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A white wine blend triumphs as SA’s best young 2021 wine

A white wine blend triumphs as SA’s best young 2021 wine
A wooded white wine blend of Chardonnay and Colombar from Badsberg in the Breedekloof near Worcester has won the prestigious General Smuts Trophy as overall SA Champion Young Wine for 2021, after also being awarded the trophy for the best South African white wine blend at the SA Young Wine Show.

It was the fourth time that Badsberg walks away with the formidable General Smuts Trophy as the overall winner, having also achieved this with a wooded Ruby Cabernet, in 2020, with a wooded Pinotage in 2016 and a Natural Sweet Wine in 2009. Badsberg thereby joins four other producers to win the General Smuts Trophy in successive years since the inception of this icon Trophy in 1952.

DF Malan won the General Smuts Trophy in 1956 and 1957, Nederburg won it four times in a row from 1967 to 1970, Faure and Faure also won four years in a row from 1971 to 1974 and Klein Constantia won it twice in 1988 and 1989.

This annual show for wines of the current vintage year is presented by the SA National Wine Show Association (SANWSA) in collaboration with Agri-Expo. It is the first time in the competition’s 189-year existence, the oldest of its kind in the world, that a white wine blend clinches the top award, this year as the 70th winner of the General Smuts Trophy.

The competition’s 19 SA Champion trophies in total – including the Pietman Hugo Trophy for the best points achieved with five entries – were announced today (30 August) at a function with a limited number of guests in the Johann Graue Hall at Nederburg. The customary gala dinner for the hand-over of trophies, was not held this year as a result of the Covid-19 realities. Altogether 45 wines achieved Class Winner status and 73 received Gold Medals.

The Pietman Hugo Trophy, which is awarded to the winery scoring the highest total points for its best five wines, was clinched by Spier Wines of Stellenbosch.

The total entries were up substantially from last year, which showed a decrease due to the Covid-19 limitations. The judges were unanimous that the quality standard of the young wines of 2021 was outstanding, thanks to a much later and cooler vintage.

The almost 50 judges on 13 panels scrutinised the 1 162 entries subject to the most stringent Covid-19 protocols, which comply with world standards, at Nederburg in Paarl at the end of July. The safety measures included daily sterilisation of the premises, bottles, equipment and glasses by a process of UV- and Ozone treatment with equipment supplied by Tharo Wines.

A special bottle sticker was introduced in 2013 to feature on the winner of the General Smuts Trophy’s bottles to showcase the overall best young wine of each year in the market place. This has led to more and more trophy winners in recent years being bottled as such instead of ‘losing their identity’ by further blending.

In terms of overall results, Perdeberg Cellar in Paarl also excelled – in addition to Badsberg’s top achievement – with two national winners with the following wines:

  • Perdeberg Chenin Blanc Natural Sweet White Wine (wooded – Residual Sugar >20g/l), and
  • Perdeberg Malbec (Other Red Wine Cultivar)

The rest of the SA Champion wines are:

  • Chardonnay – Nuy Wine Cellar, Chardonnay (wooded)
  • Chenin Blanc – Spier Wines, Chenin Blanc (wooded)
  • Sauvignon Blanc – Cilmor, Sauvignon Blanc (wooded)
  • Sémillon – La Motte Sémillon
  • Other White Cultivar – Ashton Winery Colombar (wooded)
  • Noble Late Harvest Wine – Bon Courage Estate, Noble Late Harvest
  • Cabernet Sauvignon – Bonnievale Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon (wooded)
  • Merlot – Pulpit Rock Merlot (wooded)
  • Pinotage – Wellington Wines Pinotage (wooded)
  • Red Blend – KWV Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon/Petite Sirah/Petit Verdot/Cabernet Franc (wooded)
  • Shiraz – Kleine Zalze Wines Shiraz (wooded)
  • Dessert Wine – Excelsior Vlakteplaas, Red Jerepiko
  • Muscadel – Montagu Wine Cellar Red Muscadel Jerepiko
  • Cape Style – De Krans Wines, Any Other Cape Style – Touriga Nacional

Paarl stood out as best performing district with five National Trophies, followed by Breedekloof/Worcester, Klein Karoo and Robertson three Trophies each, Stellenbosch two, and Swartland one trophy.

The chairperson of the Young Wine Show, Christo Pienaar, said that the quality of the young wines judged had overall been of a very good standard and consumers can look forward to many excellent wines from the 2021 vintage year. “I am excited with the results of the winners of the SA Champion wines from all over the country’s wine producing areas, as well as the diverse types of wineries. I wish to thank all those who participated for their ongoing support.”

