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National Wine Challenge Double Gold Awards 2018
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Robin Von Holdt reviews Double Gold Awards for the National Wine Challenge (NWC) 2018.

“The Double Gold category is a very important category of winners in the NWC. Winning wines are really fine examples of their particular cultivar or blend.  Often they reflect sound regional character too and show a sense of place.  Most of these winning wines are complex, well balanced and offer immense enjoyment either now or in the short to medium term.  It was a difficult award to achieve, given the number of entries, as well as the levels of, stiff competition.  Thus, a limited number of awards were made.  Each wine had to get through the judging panels arduous tasting and assessment.  Then, if it cracked the all-important nod, it still had to achieve a score of between 87 and 90+, or else risk elimination.  No small feat!
 
With only 138 wines gaining this prestigious Double Gold Award, it was an even smaller percentage of all the fine wine entries received than previously and well in line with international standards.
 
Our congratulations go to each and every cellar and winemaker who achieved this rock-solid recognition for their fine wine. Well done, it is a great achievement!”

 
Significant Double Gold Award winners include the following wineries:

Fairview 9

Simonsig 7
Ormonde 6
Flagstone 5
Jordan 5
Alvis Drift 4
Spier 4
Ultra Liquors 4
Zewenwacht 4
Fort Simon 3
Nuy 3
Paul Cluver 3
Paul Wallace 3
Rickety Bridge 3
Shannon 3
Stellenbosch Vineyards 3

2 wins each: Almenkerk, Cloof, de Krans, Doolhof, Eikendal, Graham Beck, Groot Constantia, Ken Forrester, Klein Constantia, Longridge, Orange River Cellars, Overgaauw, Raats, Saronsberg, Vrede en Lust, Vriesenhof, Zorgvliet.


QUOTES FROM A NUMBER OF WINNING VINEYARDS, IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER:

Aaldering Vineyards & Wines (1)

Marianne and Fons Aaldering, owners: “Aaldering Vineyards & Wines - Luxury Lodges is a family owned boutique winery. Located in Devon Valley, Stellenbosch we pride ourselves in producing exceptional wines through sustainable practices. We are delighted to announce, that the Aaldering Vineyards & Wines Estate Chardonnay 2017 received Double Gold in the Top 100 SA wine awards 2018. Congratulations to our wine maker and cellar team on this honor.”

Alvis Drift (1)

Alvi van der Merwe and the wine making team: “We feel very honored to be awarded double gold in such a prestigious competition.  Our philosophy of healthy ripe fruit and carefully handcrafted wine has been recognized and rewarded, which we are grateful for.”

Asara (1)

Pete Gottgens, Estate Manager:“This is proof that team work, good strategy great Team and understanding owners are all needed to achieve success in this tough industry.”

Avontuur (1)

Jan van Rooyen, winemaker: “Cabernet Sauvignon 2014: Stellenbosch is known for its quality Cabernet Sauvignons, and at Avontuur we love making this wine.  Helderberg Cabernets are elegant but full-bodied and show off our terroir beautifully. Baccarat 2012 - This is a wine of new beginnings and classic endings, with the first-time inclusion of Petit Verdot and the swansong of an old vineyard which delivered a tiny bit of Ruby Cabernet to add lovely red fruit.”

Babylonstoren (1)

Klaas Stoffberg – Winemaker:
“Receiving a double gold for our Sprankel 2013 is very special for us. We released our first Sprankel (MCC) two years ago and by winning this award also shows that the wine is a reflection of the good quality we have to offer.”

Bon Courage (1)

Jacques Bruwer, winemaker. Brut 2011:“Due to a cool summer and higher temperatures just before harvest, earlier optimum ripeness and good quality grapes were acquired. We decided to declare a vintage and to leave it at least 72 months on the leese before disgorging, which led to a wine with great complexity, rich and full-bodied.”

Boplaas (1)

Carel and Margaux Nel:  “Rightfully regarded as the “King of Portuguese vines”;the hardy Touriga Nacional with its small dark berried bunches, penchant for low-yields and fulsome tannins, enabling thoughtful winemakers the ability to craft powerfully elegant wines possessing incredible longevity.  Together with the Branca and Ring of Rocks, Boplaas is considered as a premium producer of Cape Portuguese style wines.”

Boschkloof (1)

Reenen Borman: “Receiving double gold and double silver medals are a stamp of approval from an international experienced panel of judges. This will most definitely help the consumer to make better purchasing decisions.”

