The 6th annual Absa Perold Cape Blend Wine Competition has affirmed what many local wine commentators have been saying for years: that South Africa’s indigenous Pinotage grape is the ultimate all-rounder. The winning wines in this year’s competition all differ in their blend make-up, highlighting Pinotage’s ability to seamlessly integrate with and complement virtually any variety in making individualistic wines of world class.
According to Beyers Truter, chairman of the Pinotage Association who organises the Perold Cape Blend Competition in collaboration with Absa, the Cape Blend is one of the country’s most dynamic and exciting wine categories.
“When the Absa Perold Cape Blend competition was initiated in 2011, the aim was to promote a category that would yield bold, vibrant wines truly representative of South Africa, i.e. with a significant Pinotage component, possessing the kind of complexity, balance and ageability that would make them stand out on a world stage.”
“Apart from the prescribed Pinotage component, there are no restrictions on making a Cape Blend, the winemaker’s only limitation is his or her imagination. The result is that we see incredible stylistic diversity and creativity in the wines entered – among the winners there really is a wine to satisfy every palate and stylistic preference. If there is one thing evident it is that in the make-up of a fine Cape Blend, you see a true craftsman – or woman – at work,” says Truter.
The five winning Cape Blends for 2016 are:
Beyerskloof Wines Faith 2014 (Pinotage 34%/Cabernet Sauvignon 33%/Merlot 33%)
Flagstone Winery Dragon Tree 2014 (Cabernet Sauvignon 32%/Shiraz 31%/Pinotage 30%/Malbec 5%/Merlot 2%)
Idiom Cape Blend 2014 (Pinotage 42%/Cabernet Sauvignon 28%/Merlot 25%/Shiraz 5%), KWV Abraham Perold Tributum 2014 (Shiraz 32%/Pinotage 30%/Malbec 21%/Cabernet Sauvignon 13%/Petite Sirah 4%)
Pulpit Rock Winery Louisa 2013 (Pinotage 50%/Cabernet Sauvignon 45%/Shiraz 5%)
Jacques Roux, convenor of the panel of judges, said that in judging this year’s entries it was evident that wineries were putting their very best wine component into the Cape Blends.
“The blend is definitely not an afterthought,” says Roux. “The panel saw entrants using their very finest wines to craft their respective Cape Blends, which produced wines of structure, polish and greatness.”
The challenge in judging the category, says Roux, is its diversity. “With producers basically having a blank slate in the components they are allowed to merge with their Pinotage, it is a challenging category to judge,” he says. “Some wines ooze delightful Rhone-styled juiciness, while others are made in a muscular, elegant Bordeaux style. Selecting the best was a challenging task for the panel, but we are confident that we came up with the cream of the crop.”
According to Doug Walker, Absa’s Provincial Managing Executive in the Western Cape, Pinotage and the Cape Blend category of wines are truly unique jewels in the crown that is the South African wine industry.
“This partnership reflects our long-standing commitment not only to the Pinotage Association but to the South African wine industry as a whole. Our corporate philosophy is strongly centred around ideas, innovation and creativity, and the Cape Blend winemakers reflect these values with their dynamic and passionate search for wines that have an own identity, are creatively put together and reflect the excellence of Brand South Africa, of which we as a bank are proud to be a part of. These wines can become international showcases for the South African wine industry as they are unique to the wine world.”
“Our continued involvement with this competition is inspired by our confidence in the new generation of South African winemakers who are working hard to increase the prestige and sophistication of wines produced in South Africa.”
The rules of the competition state that at least 30% of the final blend – but not more than 70% – has to be Pinotage. A category rapidly growing in popularity, this year’s competition attracted 50 entries from some of the country’s leading wine producers.
Roux was joined on the judging panel by Brad Gold (CWM), and winemakers Susan Erasmus (Vrede en Lust), Thys Louw (Diemersdal) and Johan Malan (Simonsig). Tamsyn Jeftha was included as a protégé.