If you’re among the fortunate ones to still have a little something-something left in your fridge, please raise a glass for the winners of this year’s Shiraz Challenge, announced during a glitzy virtual event earlier today.
(And if you have no booze left, simply raise your coffee mug because the 12 winners are phenomenal.) Despite the covid-19 lockdown and all the jazz that it entails, judging for the eight annual Shiraz Challenge went ahead with the top-scoring wines announced today. International model and TV personality Marciel Hopkins was the MC and announced the wines that came up trumps.
Cultivar association Shiraz SA hosted the event attended virtually by producers, members of the media and consumers. “Sadly we could not go ahead with the traditional tasting of finalists, luncheon and announcement of the winners and the online affair was the best second place we could come up with,” says Edmund Terblanche, chairman of Shiraz SA.
And the 12 Shiraz champions for 2020 are…
*Insert drum roll here for the winning wines in no particular order*
- Koelfontein Shiraz 2017
- Kunjani Shiraz 2015
- Benguela Cove Estate Syrah 2018
- Saronsberg Shiraz 2018
- Trizanne Reserve Syrah 2018
- Flagstone Dark Horse Shiraz 2016
- Babylonstoren Shiraz 2018
- Lomond Estate Syrah 2018
- De Grendel Elim Shiraz 2018
- Wildeberg Red (Boutinot)
- Old Road Wine Co Pepper Wind Syrah 2018
- Leeuwenkuil Family Vineyards Heritage Syrah
Runners-up in the category for Shiraz were: La Motte Pierneef Syrah Viognier 2017; Bloemendal Tierberg Syrah 2014; Rust en Vrede Estate Vineyards Syrah 2017; De Grendel Shiraz 2016; Alto Shiraz 2017; Rickety Bridge Shiraz 2017; Benguela Cove Lighthouse Syrah 2018 and Stellenview Cape Five Reserve Shiraz 2017.
The winning Shiraz blends are:
- Saronsberg Full Circle 2018
- Babylonstoren Babel 2018
- Strandveld The Navigator 2017
Lomond Belladonna SMV 2018; Idiom SMV 2015 and KWV Roodeberg Dr Charles Niehaus 2016 were the finalists pipped at the post in the blend category.
And the winning Shiraz Rosé is…
This year, a new category for Shiraz Rosé was introduced and Stellenbosch Hills Polkadraai Rosé 2020 was announced as the winning wine. Zandvliet Shiraz Rosé 2020 joined Kleinood Katherien Rosé 2019 as runners-up in this category.
Terblanche says, “Although the number of rosé wines entered was fairly low, we expect it to grow in the future as this is a style of wine that is fast gathering popularity the world over.”
Panel convenor and Cape Wine Master Dr Andy Roediger remarked that the wines entered in this category were all dry and elegant with little variance in their light blush colour. Wines displayed subtle red fruits with slight spicy undertones and full of vibrant character.
“The Shiraz blends were very well harmonised and did not allow other varieties to dominate in character as sometimes in the past.” – Dr Andy Roediger
In general the wines were well structured with good wood management, says Roediger. “Surprisingly, the older vintages took centre stage, showing Shiraz blends can also age gracefully.”
Terblanche, also a member of the judging panel, adds, “The overall quality in the Shiraz category was extremely high and accommodated all the different styles such as pepper-dominated, fruit-driven or spicy. Here the younger vintages of 2017 to 2019 actually outclassed the much talked-about vintage of 2015.”
To that Roediger added, “This category was by far the best that I have had in judging Shiraz over the past few years. It shows that South African Shiraz is on par with those of other countries in the world.”
The unique format for tasting that eliminates inter-session discussion of wines and requires each judge to follow his own specific tasting order, was once again utilised.
“In order to adhere to the guidelines for Covid 19, the judging panel as well as the number of working personnel, had to be reduced and a number of measures put in place” explained Terblanche. “However, we were fortunate in that everything went smoothly and we managed to conclude the four-day judging without any hitches,” says Roediger.
Top panel of judges
This year the panel comprised a line-up of experienced tasters. Assisting Roediger were Shiraz SA chairperson and La Motte cellar master Edmund Terblanche, De Grendel cellar master Charles Hopkins, Anthony de Jager, cellar master at Fairview, and the owner and winemaker and Cape Wine Master from Eenzaamheid, Janno Briers-Louw.
The main sponsor for the 2020 Shiraz Challenge was Vinventions SA. The company’s managing director, Johan Conradie, say they are proud to have been associated with this competition for eight years.
Other contributors were Nederburg, where judging traditionally takes place, supporting software provider and program developer Wine MS. The Exceed Group supervised judging and audited the results.
Shiraz SA, established in 2008, is currently the largest cultivar organisation with over 230 members. It represents producers of South African Shiraz and its aim is to create awareness of the superior and award-winning wines produced locally from this noble cultivar.