This year marked the sixth anniversary of the Vitis Vinifera Awards, and in addition to the usual wine categories, the competition was extended to include wine-based spirits and wine-based drinks. The aim was to embrace all products that benefit from grape production.
From year to year this ever growing competition is dependent on specialised personnel to handle the wide-ranging logistics, and again everything worked like clockwork. With spring in the air, the double blind tasting took place over two days on the 6th and 7th of September – two intense days, indeed. The generosity and support showed by every sector of the industry underpins the importance of this competition that continues to grow from year to year.
Congratulations to the following seven producers who scored tops:
· Alvi’s Drift
· La Vierge Wines (Pty) Ltd
· Rooiberg Winery
· Niel Joubert Wines
· De Krans Wines
· Seven Oaks
Fort Simon’s Pinotage 2016 was awarded a Double Gold Medal. The categories that received the most entries were Sauvignon blanc, followed by Shiraz, Chenin blanc, Pinotage and Merlot. There were a lot more red wines entered overall, compared to white wines, and the categories that showed the biggest growth in entries were Pinotage and Blanc de Noir.
Among the whites, the 2018 Chenin blanc wines proved that this vintage was an exceptional year for this cultivar, showing great diversity and towering above their 2017 rivals. The unwooded Chardonnays showed excellent fruit and balance, while their wooded rivals showed the winemakers’ measured approach, and respect for the integration of wood. The Sauvignon blanc wines showed huge stylistic diversity, and the ability to cater for all palates.
The Bordeaux reds were one of the most impressive red categories while the Pinotage also surprised. The Pinotage showed varied styles and the versatility of the cultivar. Merlot also showed well as a category with the older entries really coming into their own now.
Overall the wines seemed to be very consistent, but also showing diversity in style where categories lend themselves to individual expression.
Gin is currently top-of-mind for consumers, thanks to media coverage and new and unusual gins. The increase in the number of super-premium gins entered was remarkable. The panel tasked with judging spirits enthused over some of the gins. These gins showed great diversity and, together with Grappa, was one the best categories tasted.
The wine judges were Marc Friederich, Ad Wegner, Ralph Reynolds, Wanda Cronjé, Kent Scheermeyer, Nadia Hefer, Johan Wegner, Rebecca Constable, Pearl Olivier-Mbumba, Erika van Zyl, Chrisna Gerber and Karen Freitag. The judges on the Spirits panel were Brink Liebenberg, Mare-Loe Prinsloo and Marlene Bester.
Overall the judges were very pleased with the spectrum of quality wines and spirits entered in this year’s competition. Details about the 2019 Vitis Vinifera Awards will be announced in the last week of January 2019.