14 October 2004

Pinotage Top 10 - 2004

Winners of the ABSA/Pinotage Association 'Top 10' competition were announced in Cape Town on Thursday 14 October. They are

  • Bay View Pinotage 2003 (Longridge/Winecorp - Stellenbosch)
  • La Cave Pinotage 2003 (Wamakersvallei Wine Cellar - Wellington)
  • Laibach Pinotage 2003 (Laibach Vineyards - Stellenbosch)
  • L'Avenir Pinotage 2003 (L'Avenir Estate - Stellenbosch)
  • Môreson Pinotage 2003 (Môreson - Franschhoek)
  • Raka Pinotage 2003 (Raka - Stanford)
  • Rijk's Private Cellar Pinotage 2001 (Rijk's Private Cellar - Tulbagh)
  • Sentinel Pinotage 2003 (Coppoolse Finlayson-Sentinel Winery - Stellenbosch)
  • Spice Route Pinotage 2003 (Spice Route Wine Company - Swartland)
  • Spier Private Collection 2002 (Spier/Winecorp - Stellenbosch)

The runners up were Altydgedacht 2001, Beaumont 2002, Beyerskloof Reserve Collection 2003, Beyerskloof Select Winemakers 2003, Diemersfontein 2003, Hill & Dale 2003, Jacobsdal 2001, Morgenhof Estate 2001, Stellenzicht Golden Triangle 2002, and Tecoma 2002.

Winemaker Francois Naudé of L'Avenir Estate holds the record with wins in seven of the eight competitions.

While it was good to see wineries showing consistency by repeating previous successes (La Cave, Rijk's, Laibach, and Môreson) it is also exciting to see new names among the winners and new areas. Raka is a new vineyard in a ward, Kleinrivier, that was only registered in August.

Dr Steve Booysen, group chief executive of Absa said "Similar to Absa, the new achievements of the Pinotage society stand on the shoulders of the previous year's successes. There seems to be a trend that on the international scene Pinotage is slowly but surely becoming the preferred South African red wine. Absa is very proud to be a sponsor of this competition and to be part of the Pinotage Association's objective to always improve continuous quality and volume. We agree with the author Elbert Hubbard who said art is the beautiful way of doing things, science is the effective way of doing things and business is the economic way of doing, and when you combine it - as is the case with fine Pinotage wines - the final product is higher in every facet. To me it is the essence of what is achieved every year."

Pinotage Association Chairman, Beyers Truter, said "There has been a tremendous growth in quality Pinotage over the past decade. I'm not saying all future Pinotages will be fault-free, but this won't be because of the cultivar but the winemaker. To make Pinotage is not easy. You have to control acid, PH and tannins and it's easy to get bacterial spoilage. But those that can make Pinotage can make any wine. We know the cultivar and we are making classic wines that can compete with the best in the world."

Beyerskloof was a runner-up with two reserves. The Beyerskloof Select Winemakers 2003 is a special bottling for South Africa's 'Wine of the Month Club' and the Beyerskloof Reserve Collection 2003 is specially blended for the UK supermarket Sainsbury. Owner/winemaker Beyers Truter told me he wasn't surprised at the success of the special blends as they "are blended to be more immediately attractive, and they have an open inviting nose." He makes his regular Reserve for ageing, with more wood and sees them reaching a peak in ten years.

He remained cheerful when his wines didn't reach the final ten, congratulating the winners and saying how pleased he was to see a new generation of young winemakers making such of a success of the cultivar he has championed over the years

The judges for the 2004 competition were Duimpie Bayly (convener), Peter May (wine writer from England and honourary member of the Pinotage Association), Neil Pendock (wine writer), Charl Theron (wine consultant and previously head of production at KWV), Mike Louw (wine consultant), Jenny Ratcliff (Cape Wine Master) and Dave Hughes (international wine judge from South Africa).

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