Wine lovers across the country are elated after Shiraz SA this week singled out no less than 12 wines that came out tops in the ninth annual Shiraz Challenge. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the awards ceremony was held virtually.
The glitzy affair was hosted by well-known television personality Marciel Hopkins. Winners were announced by Karen Zoid, a singer, composer and talk show host. This year, the event was sponsored by Vinventions SA, global supplier of complete wine closure solutions.
The Shiraz wines that were singled out are:
- Cederberg Shiraz 2018;
- Driehoek Syrah 2019;
- Flagstone Dark Horse Shiraz 2017;
- Glen Carlou Syrah 2019;
- Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Shiraz 2017;
- Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Shiraz 2018;
- Koelfontein Shiraz 2019;
- Landskroon Paul de Villiers Shiraz 2019;
- Neil Ellis Groenekloof Syrah 2019;
- Rooiberg Winery Shiraz Reserve 2019;
- Saronsberg Shiraz 2019; and
- Stellenbosch Vineyards Credo Shiraz 2018.
The runners-up were Diemersdal Shiraz 2018, Fairview Beacon Shiraz 2016, Fairview Eenzaamheid Shiraz 2017, Lomond Cat’s Tail Shiraz 2019, Rainbow’s End Shiraz 2019, Spier Seaward Shiraz 2019, Villion Syrah 2019 and Wellington Wines La Cave Shiraz 2018.
In a media release, the cultivar association says that since 2014 Shiraz blends were also included in the competition. They also saw a significant increase in these entries this year. The winning Shiraz blends were Anura SMG Reserve 2018, KWV Roodeberg Dr Charles Niehaus 2018 and Stellenzicht Acheulean Red 2018.
The finalists announced in the blend category were Alvi’s Drift Albertus Viljoen Bismarck 2019, Babylonstoren Babel 2019 and Flagstone Velvet 2017.
Shiraz Rosé winner
As in 2020, the category for rosé drew only a few entries with the three finalist wines all from the 2021 vintage.
Villion Family Wines Rosa Rabbedoe Rosé 2021 was crowned as the winner with Lyngrove Collection Shiraz Rosé and Saronsberg Shiraz Rosé coming in as runners-up.
For the ninth consecutive year the judging panel was chaired by Cape Wine Master Dr Andy Roediger.
The judges also included a new line-up of experienced tasters. This included Frans Smit (Spier Cellar Master), Elzette du Preez (winemaker and member of the Shiraz SA management team), Richard Kershaw (British Master of Wine and winemaker and owner of Richard Kershaw Wines) and Paul Benadé (Cape Wine Master).
More fruit-driven wines
The judging process was developed in conjunction with Stellenbosch University. The format eliminates inter-session discussion of wines and requires every judge to taste wines arranged in a unique order.
Roediger says, “The quality of Shiraz wines keeps increasing and this makes it exceedingly difficult to select the winning wines as there are so many excellent wines at the top level.
“A tendency that has emerged during this year’s judging, is that the wines tend to be more fruit driven, making the differentiation compared to old world wines and other countries more distinctive.”
He adds that often aromatics come to the forefront rather than “the herbaceous character of the old world yet maintaining a full-bodied mouthfeel. Spiciness is evident and perhaps, to my mind, the pepper notes were not as evident as years gone by. Lower alcohol levels are also apparent so, in summary the Shiraz wines are of earlier drinking styles than in years gone by.”