Absa Vintage Pinotage Excellence Awards: Recognising Exceptional Excellence in South African Winemaking
[Cape Town, 20 July 2023] – We are delighted to announce the launch of the Absa Vintage Pinotage Excellence Awards, a ground-breaking initiative that celebrates the artistry and outstanding craftsmanship of South African winemakers. In its first year with a fresh approach, the awards have evolved from the Absa Top 10 Pinotage awards to focus on judging Vintage wines separately. This innovative decision was made in collaboration with the esteemed Institute of Cape Wine Masters, ensuring the utmost integrity and expertise in the evaluation process.
The Absa Vintage Pinotage Excellence Awards have attracted a panel of distinguished judges renowned for their discerning palates and extensive knowledge of the wine industry. The esteemed judging panel includes Bennie Howard, Anton Swarts, Christine Rudman, Colin Frith, and Sandy Harper, each bringing their expertise and passion to the evaluation process. Their collective experience and deep understanding of the nuances of Pinotage have ensured a rigorous and fair assessment of the nominees.
Beyers Truter, Chairman of the Pinotage Association, expressed his excitement for the new direction of the Absa Vintage Pinotage Excellence Awards, saying, “The decision to judge these Vintage wines (wines 10 years and older) separately was a progressive move inspired by the Institute of Cape Wine Masters. We believe this approach will shine a spotlight on the exceptional qualities of each Vintage, highlighting the uniqueness and diversity of South African Pinotage wines.”
Nominees for the Excellence Awards
The Vintage Pinotage Awards Excellence Awards category features an impressive line-up of nominees, each exemplifying the highest standards of winemaking. The nominees are as follows:
Beyerskloof Wines | Winemaker: Anri Truter
- 2013 Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage
- 2013 Beyerskloof Pinotage Reserve
- 2012 Beyerskloof Pinotage Reserve
Diemersfontein Wines | Winemaker: Francois Roode
- 2012 Diemersfontein Carpe Diem Pinotage
Flagstone Winery | Winemaker: Gerhard Swart
- 2006 Flagstone Writer’s Block Pinotage
Iwayini | Winemaker: De Wet Viljoen
- 2000 Lord Neethling Pinotage
Kanonkop | Winemaker: Abrie Beeslaar
Lanzerac | Winemaker: Wynand Lategan
- 2012 Lanzerac Pinotage
- 2010 Lanzerac Pionier Pinotage
- 1993 Lanzerac Pinotage
- 2008 Lanzerac Pionier Pinotage
Rijk’s Wine | Winemaker: Adriaan Jacobs (Pierre Wahl produced the wine)
- 2013 Rijk’s Private Cellar Pinotage
Simonsig Wines | Winemaker: Michael Malan
- 2012 Simonsig Redhill Pinotage
Wellington Wines | Winemaker: Daniel Slabber
These exceptional wines showcase the innovation, skill, and dedication of South African winemakers in crafting outstanding Vintage Pinotage wines. Each nominee embodies the essence of this iconic varietal, making the Excellence Awards a testament to their exemplary work.
The 2023 competition had over 34 vintage wine entries. Regional representation in wines receiving 90+ points included Breede River Valley (1), Stellenbosch (10), Tulbagh (1), and Wellington (2).
All wines scoring 90+ are recognised in the Absa Vintage Pinotage Excellence Awards. There is no outright winner, and it is not a collection of wines as in the past. Each recipient receives the accolade of excellence.
The Awards Ceremony
The Absa Vintage Pinotage Excellence Awards Ceremony took place on 20 July 2023 at Aubergine Restaurant. This exclusive event brought together influential wine journalists and industry experts to celebrate the remarkable achievements of the nominees and winners. It was an afternoon filled with anticipation, revelry, and the opportunity to taste exceptional Vintage Pinotage wines from South Africa’s finest producers.
Abrie Rautenbach, Absa Agribusiness Executive, “Congratulations to the remarkable recipients of the Absa Vintage Pinotage Excellence Awards! We at Absa Bank take immense pride in our longstanding sponsorship, celebrating the enduring legacy of Pinotage craftsmanship and innovation. We are already looking forward to next year”
About the Judges
Bennie Howard CWM, the convener of this year’s competition
Bennie is one of the first Cape Wine Masters to qualify in 1983. After a career as a broadcaster, Bennie started the SFW Wine Plan in Port Elizabeth with 12 wine advisors in 1979. He then took over at SFW Head Office Public Relations and Group Corporate Affairs in Stellenbosch in 1989, responsible for the management of the Nederburg Auction from 1989 to 2005. Bennie also organised the OIV World Conference in Cape Town in 1996, and travelled to the USA, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Australia, and New Zealand.
Anton Swarts CWM,
Anton is one of the senior winemakers of Spier Wines, where he has been working since 1999. He attained his ND: Agriculture at the Cape Technikon, in conjunction with Elsenburg Agricultural College in 1998. He completed the Van Ryn’s Advanced Brandy Course of the SA Brandy Association in 2014, Spier’s Management Development Program in 2015, Michael Fridjhon’s 2019 Wine Judging Academy in association with the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business and currently he is studying online through Harvard’s ManageMentor® program. Anton also serves as Judge on various panels for Veritas, as well as other prestigious competitions held within the South African Wine Industry.
Christine Rudman CWM
For 7 years, Christine was the second principal of the Cape Wine Academy after Phyllis Hands. For 9 years she was chairperson of the Institute of Cape Wine Masters, and since then she has been occupied with consultancy work and writing a wine column for Die Burger and Beeld, along with freelance work for other publications. She has travelled widely to the world´s wine countries, and tasted on international panels including the International Wine Challenge in London as panel chairperson, International Wine and Spirit Competition in the UK, Tastevinage in Burgundy and Valcaleppio´s annual Cabernet / Merlot competition in Italy.
Colin Frith CWM
He has decades of experience in the wine industry, Honorary Cape Wine Master and Master Blender. Cape Wine Masters are involved in a range of disciplines: wine making, wine marketing, wine promotion and sales, wine journalism and wine competitions judging.
Sandy Harper CWM
Sandy Harper, is a Cape Wine Master. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Home Economics with majors in Food Science & Air Transport Economics from Stellenbosch University. Sandy is a judge for the (IWSC) International Wine and Spirits Competition both locally and in London, is a lecturer at the Cape Wine Academy and is one of three travelling judges for the National Distell Inter Hotel Challenge since 2015. As of 2019 she also judges for the Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Competition.
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[Note to Editors: About the Absa Vintage Pinotage Excellence Awards: Celebrate the excellence and craftsmanship of South African winemakers, with a special focus on Vintage Pinotage wines. The awards have evolved from the Absa Top 10 Pinotage awards to acknowledge the unique qualities of each Vintage. The initiative was suggested by the Institute of Cape Wine Masters, ensuring a rigorous and credible evaluation process. Absa Bank is the premium sponsor of the Pinotage Association.]