Four new Cape Wine Masters (CWM) have graduated from the Cape Wine Academy (CWA) during lockdown. This was announced at the virtual AGM of the Institute of Cape Wine Masters (ICWM) on Saturday, 30 May.
This brings the number of CWMs to attain this elite self-study qualification in the 41-year history of the CWA to 106.
They are Karen Bloom, a wine lover from Durban, Wanda Cronje of Fun with Food from Durbanville, Boela Gerber, winemaker of Groot Constantia, and Lisha Nelson, CEO of Nelson Wine Estate, Paarl. All except Lisha Nelson are also part-time lecturers for CWA.
According to ICWM chairperson De Bruyn Steenkamp, more than 200 000 wine enthusiasts have attended the lectures and training programmes of this wine education and industry service (CWA) which was instituted as part of the Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery (SFW) Wine plan in 1979.
The four dissertations cover a wide range of topics. In summary: the rise of Prosecco as an affordable and viable MCC and sparkling wine contender in South Africa; the use of ovoid (egg-shaped) and alternative wine vessels in winemaking; exploiting the qualities of the wine yeast Brettanomyces naturally present in wine for improved cellar management practices; and looking into which constituents in wine pose a risk to health and how winemakers could produce healthier wines.
Diplomas will be handed to the new CWMs at a formal awards luncheon to be held at a later date in the year.
A new exco of the Institute was elected at the AGM. Jacques Steyn, GM at Jordan Wines takes over as chairman from De Bruyn Steenkamp, while the new secretary is Conrad Louw, with Harry Melck as vice-chairman and Tom Blok as treasurer. The Southern representative is Danielle le Roux and the Northern representative is Kristina Beuthner.
In 2003, the Cape Wine and Spirit Education Trust granted the Cape Wine Academy the right to award the Cape Wine Master (CWM) qualification and confer the Cape Wine Master’s title, in collaboration with the Institute of Cape Wine Masters.
Karen Bloom’s dissertation is titled ‘’The Rise of Prosecco: Can South African MCC and Sparkling Wine Producers Compete?’’ Bloom looked into how Prosecco had ousted Champagne worldwide as a best-selling sparkling wine contender since 2013, with particular reference to the world’s principal sparkling wine production methods, the legislation governing its production, its three main competitors, and the growing of Glera grapes for Prosecco production in Italy and other countries. She researched the key factors driving Prosecco’s largest market, the United Kingdom and the branding and marketing strategies in its top three export markets – the UK, USA and Germany. An overview of the sparkling wine market in South Africa, South African MCC and sparkling wine production as well as the Prosecco distribution and retail supply chain in South Africa also formed part of her research.
Wanda Cronje’s dissertation is titled ‘’Ovoid and Alternative Wine Vessels in South Africa’’.Wine history, in both text and imagery, often tells of wines in egg-shaped (or ovoid) vessels. Modern-day innovations have re-invented the spherical shape but enhanced it with stainless steel manways and airtight lids. Materials such as engineered concrete and food-grade plastic are the new trends, yet there is a strong movement towards using traditional vessels, such as amphorae (with handles) made from terracotta and qvevri vessels made from clay but without handles and which are buried underground.The dissertation was an investigation into which alternative wine vessels besides traditional stainless steel and wooden barrels are currently available, and the results winemakers are achieving with them in South Africa, backed up by proven scientific principles. The study showed through interviews with local and international winemakers that a growing number of them are experimenting with alternative wine vessels, striving to create wines that show the true character of the grape, more than the flavour influence of the specific vessels used.
Boela Gerber’s dissertation is titled ‘’Understanding Brettanomyces for Improved Management in the Cellar.” The purpose of this study was to clear up taxonomic confusion, to gain a better understanding of the genetic diversity and the adaptability of the naturally occurring yeast Brettanomyces, because it poses the most important microbiological threat to the quality of red wine throughout the winemaking process.The review gives a broad overview of Brettanomyces, from origin and genetics to nutrient requirements and metabolites produced. This will give a better understanding of this complex yeast and how to manage it efficiently in the cellar. As a winemaker, the management of Brettanomyces is a balancing act in the cellar. Winemakers should focus on understanding the risk of Brettanomyces infection and best management practices, rather than adjusting wine style to avoid infection. Brettanomyces has low carbon and nitrogen requirements which allows it to grow under extreme conditions and it can affect wine in various ways. Understanding the influence of other microorganisms and their impact on Brettanomyces spoilage characters is vital for its effective control. While sulphur dioxide has traditionally been used to manage Brettanomyces in the cellar and it remains an important tool, the study reviewed other products and techniques and new technologies. An integrated approach for preventing Brettanomyces growth and spoilage in wine was recommended. Cellar hygiene, especially barrel hygiene, is therefore of prime importance, as all cellars are at risk of Brettanomyces infection.
Lisha Nelson’s dissertation is titled “Wine and Health’’. This review of the health benefits and risks associated with moderate wine consumption had as its primary objective to identify the substances in wine that can either have a positive or a negative impact on health, and the origins and factors that influence their occurrence. A secondary objective was to determine whether it is possible for winemakers to produce healthier wines. Research suggests that the main components in wine that may contribute to health are alcohol, various phenolic compounds and melatonin. There is no consensus on how wine consumption could protect one against diseases or ailments and further research is needed. The main health risk associated with wine consumption is excessive alcohol intake. Other concerns are posed by excessive exposure to toxic compounds (such as sulphur dioxide, heavy metals, biogenic amines, ethyl carbamate, ochratoxin A, phthalates and pesticide residues) which can be controlled during the winemaking process. Recently allergens have received attention, with mandatory labelling requirements being implemented in certain countries. A survey was done to gauge consumer awareness of health benefits and risks associated with wine consumption. Consumers appear to be aware of the fact that wine consumption benefits health. Detailed knowledge of the positive and negative constituents in wine is, however, lacking. A winemaker’s survey was also sent to producers to determine what they understood regarding wine and health. Most agreed that winemaking techniques and viticulture practices play an important role in promoting the health profile of wine.