In a year that has seen the accolades rolling in for Org de Rac Estate, this Swartland producer’s latest triumph is winning the Trophy for Best Organic Wine at this year’s Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards. The Trophy-winning wine was Org de Rac’s Roussanne 2019, one of the estate-grown and made wines from the wine farm situated on the slopes of the Piketberg Mountain some 125km north of Cape Town.
Michelangelo is one of South Africa’s leading drinks competitions and this year attracted 1 565 entries. The usual feature of this competition, namely the international judging panels, had to fall away due to Covid-19 restrictions on inter-continental travel. Instead, the entries were adjudicated by panels comprising local drinks experts, including a large component of Cape Wine Masters.
Frank Meaker, cellarmaster of Org de Rac, sees the Michelangelo Trophy for Best Organic Wine in South Africa as the culmination of a fine year for the winery in which it garnered various accolades from local as well as international wine critics. “Org de Rac has always been a firm supporter of the Michelangelo Awards due to the competition’s diverse judging panels and its status as a truly independent wine show outside the formal confines of the local wine industry,” says Meaker.
“In a year in which Org de Rac shone at other shows with our red wines, especially Cabernet Sauvignon and the Bordeaux red blend, it was refreshing to see our zippy white single-variety Roussanne take top honours. Obviously, I can’t say what the judges saw in the wine, but this Mediterranean variety is known for purity as well as complexity, while maintaining absolute, non-negotiable freshness. This is something Org de Rac’s unique terroir gives to the Roussanne vineyard growing on our farm.
The gravelly, iron-rich soils offer fruit structure and balanced chemistry, while breezes blowing off the Atlantic Ocean some 50km to the West fans the plants throughout the hot summers. The wind also allows the place to cool-down overnight.”
Org de Rac has been farmed organically since it was founded by the late Nico Bacon in 2000. Meaker says organic is just the right way to farm as it makes better wine and is more sustainable for the environment. “From the outset, the decision was taken to keep this precious soil in as pristine and natural a state as possible through organic farming, which is actually just ‘real’ agriculture,” says Meaker. “The soils are sustainably managed with a rotation of different cover crops, vetches and organic mulching to stimulate microbial activity. When it comes to managing the vines, a strict pruning regimen and diligent suckering programmes are employed to control any occurrence of pests and
Meaker says that by presenting a trophy for Best Organic Wine, Michelangelo recognises the shape of things to come. “The market for organic wine is, like the demand for naturally farmed consumable products in general, growing at a rate of knots,” he says. “Sustainability is the planet’s number one concern, and all sectors of agriculture are coming under pressure to employ farming practices that do not harm the environment. Wine is no exception. But as an organic winery, it is for Org de Rac important to emphasise that organic farming also ensures grapes expressing purity and precise fruit profiles which add to the quality of the wine. As recognised by this Michelangelo Trophy.”