Overseas trip for top foursome

Meanwhile, the two respective winners of the General Smuts and Pietman Hugo Trophies can look forward to a six-day sponsored trip to Germany. This is thanks to a partnership announced in 2019 between the SANWSA and Porex, a prominent Paarl-based supplier of machinery and oenological equipment to the wine industry. Thereby a representative each from Badsberg and Spier will be on their way this year – international travel regulations allow – in the company of last year’s winners, the cellarmasters of Flagstone and Badsberg, who could not do this trip. The foursome will visit a well-known fermentation company and filtration plant, as well as several wine cellars and a technical show.

Judges’ feedback 2021

The 2021 wine crop was substantially later, but larger, following a cool, wet season, which presented challenges for good extraction, especially for late cultivars – however with numerous excellent wines and the promise of lighter, more delicate styles and elegant development.

The white wines, especially dry blends with skillful cultivar composition, were impressive. Wooded blends showed good interaction, while more barrel-fermented wines were entered. Colombar presented difficulties but performed well in blends.

Wooded wines in the class Other White Cultivars were well-balanced, with particularly good wood treatment. The flavours varied from tropical to attractive greenness.

Chenin Blanc – once again, the average quality was high and only a few wines did not achieve medals. Most entries showed pure fruit on the nose, while a handful did not display cultivar character.

Sauvignon Blanc – mostly more full-bodied and leaning towards the tropical spectrum, although there were many good examples of riper and greener flavours. However, a few had too high acid levels.

Chardonnay – despite initial reservations, this vintage turned out very favourably for Chardonnay, which had fewer entries than before. The unwooded Chardonnay was of top quality with clean fruit, good balance and fresh acidity. The wooded class displayed quite diverse styles. In those which stood out, the wood and fruit complemented each other well.

Red Blends – the year is characterised by strong diversity, with high quality of both the unwooded and wooded blends.

Merlot – more full-bodied wines with soft tannins and minimal greenness yielded a number of individualistic, above-average standard wines. Extraordinary fruit and a good finish in both the unwooded and wooded wines. The top ones were really outstanding.

Cabernet Sauvignon – in general the entries displayed good concentration and cultivar character. A lighter tannin-structure with prominent red fruit characterises this vintage.

Pinotage – generally showed up well, with pure fruit and good balance. The unwooded class featured delightful red and black berry-fruit, as well as plummy-fruit on the nose, with good length in taste. Attaining complexity remains a problem here. In the wooded class, however, good berry fruit dominated in combination with high complexity, with the exception of some cases where wood dominated.

Shiraz – several wines were more subdued than expected and indicate slower development with elegant evolution. Dark colouring was noticeable and could be revealing phenolic ripeness as a result of the longer hang-time in this cool year – where harvest-timing was critical to achieve the ideal balance and high potential.

Among Other Red Cultivars, Pinot Noir excelled, showing good body, colour and concentration for a normally quite shy cultivar. This reveals meaningful progress in terms of elegance, fruit and harmony – together with the skilful wood treatment required.

Tempranillo – a cultivar delivering high tannins and which shows it, but with consistency and clearly careful handling in the cellar, numerous entries were of above average quality.

Petite Sirah – for the second successive year the strongest variety in the Scarce Red Class. Deep dark, intense wines with good balance of both sweet fruit and spicy flavours. Full-bodied, with the mid-palate flowing into lingering soft, subtle tannins. High extract also enabled good wood treatment.

Among the more scarce red cultivars, lighter wines with lower extract took its toll with Cinsaut, Cabernet Franc, Touriga Nacional, Grenache, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Ruby Cabernet – generally less exciting wines, especially with wood contact; not yielding great wines.

Port Style and Late Harvest – it’s quite a while since the quality in these categories impressed like this year. The Port styles displayed a depth of flavours and colours with fruit-ripeness, intense extractions and good tannin-structures. At the same time, both the Special and Noble Late Harvest wines displayed good balance of acidity and sugar.

Dessert Wine – the year’s low sugars and rain with challenging ripening conditions clearly took its toll here. There were, however, lighter style wines with favourable fruit that did stand out.

The SA Young Wine Show dates back to 1833 when the first such competition was held by the Cape of Good Hope Agricultural Society (today Agri-Expo) in the Company’s Garden in Cape Town. The Cape of Good Hope Agricultural Society – which in 1996 established the marketing name Agri-Expo – has been actively involved with the Young Wine Show since its inception as owner of this remarkable Show and has continued its commitment also as custodian to this day. In the process, Agri-Expo has entrusted the SA National Wine Show Association (SANWSA) as organiser with the most impressive array of gold and silver trophies, which are awarded each year to the winning winemakers.

For further information please contact the SA Young Wine Show
tel 021 863 1599 or email info@veritas.co.za
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Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/SouthAfricanYoungWineShow
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SAYoungWine
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