Cederberg (1)

Alex Nel, White Winemaker:“From the highest lying vineyards in the Western Cape, Cederberg Shiraz, to the southernmost tip, Ghost Corner The Bowline,  both the wines receiving these awards need no further explanation. Except to be enjoyed with lasting memories.”

De Krans (1)

Louis van der Riet, wine maker: “We are very happy with the 2018 NWC/Top 100 results.  It again shows the quality of the Cape Portuguese varietals and with the ever changing climate these varieties will in the future become more and more important as the trend for a dryer Western Cape seems more realistic every day.”

De Wetshof (1)

CEO Johann de Wet: “With a Double Gold for our wooded Finesse Chardonnay and Double Silvers for Pinot Noir and an unwooded Chardonnay, the results of this competition can assure the wine lover that these wines have passed rigorous scrutiny from knowledgeable judges. This is the most important role of competitions like these: offering the consumer expert guidance in his or her purchasing decision.”

Diemersfontein (1)

Francois Roode, winemaker:  “Our Carpe Diem Pinotage is our flagship in the range of Diemersfontein wines.  Receiving this award shows that we are delivering consistent top quality Pinotage each year. The Carpe Diem Pinotage wine has received a number of awards over the years and remain close to our hearts.  Grapes come from three selected older Pinotage vineyards. Each block delivering something unique to the blend, intensity of fruit and structure. Pinotage can stand its own with the others like Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.”

Doolhof (1)

Gielie Beukes, Winemaker: “The 2016 being an overall challenging vintage, we are absolutely overjoyed with these results. Our single vineyard Malbec has always been a firm favourite with our loyal following and when Merlot is making a strong comeback in the local market, we are proud to be recognized in this category as well.”

Fairview (9)

Charles Back, proprietor:Our winemaking team is clearly doing something right! Again, it is great to see a range of different varieties and styles winning Double Gold, and I’m particularly proud of both the Fairview Rose Quartz 2017 and Spice Route Saffron 2017 receiving such esteemed recognition. It has been both Fairview and Spice Route’s intention to elevant rosé to new heights, and I think that these two bottlings truly highlight the potential dry, serious rosé has in our vineyards! Watch this space.”

Flagstone (5)

Gerhard Swart, Head Winemaker: “Having five wines achieving double gold on top of the three Top 100 wines makes us immensely proud. Taking into account that all five of these wines are recent new vintage releases, makes this win even bigger. I am very proud of the team.”

Fort Simon (3)

Dirk Tredoux, winemaker: “Our team works very hard and close together to achieve greatness, so we are very pleased with the results. As the winemaker I am very privilege to work with such great terroir, with north and south facing slopes that goes up to 370 meters above sea-level and grapes that explode with flavours.”

Graham Beck (1)

Pieter Ferreira, Cellarmaster: “Both the Double Gold and Double Silver awards are well deserved and further proof that these wines have what it takes to compete and hold their own against their global counterparts. The two Rosés consistently perform well both locally and abroad, while the Brut NV is a supremely versatile bubbly and often the Graham Beck MCC which first kindles your enduring love affair with our range.”

Highlands Road: (1)

Michael White, owner: “For our maiden Semillon single variety to be awarded tells us that there should be a bright future for this wine, and the award for our Chardonnay carries on the reputation that cool climate versions of this variety is building.”

Jordan (5)

Gary Jordan, proprietor: “ Five Double Gold Award as well as a Double Silver Award: “In addition to our three Double Platinum/Top 100 winning wines as well as our Grand Cru Best in Class winning wine, Jordan Wine Estate is delighted to receive five double Gold awards and a Double Silver award.”

Ken Forrester (2)

Proprietor Ken Forrester: “THE FMC really is a lifetime project, the holy grail. My quest to create the best white wine. Hand selected Chenin Blanc from low yielding, old bush vines, planted in 1974. Rich, bright, layered fruit with dried apricot, vanilla and honey. To be served with the best seafood – lobster, scallops – rich and luxurious. Truly a benchmark. THE GYPSY from a remote hillside vineyard. This wine is dictated by the site at 600m. A hand-picked selection of the first ripest fruit. A very concentrated, focussed blend with layers and layers of deep red fruit. Consistently ranked by NWC Top 100 Double Gold and again now. This calls for celebration!”

Klein Constantia (2)

Hans Astrom, Managing Director / Partner. Metis 2016 and Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2017: "The unique terroir at Klein Constantia is incredible suitable for the focused mineral / granite style sauvignon blancs. The investments and hard work from the team are really starting to show in these wines and vintages , so hopefully we will be seeing many more Top 100 results in the years to come."

