SA Winery of the Year, SA Winemaker of the Year… Spoilt for choice
WITH JUST weeks to go until the end of 2016, the spotlight shone on a few of the Cape’s top wineries and winemakers more brightly than usual. Shiraz/Chenin specialist Andrea Mullineux of Riebeek Kasteel in the Swartland, previously of California, was pronounced Winemaker of the Year by Wine Enthusiast magazine in the USA. Nederburg of Paarl won the IWSC trophy for South African Wine Producer of the Year at the International Wine & Spirit Competition awards banquet in the UK – primarily for the team’s Auction Reserve dessert wines Edelkeur and Eminence of various vintages as well as Nederburg’s 2013 Private Bin R163 Cabernet Sauvignon. And Pierre Wahl won the title of Diners Club Winemaker of the Year (SA) with Rijk’s Private Cellar Chenin Blanc Barrel Fermented 2014, WO Tulbagh. Earlier, Nederburg was named Winery of the Year in Platter’s SA Wine Guide, KWV of Paarl and Spier of Stellenbosch reaped more gold and double gold medals than any other wineries at South Africa’s Veritas Awards, while Delaire Graff of Stellenbosch was applauded as the most successful producer at the 2016 edition of South Africa’s Trophy Wine Show.
Mullineux was awarded for her outstanding reds, whites and sweets, but also for her collaborative, ‘revolutionary’ efforts with Adi Badenhorst, Eben Sadie, Callie Louw of Porseleinberg plus David and Nadia Sadie to elevate the reputation of the Swartland district with its wards of Riebeekberg and Malmesbury. Whereas Nederburg, KWV, Spier and Delaire stood out for how many accolades they had accumulated with the numerous wines in their portfolios.
Mullineux and her fellow Swartland ‘revolutionaries’ are among the darlings and rock stars of the Cape winelands. Others include Duncan Savage of the Cape Peninsula, Bruwer Raats and Tokara winemaker Miles Mossop of Stellenbosch, David Nieuwoudt of the Cederberg and Elim, Chris Alheit as well as Gordon and Nadia Newton Johnson of the Hemel-en-Aarde outside Hermanus, Richard Kershaw of Elgin and André van Rensburg of Vergelegen, Somerset West. Dewaldt Heyns of Saronsberg in Tulbagh is another of the country’s cellarmasters whose flag has been hoisted higher than most in 2016, although when it comes down to the daunting ask of choosing South Africa’s top winemaker or winery of the year, there are two more properties that have not been found wanting, no matter which way you weigh things up or do your measuring…
Kobus Basson’s Stellenbosch outfit Kleine Zalze, with the winemaking team headed by Alistair Rimmer and RJ Botha, ticked plenty of boxes: the Family Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2015 and 2016 received double gold at Veritas and 5 Stars in Platter’s respectively; the Family Reserve Chenin Blanc 2015 achieved a 5 Star Rating in Platter’s and got the nod in the Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge (SA), as did the 2015 Vineyard Selection; the Cellar Selection Unwooded Chardonnay 2015 won ‘grand gold’ at Concours Mondial (BE) and the 2015 Vineyard Selection was among the 10 best wines entered in Chardonnay du Monde (FR); the Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 was awarded an ‘outstanding gold’ at IWSC and then 5 Stars in Platter’s; with the non-vintage Brut Rosé Cap Classique sparkling wine among the winners at Rosé Rocks (SA).
Meanwhile, from the slopes of Stellenbosch Kloof, DeMorgenzon attracted very good reviews for their white blend, the 2015 Maestro White, their 2014 Reserve Syrah and the 2014 Maestro Red which won a trophy at the International Wine Challenge (UK). However it’s with their Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc Reserves that proprietor Wendy Appelbaum and winemaker Carl van der Merwe were particularly impressive: the 2015 Reserve Chenin earned a trophy at IWC, victory at the Chenin Blanc Challenge and then a trophy at IWSC; whereas the 2015 Reserve Chardonnay’s wave of success began with a trophy at the IWC, followed by another at the Decanter World Wine Awards in the UK, a score of 95/100 on Winemag.co.za and then 5 Stars in Platter’s.
Spoilt for choice, we are. Spoilt for choice!