2015 ABSA Top 10 Winners
Legendary Stellenbosch wine estate Kanonkop and Rijk’s Cellars from Tulbagh have made history by becoming the first producers to each notch up ten Absa Top 10 Pinotage Awards.
At this year’s awards function, held at the KWV in Paarl on 28 August, the Kanonkop Pinotage 2012 and Rijk’s Reserve Pinotage 2011 won two of the Absa Top 10 trophies handed to the winning wines in the 2015 competition. The 10 winners topped a total of 154 wines that were entered into this year’s competition.
The Absa Top 10 Pinotage Awards is one of South Africa’s premier wine industry contests. This year’s competition marks the 19th consecutive year of collaboration between Absa Bank Ltd (Absa), member of Barclays Africa Group Ltd (Barclays Africa), and the SA Pinotage Association in recognising wineries from throughout South Africa for their interpretation of the country’s famous indigenous grape variety.
The wine regions of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Durbanville each delivered two of this year’s Absa Top 10 winners. Neethlingshof joined Kanonkop in flying the Stellenbosch flag with its Estate Pinotage 2014. Altydgedacht Pinotage 2013 and Diemersdal Pinotage Reserve 2014 saw Durbanville staking a spot as a potent Pinotage region, while Paarl producers Windmeul and first-time winner Ayama won Absa Top 10 trophies for the Windmeul Pinotage Reserve 2014 and Ayama Pinotage 2013 respectively.
Groot Constantia, South Africa’s oldest wine farm, showed it can still produce the goods with a Top 10 for the Groot Constantia Pinotage 2013. Worcester-based Overhex Wines International’s Survivor Pinotage 2014 secured a trophy in its first Absa Top 10 outing, while Flagstone’s Writer’s Block Pinotage 2013 had the last word in this year’s event.
Beyers Truter, chairman of the Pinotage Association, said that two features stood out from this year’s competition: the milestones reached by Kanonkop and Rijk’s and the performance of wines made from the 2014 vintage.
“When the Pinotage Association founded the Absa Top 10 Competition in 1997, we had a vision of not only honouring Pinotage wines but also to create legends,” said Truter. “By winning Top 10 awards ten times, Kanonkop and Rijk’s have now undoubtedly established themselves not only as legendary producers of Pinotage, but icons in the South African wine industry, too.” “As a producer myself I know how high the demands of the judging panel are, and to show the kind of consistency as Kanonkop and Rijk’s have done throughout the years is an affirmation of the winemaker's understanding of his terroir, the unique traits of the Pinotage grape and tremendous winemaking skill.”
Commenting on the four trophy winners produced from the 2014 vintage, Truter said that it was remarkable to see wines scarcely 18 months old standing on the winners’ podium.
“The vintage was late and cool, with a very wet pre-season and produced a relatively light crop,” he said. “But now we have four wines barely out of their nappies showing the quality and refined elegance to take Top 10 trophies, showing us how exceptional last year’s vintage actually was. Consumers can definitely tick off 2014 as a must-have year for red wine.”
Craig Bond, Chief Executive of Retail and Business Banking at Barclays Africa says: “I would like to congratulate all the participants and winners in this year’s Pinotage Top 10 competition, especially Kanonkop and Rijk’s Cellars for re-writing the history books. We wish all the finalists great success on their winemaking journey hope they continue to prosper.
“At Absa and Barclays Africa we are proud of our partnership with the Pinotage Association, now in its 19th consecutive year, as we continue to promote uniquely South African wines made from Pinotage grapes. Our continued involvement with and support of this competition is driven by our confidence in the new generation of South African winemakers – these winemakers are working hard to increase the prestige and sophistication of wines produced in South Africa.”
The judging panel for this year’s Absa Top 10 comprised Duimpie Bayly, winemakers Neil Ellis, Fred Viljoen and Corlea Fourie, wine writer Samarie Smit, sommelier Georgio Meletio and viticulturist Stephan Joubert.