The quality of wines from the Swartland and Darling regions was on full display when the results of this year’s regional Young Wine Show were released on August 18 in the lead-up to national results later this month.
Local wineries that claimed trophies were;
- Pulpit Rock Wines won the Malmesbury Toyota Champion Dry White Blend trophy (Sauvignon Blanc/Chenin Blanc/ Nouvelle), Enartis Other White Cultivar trophy (Nouvelle), Nexus Dry Red Blend trophy (Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot/ Shiraz), Kobus Basson Pinotage Trophy, Porex SA Merlot Trophy (Merlot – wooded), Séan Nieuwoudt Cinsault trophy and the ABSA Grand Champion trophy(Merlot – wooded);
- Darling Cellars, was awarded the CJP Chemicals Champion Chenin Blanc trophy, Vinventions Sauvignon Blanc trophy, Enartis Other White Cultivar trophy (Sémillon), Kaap Agri Natural Sweet trophy (Sauvignon Blanc/ Grenache Noir), Kotzé Steyn Shiraz trophy , Wine Machinery Cabernet Sauvignon trophy, and the Vinochem trophy for the Best Five Entries;
- Allesverloren received the SAIL Champion Fortified Wine trophy; and,
- Babylon’s Peak won the Santam Agriculture Champion Other Red Cultivars trophy (Carignan – wooded)
The SA Young Wine Show – one of the world’s oldest wine competitions, dating back to 1833 – gives winemakers the opportunity to measure their young wines, experimental styles and new cultivars against their peers. It also allows them to evaluate the quality of the current vintage year’s young wines long before they’re prepared for market.
This year was the 19th year the Swartland has hosted its regional show since being assessed independently. Among the latest changes at the event include a greater focus on cultivar excellence.
‘We’re on the right path’ – Pulpit Rock Wines
“We deliberately enter these competitions not only to make the connection with our bottled range but also to test certain styles with an independent tasting panel,” says Pulpit Rock winemaker Dewald Huisamen. “It would be ideal to be able to follow a young wine to market-readiness. It is essential to us that none of our cultivar wines in the Brink Family Vineyards range might be shown to be out of sync with the rest. In this way, we can ensure good value and sustainable growth.”
Dewald says it would always be first prize for the winery to get recognition for its five cultivar red wines. “This allows us to trace the evolution of wines from a performance at the Young Wine Show to their market-readiness, and performance in later challenges. Examples include our Pinotage that does well at the ABSA Top10, Cabernet Sauvignon starring at Veritas and even Cinsault at Michelangelo – even in the same year, it’s bottled. The good performance of the Louisa blend at the ABSA Cape Blend competitions reveals the standard of its building blocks. Merlot remains a challenge for us, but the results of new clones and alternative sites have shown that we’re on the right path.”
He highlights the importance of the SA Young Wine Show in its encouragement of healthy competition. “It also gives us the opportunity to taste young wines from the region and monitor trends. We see it as essential to the message that Swartland is about quality.”
Pulpit Rock was also awarded gold in the categories for Other White Cultivar Blend (Sauvignon Blanc/ Chenin Blanc/ Nouvelle); Sauvignon Blanc; Other Red Cultivar Blend (Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot/ Shiraz); Other Red Cultivar Blend (wooded) (Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot wooded); Merlot (wooded).
‘Capable of excellent diversity’ – Darling Cellars
For Darling Cellars, the award shows the diversity of the winery and the region. “Many areas and wineries focus on one or two cultivars. We attempt to show that the area is capable of producing more than one wine style and that it is recognised at competitions,” says Darling Cellars head winemaker Pieter-Neil Rossouw.
It was especially significant for Darling Cellars’ white wine maker Reon Richter that the winery excelled in Sauvignon Blanc. “Darling is known for the variety and Sauvignon Blanc is one of the biggest white wine cultivars in South Africa. It is a hotly contested competition and there are very good Sauvignon Blanc wines.”
For red wine maker Maggie Immelman, the sweetest victory was the Shiraz Trophy. “Shiraz does very well here thanks to the climate. The region produces two definitive styles of the wine. In cooler aspects, wines emerge that are spicier with softer tannins. Warmer areas produce wines that are generally driven by red and black fruit character.”
Pieter-Niel’s prized award was the Chenin Blanc Trophy. “The cultivar is capable of so many different styles. Darling also has many old bushvine vineyards. The berries are small and concentrated, and the fruit can be exuberant, while the wine remains elegant. It is a cultivar that’s really at home across the region.”
In addition to its trophies, Darling Cellars was also gold in the categories for Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz.
‘Striving to stay relevant’ – Allesverloren
Commenting on the quality of the fruit that produced its winning wine this year, Allesverloren winemaker Wilhelm de Vries says: “We were very privileged to get really beautiful fruit and extraction for the port-style wines this year. The port cultivars did well in getting to optimal ripeness. There were few raisins amongst the grapes that ensured a truer flavour profile.
“Allesverloren is very well known for its port-style wines. It is one of our top sellers and famous in many homes and restaurants across South Africa. We strive every year to improve on the previous year and to keep the wine relevant.”
‘There’s definitely a future’ – Babylon’s Peak
Babylon’s Peak owner winemaker Stephan Basson says the farm had good rains in 2020, which meant the growing season got underway with good soil moisture. “We also had above average rain in November, benefitting the dryland vines including the Carignan. Carignan ripens later in the season, so there was enough moisture in the soil to ensure good, long, and slow ripening. The day temperatures were also relatively low, and we were spared any big heat waves. It all contributed to a full and concentrated wine with intense notes of red and blackberry fruit and beautifully soft and ripe tannins.
“To me, Carignan does very well in the Swartland. This specific vineyard is very old and supplies fruit to Fairview for their Pegleg Carignan. At Babylon’s Peak I use it in the Shiraz/Carignan blend, which is one of our most popular red wines in the range. It is also well suited for blends with other Rhone varieties.” Stephan says the variety might not be one you’re likely to plant extensively, “but there’s definitely a future for the variety. “There will definitely be more plantings at Babylon’s Peak,” he says.
- • The national winners of the SA Young Wine Show will be announced on August 30. The General Smuts Trophy for the overall best young wine of 2021 will be announced. Also at stake is the Pietman Hugo Trophy for the cellar with the five best entries.