to Steenberg Vineyards, other former South African winners of the Best of Wine Tourism Awards have included Vergelegen (three times), Nederburg, Waterford and Rust & Vrede.

Article by Wines of South Africa (WOSA)

Cape Wine comes to London in October 2011 | Beaumont House

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on May 20th, 2011

Wines of South Africa is rebranding its biennial Mega Tasting in London as Cape Wine Europe.

The move aligns the event more closely with Cape Wine, its main tasting event held every two years in South Africa itself.

Cape Wine Europe takes place at Earl’s Court on October 11 and 12 and is expected to attract visitors from a wider range of countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Canada and the US.

Wines of South Africa chief executive Su Birch said: “Cape Wine in South Africa is the southern hemisphere’s most successful professional wine show and has become a highlight on the international calendar amongst both the trade and media internationally.

“The Mega Tasting is also a ‘must attend’ event in Europe and it therefore makes complete sense to align the Mega Tasting with Cape Wine and rename the event Cape Wine Europe.”

The new website, capewineeurope.com, is currently under construction but further details about Cape Wine Europe will be available there shortly.

By Graham Holter

Do Unpronounceable Wine labels put you off? We hope not!

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on May 19th, 2011

Neal Martin, critic-at-large for eRobertParker, America’s most important wine publication, and one of the three international wine judges at the 2011 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show, finds the name of top local cellar “Boekenhoutskloof” just about unpronounceable. He refers to it provisionally as the “chair wine” after the seven antique chairs made from the Boekenhout tree (Cape Beech) that appear on the label and argues that all the wines under this label would enjoy even greater international standing than they do if they were known as “Marc Kent Wines” after the man responsible for making them.

Martin is not the first person to argue that multi-syllable Dutch names that seek to commemorate South Africa’s 350-year winemaking heritage are in fact a hindrance to greater international acceptance. Simply put, the more difficult the punter finds a wine’s name to say, the more reluctant he is to order it. “Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue either,” I counter. “Yes, but it has over a hundred years of history as one of the great properties of Bordeaux,” says Martin.

That the majority of consumers find wine confusing is well established. However, while it might appear that the obvious reaction on the part of the trade should be to simplify their offering, my instinct is that a certain level of complexity and intrigue when it comes to wine is imperative.

A big part of the reason people drink wine is because it represents an affordable luxury. In terms of cultural prestige, it sits near the peak of agricultural endeavour and its worth is therefore not so much practical but symbolic, something that lifts us out of the everyday and allows us to contemplate such issues as what constitutes the timeless and the classic.

Now all of this does not necessarily make consumers hungry for greater wine information and education. On the contrary, many remain obstinately comfortable with a relatively high level of ignorance. Factors affecting taste and quality such as variety, climate, aspect and soil that the wine geek might mull over endlessly are typically of little consequence to the average Joe: as long as the packaging looks good and he can afford it, he’s going to buy it and if it tastes alright, he might buy it again.

The thing is, however, wine remains a treat. Many consumers might only relate to the mystique of wine in a subconscious way, but that mystique depends on a minimum level of complexity. There is, of course, much about wine which is unreasonably mystifying and any complexity that does not add value should be eradicated but strip complexity out altogether and the danger exists that wine loses its aspirational tag and simply becomes a commodity.

It is in this regard that I feel names are crucial, these signifiers of provenance and heritage among the most potent, if loaded, means of ensuring wine doesn’t become banal. Too many Yellow Tails, Obikwas and Tall Horses and our lives become a little cheaper in every sense.

Article by Christian Eedes

When do Wine Competitions Become Too Much?

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on May 18th, 2011

It’s often that we see a wine bottle adorned with a lot of what we like to call “bling”. This bling would refer to the awards stickers you’ll find all around the label announcing the bronze, silver, gold or double gold medals from the various competitions.

To date, the main competitions for South African producers have been the Michaelangelo International Wine Awards , the Veritas Awards , the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show and to a slightly lesser extent the Winemaker’s Choice awards.

Of course, there are a host of other smaller wine competitions that merely serve as a feather in the cap of local wine producers rather than being an influence in the mind of buyers standing in the wine section of their local supermarket, i.e. most of us.

For some reason, however, the organisers of the brand new Top 100 South African Wines competition felt that we, in fact needed yet another competition. As with every such event, the competition was met with much scepticism. Seemingly, entries were fairly limited with some of the bigger names in the industry sitting out the 2011 round, to see what the competition was all about before committing their names to anything.

Overall, a total of 411 wines were entered into this debut competition, of which 222 were red, 143 were white and 25 fell under the blanket of ‘other’ such as MCC’s, dessert wines or fortified wines. And from this rather interesting ‘balance’ the Top 100 South African wines were chosen. From a mere 411 entries? Really?

Noticably absent were wines from Kanonkop, Meerlust, Vergelegen, De Toren, De Trafford, Eagle’s Nest… I think you get the gist. How can this then be an accurate representation of the top 100 wines from South Africa? Sure, for the 100 winning wines and their producers, this is a fabulous opportunity since anyone from outside the country, upon hearing such a title has been bestowed on the bottle proudly perched on their table will have positive results,however, the reality is that this is simply untrue. Saying this, no one wants to take anything away from the winners. At all. In fact, the producers most certainly have reason to be proud of their achievement.

It’s not that there isn’t a place for such a competition. It’s more that these types of competitions need to be planned more carefully and perhaps the naming needs to be given a bit more thought. There’s no saying whether the competition will grow into its name in time, which it may well do. The benefits of a bona-fide top 100 wines competition could prove to be highly beneficial to the South African wine and tourism industries. In the meantime, it’s probably well worth knowing your wine competitions from your wine ‘listings’

Article courtesy of Wine Extra


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