Among the many words that the Greek philosopher Aristotle is famous for having strung together are that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, which in turn defines the modern concept of synergy – something that rings true every year at this time come the Absa Perold Cape Blend Awards. Now in its seventh year, the 2017 edition culminated in the honouring of five South African masterpieces, each comprising a minimum of 30% and no more than 70% Pinotage.
Speaking during the awards function held at the Overture Restaurant of Hidden Valley Wines in the Helderberg, Stellenbosch, Pinotage Association chair Beyers Truter reiterated that: “It’s encouraging to see how winemakers have embraced this challenge by creating unique wines that involve a vast array of styles and techniques.”
De Wet Viljoen, vice-chair of the Association, remarked that the leading examples are testimony to the quality of top South African combos that can represent the country among the best wines anywhere in the world. And Jacques Roux, convener of the judging panel, concurred, reflecting on diversity of styles and praising the astonishing quality of the 53 entries this year. Cape Blends, he said, are a reflection of the winemaker’s vision, adding that it is delightful to see how they combine different variables to make for world-class combinations.
Absa’s Provincial Managing Executive in the Western Cape, John Tshabalala, commented that Pinotage and Cape Blends are truly unique jewels in the South African winelands. On the subject of Absa’s support, he said that: “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 their 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,” said Tshabalala. “Our continued involvement with this competition is inspired by our confidence in the new generation of winemakers who are working hard to increase the prestige and sophistication of wines produced in South Africa.”
Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most popular blending partners for Pinotage and four of the Top 5 blends this year include Cabernet Sauvignon in the mix. It also came as no surprise that some of the winners are from cellars renowned for highly rated single-varietal wines made from Pinotage. Simonsig’s Redhill is among the Pinotage front-runners and the estate’s Frans Malan combo has also come to the fore on a regular basis. Whereas Windmeul is the only cellar represented among the winning Cape Blends in 2017 to have also won a trophy at the Absa Top 10 Pinotage Awards in the same year.
The 2015 vintage stood out as a particularly good year for red wine and, while Stellenbosch boasts many of South Africa’s champion red wine producers, wonderful expressions of the variety and Cape Blends built around the cultivar ‘indigenous’ to this country are completed in cellars throughout the winelands.
The judges: Jacques Roux (experienced judge and marketing director of DGB), Fred Viljoen and Johan Malan (proprietors and cellarmasters at Viljoensdrift and Simonsig respectively), Susan Erasmus (previously winemaker at Vrede en Lust and now at Laffort SA), Brad Gold (Cape Wine Master and head of marketing at Oak Valley) and Marené de Beer (winemaker at Altydgedacht).
2017 ABSA PEROLD CAPE BLEND COMPETITION WINNERS
Cape West Shiraz Pinotage Limited Release 2015
Namaqua Wines, WO Olifants River
Idiom Cape Blend 2015
WO Stellenbosch: Pinotage, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz
Lyngrove Platinum Latitude 2015
WO Stellenbosch: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage, Shiraz
Simonsig Frans Malan Cape Blend 2015
WO Stellenbosch: Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
Windmeul Cape Blend Reserve 2015
WO Coastal: Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot