Niche Wine Challenge announces 2022 winners

by | Jun 17, 2022 | Article, Wineland

Niche Wine Challenge announced its 2022 winners. Niel Joubert Reserve Grenache Blanc 2019, the overall winner scored an impressive 95-points. This new wine competition was launched in Cape Town on 1 June by Events by Celia.

Encompassing white and red unusual varieties, the Niche Wine Challenge was judged by Cape Wine Master and panel chair, Christine Rudman, Twelve Apostles sommelier Greg Mutambe and Janine van Zyl, a Michael Fridjhon judging Academy graduate and Cape Wine Master student.

The international 100-point system was used, under auditor supervision, with golds awarded to niche wines scoring 90 points or more. All niche wines were tasted blind, except for varietal identification. There were 15 different varieties entered, across the winelands, which on analysis showcased how different terroirs influenced the styles.

The panel applauded the overall quality of the wines, which had good varietal expression and balanced oaking; it was clear that trouble had been taken to allow the wine’s fruit and character to shine through, without undue cellar manipulation. Five wines achieved gold, while 18 were awarded silver.



Niche Challenge: Niel Joubert Cellar.

Niche Wine Challenge winner

By panel consensus, the clear winner was Niel Joubert Reserve Grenache Blanc 2019 from Paarl, which scored an impressive 95 points. The panel rewarded its purity, intensity and focus, and its overall balance. A splendid example of what this variety can achieve with the right vineyard and cellar care.

Erni Leicht, cellarmaster /winemaker at Niel Joubert since October 2000 received a pair of Veldskoene from Veldskoen, the shoe sponsors of our Olympic Team to Japan and the Siya Kolisi Foundation.

All challenges organised and run by Events by Celia are done so adhering to the internationally accepted standards and are audited by Cecil Kilpin & Co. while keeping the cost to the competing wineries as low as possible without stock requirement.

Winning Niche Wine

  • Niel Joubert Reserve Grenache Blanc 2019

Gold Medallists (in alphabetical order)

  • Anura Reserve Petit Verdot 2017
  • Mitre’s Edge Cinsaut 2021
  • Niel Joubert Reserve Tempranillo 2020
  • Piekenierskloof Grenache Noir 2020


WATCH: Niel Joubert


ALSO READ: Red Blend Challenge announces 2022 winners

The judging of the Red Blend Challenge took place on 16 March 2022 in Cape Town. Three experienced tasters, Cape Wine Masters Christine Rudman (as chair) and Ginette de Floriot, and Honorary Cape Wine Master Colin Frith judged various wines.

There were 43 entries across various styles: Bordeaux (any combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot); Rhône (any combination of Shiraz, Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Cinsault, Viognier); Cape (30%+ Pinotage with other red varieties); and others, not fitting any of the aforementioned styles. This and Bordeaux were the largest categories.

Judging was according to the international 100-point system, and all wines were evaluated blind in the presence of an auditor. There were 16 golds awarded, 90 points and above, accounting for 37% of the entries, with 9 of these from the Stellenbosch/Simonsberg areas.

The balance of the entries was Silver, scoring 80 to 89 points, with no Bronze awarded, reflecting the general quality of the wines submitted. Vintages stretched from 2014 to 2020, with the majority from 2019 and 2020.

The highest rated wines were the Bordeaux blends, a tried and trusted combination of varieties, capable of noteworthy quality in the right hands. The winners were both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot-led, comprising at least three varieties, and in some cases all five.

Of the five Rhône blends entered, three earned gold, with Grenache playing a dominant role in two of them. Other Blends were diverse and creative, using Portuguese and Italian varieties as well as local like Pinotage and lesser-known French such as Durif and Tannat, in combination with Bordeaux and Rhône varieties.

However, the panel felt that although the majority were delicious, they were created for earlier drinking, rather than for ageing. Throughout all entries, there was good tannin balance, with no harsh wines, and most had good fruit expression, coupled with attractive oak spicing.

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