La Motte (1)

La Motte Cellarmaster Edmund Terblanche: “With a portfolio of quality wines, it is the viticulture and winemaking teams’ responsibility to keep La Motte wines true to the estate’s culture of excellence. We therefore value the recognition from an acclaimed platform and are very pleased by the exceptional performance of the collection as a whole.”

Leipzig (1)

Dr Francois Smit & Lida Smit, owners: “White Leipzig 2017, Our flagship white wine is a perfect fusion of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay & Viognier. It contains a lovely fruity bouquet with hints of citrus and apricots and a distinct creamy palate.A tribute to the blend that was made in the original Leipzig Cellar (South Africa) and enjoyed by the British Royal family on their visit to South Africa in 1948.”

Lords (1)

Alwyn Krull, Director:We are very proud of the Lords team for achieving so much. With every sip you take from these award winning wines you can taste their passion, hard work and discipline.”

Napier (1)

Leon Bester (Winemaker); Hanlie Schönborn (Assistant Winemaker): “The double gold for our Lion Creek Chenin Blanc Sauvignon Blanc 2017 as well as 4 double silver awards for our wines again just confirms the consistency of Napier wines. We are extremely proud of these accolades, rewarding us for all the passion, hard work and dedication of our team.”

Oak Valley (1)

Brad Gold Marketing Manager: “Attention to vineyard detail and gentle cellar handling, is what shapes the Oak Valley style.”

Orange River Cellars (2)

Rianco van Rooyen, senior wine maker: “With these medals we have shown that we produce high quality wines across a wide range of styles. Personally satisfying are the awards garnered by our flagship red blend Lyra Vega and very likeable Colombard. These winning wines have become ever more popular in our range and sell out fast!”

Ormonde (6)

Theo Basson, Proprietor: “The cool climate conditions and dryland vineyards of Ormonde Estate often challenges us as viticulturists but never seize to reward us richly in producing wines of distinction.”

Paul Cluver (3)

Andries Burger, Cellar Master: "The experience of Twenty Two Vintages gives great insight into terroir, making it both easier and more difficult. Easier due to understanding, more challenging to perform consistently better every year."

Paul Wallace Wines (3)

Paul Wallace, owner/viticulturist: “I am thrilled that all three of the wines entered into the NWC/Top 100 Wines have been awarded Double Gold status. It is an endorsement of what we have always believed. Our steep vineyards can deliver on our dreams.”

Raats (2)

Bruwer Raats, Raats Cab Franc 2015 "As Raats Family Wines we specialize in Cabernet Franc and winning this category consistently is in line with our vision to constantly produce World class Cabernet Franc. Original Chenin Blanc 2017 – This underlines the consistency in quality by specialising in only two varieties.”

Raka (1)

Josef Dreyer, Winemaker: “We are constantly doing our best to make wine of good quality. We do not work for awards or accolades, but if a double gold award comes our way it is a joyous occasion and a pat on the back of our winemaking team and that of the toilers of the vines - something to inspire us to do even better.”

Rhebekskloof (1)

Senior Winemaker, Rolanie Lotz, Sandstone Grove Chardonnay 2016: “A limited production of only 1 300 bottles. Hand selected grapes from our farm, aged to perfection in a combination of new and second fill French oak barrels. From its gold colour to the peach, orange-peel and freshly baked scones character, this wine is designed to please. Matured in French oak barrels, yet harmoniously integrated, it is full-bodied, with enough complexity and lingering freshness Our Flagship white wine is doing us proud.”

Rickety Bridge (3)

Wynand Grobler, Winemaker : “We are very proud as a team to receive three double gold medals. Our philosophy of classical elegance and consistency has truly shone through.”

Rosendal Winery (1)

Therese de Beer, Winemaker "A Double Gold Award just proves again that our clients know best. Rosendal Merlot has consistently been our bestseller over the years."

Rustenberg (1)

Murray Barlow, Cellarmaster: “It is always a privilege for our wines to be recognised and these accolades for our regional range are reassuring of the quality and enjoyability of the wines.”

Shannon (3)

James Downes, Owner/Viticulturist: “It’s one thing been awarded double gold for one of your wines but when your entire portfolio is awarded nothing less than double gold for everything, then you know that there is focus in every aspect of what the team does. This is serious kudos to the quality of grapes coming from the vineyards and the brilliance of the winemakers Gordon and Nadia in charge for nurturing the juice into bottle.”

