SA YOUNG WINE CHAMPIONS OF 2022 ON THE SPOT THIS WEEKJuly 28, 2022
Best new wine writer in SA announcedDecember 8, 2022
A wooded Shiraz from Diemersdal Wine Estate in Durbanville has won the prestigious General Smuts Trophy as the overall SA Champion Young Wine of 2022, after also receiving the trophy for the best South African Shiraz (wooded) at the SA Young Wine Show. The General Smuts Trophy was last awarded to a Shiraz 18 years ago, in 2004. It is the second time that Diemersdal Wine Estate has won the General Smuts Trophy since their success in 2013 when they won the trophy with a Sauvignon Blanc.
This annual show for wines of the current vintage is presented by the SA National Wine Show Association (SANWSA) in collaboration with Agri-Expo. It is the fourth time in the existence of this 190-year-old competition – the oldest of its kind in the world – that a Shiraz clinches this award, this year as the 71st recipient of the General Smuts Trophy. Spier won this trophy in 2004 with Shiraz, Bon Courage in 2003 and Middelvlei Estate in 1997.
The competition’s 18 SA Champion trophies in total – including the Pietman Hugo Trophy for the highest total points achieved with five entries – were today (26 August) announced at a glamorous dinner presented by Agri-Expo in the Johann Graue Hall at Nederburg in Paarl. This was the first gala event for the trophy presentation since 2019, as a result of the suspension of functions through Covid-19 realities. Altogether 42 wines achieved Class Winner status and 86 won Gold Medals.
The Pietman Hugo Trophy was won by Badsberg Cellar in the Breedekloof near Worcester – an exceptional achievement for this winery which this year took the trophy for the eighth time.
The total entries were also more than last year, showing that there is again an increase in participation in the oldest wine show in South Africa after the Covid-19 restrictions. The judges were particularly impressed by the quality of the 2022 wines, thanks once again to a much later and cooler vintage year.
This year’s 1 218 entries were evaluated by 50 specialist judges on 14 panels. The judging took place at the end of July in the Johann Graue Hall at Nederburg in Paarl, over a period of five days after which the champions in 16 classes were named in addition to the two trophies for the best wine and best producer.
A special bottle sticker was introduced in 2013 to feature on the bottles of the winner of the General Smuts Trophy and thereby to show off the overall best young wine of the year in the market-place. This has led to more and more trophy winners being bottled as such instead of ‘losing their identity’ through further blending.
With regard to the overall results, Diemersdal not only walked away with the General Smuts Trophy for the best wine of 2022 for its wooded Shiraz, but also with the Reserve Champion Shiraz (unwooded).
Badsberg, in addition to its achievement as Best Producer, also excelled with two national winners:
• Badsberg Chardonnay (wooded) and
• Badsberg Hanepoot Jerepigo
Two of Orange River Wine Cellars’ (OWC) wineries excelled with trophy winners:
• OWC Grootdrink Pinotage (wooded) and
• OWC Kakamas Sauvignon Blanc (wooded)
The rest of the SA Champions are:
• White Blend – Slanghoek Wine Cellar Sauvignon Blanc/Sémillon
• Chenin Blanc – De Wet Cellar Chenin Blanc (wooded)
• Sémillon – Darling Cellar Sémillon (wooded)
• Other White Cultivar – Montagu Winery Colombar
• Natural Sweet – Van Loveren Family Vineyards Natural Sweet Muscadel
• Cabernet Sauvignon – Landskroon Wines Cabernet Sauvignon (wooded)
• Merlot – KWV Merlot (wooded)
• Other Red Cultivar – Flagstone Petit Verdot (wooded)
• Red Blend – Perdeberg Wines Pinotage/Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz (wooded)
• Muscadel – Jakkalsvlei Wine Cellar Red Muscadel Jerepiko
• Cape Style – De Krans Wines Cape Vintage
Breedekloof-Worcester performed the best as district with four National Trophies, followed by Paarl with three, Orange River and Klein Karoo with two each and Stellenbosch and Swartland, one each.
The chairperson of the Young Wine Show, Christo Pienaar, said that the quality of the young wines had particularly impressed him this year. Consumers can look forward to wines of quality when bottled. “It is noticeable that the national winners derive from across the country’s wine production areas, as well as from a variety of winery types. I wish to thank all the cellars which participated for their ongoing support.”
