18 November 2011

Presenting The Abraham Perold Pinotage Trophy

The Pinotage Association’s Abraham Perold Trophy for Pinotage, was won by Spier Wines for Savanha Naledi 2009 Pinotage.

Andrew Milne, Chief Executive Officer of Spier was presented the Abraham Perold Trophy by Peter May, honorary Member of the Pinotage Association, in the presence of HRH Prince Robert of Luxembourg, the IWSC President pictured left at the IWSC awards ceremony in London’s 600 year old Guildhall on Wednesday 16 November 2011.

The International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC) was founded in 1969 and is a premier competition of its kind. Its aim is to promote the quality and excellence of the world's best wines, spirits and liqueurs. This is achieved through a rigorous two stage judging process of professional blind tasting and detailed chemical and microbiological analysis.

The IWSC Judges said of Savanha Naledi 2009 Pinotage:

Opaque with bright purple rim. Highly perfumed nose with dark cherry, some truffle and lots of spice. Big, well rounded in the mouth with loads of body and fully packed with ripe fruit where as well as what the nose had plum and strawberry join the complexity. Supple tannins. Creamy flow and long, fruit filled finish.

Naledi, which is pronounced Nah-leh-di, is the Sotho word for ‘star’. The wine was made by Frans Smit.

The Pinotage Association’s Trophy is named on honour of Abraham Perold, South Africa’s first Professor of Viticulture & Oenology, who bred the Pinotage grape variety in 1925. The Pinotage Association exists to promote and maintain South Africa’s leading role in the production of quality Pinotage wines.

Gold winning South African wines on the tasting table in the Guildhall crypt

See also http://www.pinotage.org/2011/11/spier-wins-abraham-perold-trophy-for.html and http://www.pinotage.org/2011/11/spier-is-iwsc-producer-of-year.html

(photographs courtesy of IWSC. See photo's of the awards ceremony at http://www.iwsc.net/mediagallery/images/8?pg=1 )

Spier is IWSC Producer of the Year

Spier won the South African Producer of the Year Trophy it was announced on Wednesday evening 16 November
Andrew Milne, Chief Executive Officer of Spier received the Dave Hughes South African Producer of the Year Trophy from Dave Hughes in the presence of HRH Prince Robert of Luxembourg in front of 500 members of the international wine and spirits industry at the IWSC awards ceremony in London’s Guildhall.

Pictured left to right: HRH Prince Robert of Luxembourg, Dave Hughes, Andrew Milne.

Spier was picked from a shortlist comprising Kaapzicht Estate, Kanonkop Estate, Fleur du Cap, KWV and Nederburg.

16 November 2011

Spier wins Abraham Perold Trophy for Pinotage

This evening I am in the splendour of London’s 800 year old Guildhall at the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC) awards ceremony. I am representing The Pinotage Association to present the Abraham Perold Trophy for Pinotage sponsored by the Pinotage Association to Spier Wines for their Savanha Naledi Pinotage 2009.

Spier, whose winemaker Frans Smit is pictured left, are on a roll. They also won the IWSC Mission Hill Trophy for Chardonnay for their Spier Private Collection Chardonnay 2009 and are on the shortlist for the IWSC Dave Hughes Trophy for South African Wine Producer, plus Best in Class Gold medals. And earlier this year Savanha Naledi Pinotage 2009 was a ABSA Pinotage Top 10 winner.

Spier is on the agenda of most people who visit South Africa’s winelands. Not only are there wines to taste but a hotel, restaurants and a large garden with a river and lake plus a cheetah outreach project where visitors can get close to these beautiful endangered creatures.

I’ve been going there for the past 15 year but until this year I knew very little about the wine side. Sure there’s a tasting counter but you can’t see any vines nor had a winery and I had assumed Spier was a sort of virtual operation, buying in grapes and renting winemaking space in other facilities.

How wrong I was. Not only do Spier have many hectares of vineyards behind the garden, just out of sight over a ridge and they also own or lease vineyards in other areas of the Cape. Their large winery is surrounded with trees and equipped with some of the most modern equipment in the world. They practise sustainable farming, for their vines and food served in their restaurant and are undergoing a vigorous programme of removing alien vegetation to replace with indigenous plants that they breed in their own nurseries.

I enjoyed lunch in ‘Eight at Spier’. This airy restaurant with outside seating has an open kitchen and serves a daily changing menu that depends on what is harvested on their own estate farm and other nearby farms. The food here is delicious, light and tasty and there is a good selection of meat free dishes.