Simonsig (7)

Johan Malan, Cellarmaster: “A great result to have over the entire spectrum of our wines. White, red and sparkling wines. I am immensely proud of the Simonsig team who show hard word pays off.”

Spier (4)

Frans Smit – Spier Cellar Master:From the onset we strive to make the best wine we can for any given vintage and to see these wines awarded at this early stage boosts our aspirations even more. It proofs that we are able to create and maintain quality wines over a wide price range.”

Stellenbosch Hills (1)

James Ochse, Winemaker, 1707 Reserve Red 2015: “We’ve always known Stellenbosch Hills’ capability for something special. What excites me is that we are still not at the peak; great things lie ahead. It’s also good to see that our unwavering quest for varietal excellence is paying off.”

Stellenbosch Vineyards (3)

Eduan Steynberg: “It’s great to see that our leaps of faith and the chances we took in creating these wines has been acknowledged and gives indication that we’re are moving in the right direction to becoming South Africa’s most admired wine business.”

Ultra Liquors (4)

Mark Norrish - Ultra Liquors Wine GM, (and very proud Father of the Secret Cellar and Top Secret brands): “These 10 awards, plus the 3 Double Platinums, prove inconclusively that our own wine brands are all of the highest quality, and yet retail in our Stores at low, low prices. 12 of the 13 awarded wines retail under R50.00 per bottle! This firmly solidifies our Ultra value slogan, namely, “ BIG on palate, small on POCKET.”

Vrede en Lust (2)

Karlin Nel Cellar master: “Receiving a double gold accolade for both of our flagships blends Vrede en Lust Boet Erasmus 2014 and Vrede en Lust Barrique 2016 is such an honour that makes all of us at Vrede en Lust feel so proud! Our red Bordeaux is from our eastern slopes of Simonsberg Mountain. This area is specifically well suited for Cabernet and Merlot. Our white Bordeaux blend is from our Elgin property. When Blending Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc one discover hidden gems! The synergy between these two cultivars are undoubtably magnificent and a firm favourite to work with in the cellar. We are so thrilled with the results the National Wine Challenge with a further three Double Silver awards. To a great and wonderful team … Cheers!”

Vriesenhof (2)

Nicky Claasens winemaker: “Overjoyed to be reaping the rewards of the change in direction at Vriesenhof. A change in style and a bit of patience has paid off beautifully.”

Welgegund (1)

Friedrich Kühne, Winemaker: “Our team appreciates the fact that we have amazing vines, and in spite of lower yields we receive higher concentration, presenting us with the challenge of even greater wines – so as to make gold from what you have in a way – but this award confirms that we’ve achieved that, and that makes us proud.”

Wildekrans

Braam Gericke, Viticulturist & Winemaker: “It is always amazing when hard work gets appreciated. Something you can share with the rest of the team. We on Wildekrans worked together with the same goal in mind. Achieving awards is like eating the best part of your favourite piece of cake. We are a group of people who respect, love and look out for one another and that is the secret, or call it special ingredient to our Terroir and Farm.

Zorgvliet (2)

Bernard le Roux winemaker:At Zorgvliet we strive to create great wines that show character and consistency of value throughout our range. This year we entered six wines and all six received medals. A great showcase of reliability.”

“The National Wine Challenge judging is certainly demanding, given that judges taste over 100 wines per day. However the quality of the judges and the smooth-running of the logistics behind the scenes makes each yearly event an enjoyable one. Most importantly, the absolute focus on objective judging remains the critical ingredient. The local and international experience of the two teams and their willingness to enter into robust debate where necessary, is a great strength of this competition. By way of an example, faced with a line-up of Sauvignon Blancs, we discussed the merits of different styles in an attempt to keep our own stylistic preferences out of the way and in so doing, I believe, we reached a fair and satisfying set of results. Amongst the highlights was the Cabernet Sauvignon category – good fruit expression with very little green character or over-extraction. We were also taken with the Cape Red Blends and the Other Red Blends (or better understood as non-Bordeaux blends). These wines showed the strength of blending and the wonderful role that Pinotage can play in a blend. And don’t disregard the unusual varietal whites – there was pleasurable drinking and some rising stars amongst them. Altogether a stellar performance from a diverse, exciting and very well made collection of great SA wines!


Ginette de Fleuriot CWM.
Panel Chair

 


Tel: +27.218813078   Fax: +27.866478500   Email: braats@mweb.co.za  
P.O. Box 2068, Stellenbosch, 7601, South Africa
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