OVERSEAS VISIT FOR TOP WINNERS
The two respective winners of the General Smuts and Pietman Hugo Trophies can meanwhile look forward to a sponsored six-day trip to Germany – thanks to a partnership announced in 2019 between the SANWSA and Porex, a prominent Paarl supplier of machinery and wine production equipment to industry. Thereby one representative each of Diemersdal and Badsberg will be on their way this year. They will be accompanied by last year’s winners, from Badsberg and Spier, as well as the 2020 winners, namely the winemakers of Flagstone and Badsberg, which were unable to go overseas because of travelling restrictions. This group of winemakers will visit a well-known fermentation company and filtration plant, as well as several wine cellars and a technical exhibition in Germany.
A WINE SHOW WITH HERITAGE
The SA Young Wine Show dates back to 1833 when the first such competition was held by the Cape of Good Hope Agricultural Society (today Agri-Expo) in the Company’s Garden in Cape Town. The Cape of Good Hope Agricultural Society – which in 1996 established the marketing name Agri-Expo – has been actively involved with the Young Wine Show since its inception as owner of this remarkable Show and has continued its commitment also as custodian to this day. In the process, Agri-Expo has entrusted the SA National Wine Show Association (SANWSA) as organiser with the most impressive array of gold and silver trophies, which are awarded each year to the winning winemakers.
JUDGES’ FEEDBACK 2022
DRY WHITE WINE
The dry white blended wines are of the best in years. The use of cultivars for the specific purpose in the blend was clearly more judiciously handled. All cultivars showed character throughout and the variety of wines styles was amazing. Especially interesting was the large number of entries in the Rosé class. The Nouvelle, Viognier and Sémillon (wooded) showed good cultivar character.
The 2022 Chenin Blanc was of excellent quality and reflected a fondness for the cultivar. Despite it being a difficult year for white wine, it is clear that Chenin Blanc is well-suited to South Africa and that even in challenging years outstanding wines can be produced from Chenin Blanc.
The Sauvignon Blanc wines’ standard was very high, although they tended to be on the shy side and need time to develop. More tropical flavours came to the fore, which will be favourably received by the consumer. The wooded wines, where the entries are growing, stood out.
The Chardonnay was of excellent character, especially in the wooded class. Top fruit concentration and good acid balance yielded special freshness. The wood treatment was exceptional, with the suitable treatment for specific styles. An outstanding Chardonnay vintage despite the challenging harvest.
A good year for red blends, with plenty of Pinotage in the non-Bordeaux type compositions – which bodes well for this South African cultivar. Good structure with good fruit and balance.
Full reds with soft tannins resulted in individualistic Merlot wines in both the wooded and unwooded classes. Exceptional fruit and good finish.
The Cabernet Sauvignon judging was quite challenging, as always, but showed the great standing of this cultivar – with upfront fruit and subtle, soft and juicy tannins. The wines’ character clearly reflected their areas of origin, although these were not known to the panel.
The Pinotage quality was very good on average. Good colour, attractive berry flavours and judicious wood treatment set a high standard this year. Even the unwooded wines showed good complexity, with favourable potential for the bottling stage.
The styles were truly diverse, on the one hand with many wines of intense colour and less structure and, otherwise, lighter hued wines with better structure and tannins and good potential. The wines clearly derive from numerous regions with differing terroir traits. The unwooded class was impressive. The gold medal winners alone will well depict South Africa’s diversity.
OTHER RED CULTIVARS
The Other Red Cultivars category was exceptional – with world-class, highly diverse wines. The highlights were Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah. They showed special freshness, excellent concentration and wood-balance, with diverse styles.
NATURAL SWEET WHITE WINE, BLANC DE NOIR, PERLḖ, ROSḖ AND STRAW WINE
Two gold medals were awarded to natural sweet wines which displayed good acid quality and concentrated fruit character. The rest varied between strong silver and bronze medals.
CAPE STYLE WINES
The Cape Ruby, Cape Vintage, other Port Styles and Blends made a good impression, while the two outstanding Cape Tawny wines had complex fruit flavours and aromas, with good colour, adequate wood-character and excellent balance.
The 2022 vintage was extremely difficult with many challenges, but Red Muscadel exceeded the expectations – especially delicate and fruity. The higher alcohol classes were more full-bodied, with attractive, delicate fruit.
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