I met winemaker Frans Smit and tasted a range of his Pinotages. They have several different levels, Private Collection, Signature Series and Vintage Collection, the new premium 21 Gables range plus the Savanha label used for some export markets.

In the winery I watched in amazement a new grape sorting machine (above) being put through it spaces. This high tech machine scans individual grapes passing through it on a conveyer belt at up to 30 km an hour If one of its lasers encounters something other than a perfect grape a puff of compressed air shoots the rejected item up where another burst of air jets it into a discard hopper.

The machine can be set to recognise different grades of grapes so it is possible to sort grapes destined for various bottlings. Spier hand sort grapes for their premium labels but there is not enough time to hand sort all the grapes for all their labels, but with the new machine they will be able to.

Congratulation to the team at Spier Wines and to winemaker Frans Smit.

11 November 2011

Chamonix Pinotage Wows Wine Soc

More than 120 members of The Wine Society in the UK attended a tasting of a selection of South African wines featured in their latest shipment and voted on their favourite.

Steve Farrow from the Society's Cellar Showroom reports that

"the clear winner was, unexpectedly, the most expensive of the offerings on show: the deliciously ripe and full Chamonix Greywacke Pinotage, 2007 from Franschhoek (£10.95). Pinotage is almost purely South African, being a crossing bred there in the 1920s from pinot noir and cinsault and rarely grown anywhere else.

It makes a real variety of red styles and when treated with proper care, as it has been by Chamonix, it can really shine. This example is made in the ripasso style more familiarly seen in the Veneto of Italy which provides it with real velvety depth and richness. Our tasters bought more of this than any other wine and understandably so."


01 November 2011

Jennifer Molgat of The View talks Pinotage - video

The View is a fifth generation farm set in fruit orchard country south of the town of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. The winery name comes from the amazing view of Lake Okanagan from the highest part on the farm where the tasting room was planned to be built. But that is on hold and tastings take place at the winery and office in an old apple packing facility next to the roadside.

Here I met the ebullient owner, Jennifer Molgat (pictured left inspecting Pinotage), winemaker Bernhard Schirrmeister and vineyard manager Willem Semmelink. It is Jennifers red stiletto shoes that have become the winery's logo and each wine comes with a shoe pairing recommendation.

Eight years ago they planted 4 acres of Pinotage and because the variety was successful they have planted another 4 acres. The soil is sandy loam with some clay on the lower slopes.

Four varietal Pinotages are produced. “We make North America’s only Pinotage Rosé,” says Jennifer. Named Distraction, 2010 is the second vintage and is bright pink, clean and fresh and dry with a tang of red grapefruit flavours. This is a grown–up’s rosé and it won ‘Judges Choice’ and a Gold medal in the rosé category at the Okanagan Spring Wine Festival. (Shoe pairing: “Nothing…you will want to feel the sand in between your toes”)

The View wines are in demand from restaurants and Red Shoe Red is a Pinotage produced for the on-trade and closed with a screw-cap because that’s what restaurants request for wines served by the glass. I tasted the 2009 vintage. 60% is aged in old oak. It is dark red with soft red-berry fruit flavours, cracked black pepper and a dry finish. It’s lovely stuff. (Shoe pairing: 4 inch Red spike heels)

2009 Pinotage Reserve had some juice bled off to intensify the remaining wine by increasing the skin to juice ratio. This has an inky dense black red colour and a tangy taste at first that ends in lingering smooth dark chocolate and cherry flavours. I really enjoyed this serious delicious wine. (Shoe pairing: Anything Jimmy Choo)

2008 Pinotage is lighter, with an expressive nose and bright strawberry flavours and a touch of sourness on the finish. (Shoe pairing: Louis Vuitton penny loafers)
Jennifer drove me up the hill behind the winery to see the views of Kelowna and the lake. We passed vines laden down with large black bunches of Baco Noir which will be sold to other wineries, and pale green Riesling.

Pinotage is grown on high trellises and some of the older vines are on their own roots but phylloxera has been detected nearby and the new Pinotage vineyards (pictured above) are grafted.

While in the mature Pinotage vineyard with its ripe bunches soon to be harvested, I asked Jennifer to tell us about her Pinotage:

The View produce the funniest winery video's I have seen. Make sure you see the Red Shoes in winery action at theviewwinery.com/video.html