28 July 2021

The search is on to find the best young wines of the 2021 vintage as more than 1,100 entries compete for trophies and gold, silver and bronze medals at the SA Young Wine Show judging at the Nederburg Auction Complex in Paarl this week (26 – 30 July).

The SA Young Wine Show is one of the oldest wine competitions in the world, dating back to 1833 and is now in its 189th year. 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.

The wines will compete for 17 prestigious trophies in the various classes, with only one of the entries to be crowned as the overall champion young wine of the year and presented with the coveted General Smuts Trophy. At the same time, The Pietman Hugo Trophy will be awarded to the cellar with the highest total points for entries in five categories. Altogether 14 panels with more than 50 judges will be looking for the best young wines of 2021.

The classes that attracted the most entries this year were Other Red Cultivars, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinotage.

The 17 competing classes for SA Champion glory are, among white wines, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Sémillon, Other White Cultivars, Dry White Blends, Off-dry White Wines and Noble Late Harvest. In the classes for red wines, trophies are awarded for the finest Pinotage, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Other Red Cultivars and Dry Red Blends. The fortified wine class trophies comprise outstanding Cape Port Style, Dessert Wine and Muscadel.

This mammoth judging is accompanied by good news for wine lovers, namely that South Africa’s 2021 wine grape crop will bring exceptional wines to consumers, from a much cooler and later current wine grape season.

“It seems as though the vines really took their time to prepare this year’s harvest,” says Conrad Schutte, consultation service manager of the wine industry body Vinpro. “Moderate weather throughout the season, and specifically during harvest time, resulted in grapes ripening slower, while developing exceptional colour and flavour.”

The judging process this year again takes place amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, but the organisers, the SANWSA, has confirmed that they will be implementing their world-leading sanitation systems to judge wines again this year, as developed last year.

Thereby, the SA Young Wine Show took wine competition sanitation standards to a new level, employing advanced ultra-violet and ozone air-and-surface sanitation techniques – in addition to applying comprehensive, specially formulated, protocols to ensure the most Covid-19 safe environment possible for the judges and personnel involved. This, thanks to collaboration with Tharo Wine, a Stellenbosch-based cooperage and sanitation service specialist with its remarkable UV-related Uvozone system.

“We’ve gone to these lengths in the interest of the South African wine industry to create a safe and healthy environment for our judges and personnel involved,” said the organisation’s chairperson, Christo Pienaar.

Details of the awards and trophy presentation to be hosted by Agri-Expo will be announced in due course.

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Contact Bennie Howard, Vice-chairperson or Elsabé Ferreira, manager.

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