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. Sadly, there were only three Cape Blends submitted, not enough to do a general evaluation.
Medallists of red blend challenge in alphabetical order:
WINNER: Holden Manz Big G 2017
- Anura SMC Reserve 2020
- Anura Symphony 2019
- Boplaas Ring of Rocks 2018
- Druk My Niet T3 2014
- Ernie Els Signature 2016
- Groot Constantia Gouveneurs Reserve 2018
- Mimosa Reserve Natus MMX 2020
- Rhebokskloof Flat Rock Red 2019
- Rhebokskloof The Rhebok 2019
- The High Road Director’s Reserve 2017
- Vrede en Lust Ella 2019
- Warwick Professor Pitch Black 2018
- Warwick Three Cape Ladies 2017
- Waterford Antigo 2019
- Zorgvliet Sivermyn Argentum 2020
- Alvi’s Drift 221 Special Cuvee 2020
- Alvi’s Drift Albertus Viljoen Bismark 2020
- Alvi’s Drift Rondebosch Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2020
- Alv’s Drift Reserve Drift Fusion 2020
- Bellevue Atticus 2020
- Bellevue The Reserve Collection Tumara 2018
- Bergsig Icarus 2018
- Bob’s Your Uncle Head Over Heels Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot NV
- Capaia Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2018
- Capaia ONE 2018
- Casa Baleia Vinhos Rochas 2020
- Daschbosch The Gift 2020
- Druk my Niet Invictus 2014
- Ernie Els Big Easy Red Blend 2020
- Groote Post Salt of the Earth 2019
- Hillcrest Alatic Slopes Hornfels 2016
- Jason’s Creek Classic Red 2018
- Jason’s Hill Izak Reserve 2018
- Louisvale Boris 2019
- Mimosa Mysterium 2020
- Nitida Calligraphy 2018
- Paul Wallace Crackerjack 2019
- The Fledge & Co Red Blend 2017
- The Fledge & Co Veld Versnit Stellenbosch 2020
- The High Road Classique 2017
- Val Du Charro Erasmus Den Deen 2020
- Vrede en Lust Boet Erasmus 2017
The Red Blend Challenge is an initiative independently organised by Events by Celia. The aim is to shine the light on the Red Blends of South Africa. “Each blend is a work of art, where the winemaker is the artist.” The competition is run professionally and according to the international standards. The aim is to do this at the least expense to the wineries and there is no expectation of extra stock other than the two bottles delivered for the judging.