For the second time, Spier Wines has won the coveted Duimpie Bayly Veritas Vertex Award with its 2018 Creative Block 5 blend.
In a South African wine market featuring thousands of different wines and a myriad of competitions, the Veritas Vertex Award is one of the country’s most prestigious accolades, won for the second time by Spier Wines, with its 2018 Creative Block 5 blend.
“This wine strikes the balance between drinkability and age-worthiness, arguably one of the toughest achievements in winemaking,” says Spier cellarmaster Johan Jordaan.
The award now honours the late Duimpie Bayly — a legendary industry figure — and it boldly names one overall winner in the country’s longest-running and most prestigious wine competition, the Veritas Awards.
The significance of Spier taking this award cannot be overstated. The fact that Spier also won this pinnacle trophy in 2017, with the Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2015 is testament to its prowess as a wine producer.
This year’s star of the show, from among almost 1 300 entries, was the 2018 Spier Creative Block 5 blend – clinching the hand-crafted glass trophy which was handed over to Johan during the awards luncheon at the Val de Vie Estate Polo Club, Paarl.
The 2018 Spier Creative Block 5 is a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (47%), Merlot (31%), Cabernet Franc (10%), Petit Verdot (9%) and Malbec (3%), and is one of four Spier wines winning a coveted double gold medal, before being named the top wine.
Spier’s Creative Block range is this farm’s take on traditional Rhône-, Bordeaux- and Cape-style blends – where the winemakers carefully select grapes from different vineyard blocks, combining and blending taste profiles to create wines that are much greater than the sum of their parts.
The range takes its name from a Spier Arts Academy project that combines artworks from various artists and rearranges them in so-called “blocks” to produce something new. This embodies the principle of creatively blending different varietals from select vineyard blocks that results in intriguing wine blends.
It comprises four ‘block-numbered’ wines, respectively the 2 (Bordeaux type white) and blended reds 3 (Rhône), 5 (Bordeaux) and 8 (Cape). The latter, of course, features Pinotage in the composition that may vary from vintage to vintage.
In addition to winning five gold medals, Spier’s other double gold achievements included the Frans K Smit White 2018, 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2020 and 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2015.
This all in the spirit of the family-owned farm’s tradition of combining creativity and craft – both old and new – where the farm’s beautiful Cape Dutch buildings have been meticulously restored. The farm houses artworks from the Spier Art Collection – one of the largest collections of contemporary work in the country. Spier is one of the Cape’s oldest wine farms, with a recorded winemaking history dating back to 1692.
The grapes that make up Spier’s Creative Block 5 range from cooler pockets in the Cape coastal region, at Groenekloof (Darling) and Stellenbosch, with ideal soils, situated only between 7 and 20 km from the cold Atlantic Ocean.
Jordaan explains his sophisticated preparation of this wine, where the coolest slopes were chosen for slow ripening and ultimate flavour. The hand-harvested grapes were pre-cooled, destemmed and individually sorted and fermented in stainless-steel tanks for up to 21 days. Malolactic fermentation and maturation took place in 300-litre French oak barrels for 18 months.
“The components were individually crafted for each varietal to reach its highest potential. Selective tasting determined the composition and expert blending ensured harmony and the ultimate balance of fruit, palate volume, oak extract and tannins – all without losing any varietal characteristics,” comments Bennie Howard, vice-chairman of the Veritas Awards.
“Full-bodied, deep ruby red. Blackberry, cherry and blackcurrant is supported by cedar, dark chocolate and hints of fennel. Great balance and dense tannins.” What’s more, as if this is not already the ultimate, “The taste will be enhanced by ageing,” Johan says.
He adds: “Winning a best of show award like this is just a fantastic acknowledgment to the effort and tireless pursuit of our winemaking and vinicultural team to make a wine that we can be proud of and that our wine friends can enjoy.”
He has been invited to attend a tasting in London in April 2022 of this year’s Veritas double gold winners, organised by international Veritas judge and BBC TV presenter Joe Wadsack, in the company of the past two Veritas Vertex winners’ winemakers in 2019 and 2020.
They are Megan Parnell from Domaine des Dieux and Izelé van Blerk from KWV – whose respective planned visits to present their world-class wine tastings at this event could not take place due to travel restrictions.
They will – should the travel restrictions permit – also be doing an educational tour to France. These intended annual visits are made possible by a partnership between Veritas and Vinventions, a global leader in complete wine closure solutions, since 2019.
Meanwhile, true to the spirit of Veritas, a worthwhile volume of this year’s Vertex star is available for purchasing from the farm and online via the VinoVeritas app.