The 2017 Babylonstoren Shiraz and Perdeberg 2015 The Dry Land Collection Braveheart Chenin Blanc were respectively awarded the floating trophy for the Top Red and Top White wine at the 2019 Paarl Wine Challenge.
Last year saw the introduction of a new nine category format with 2019 showcasing Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, other white cultivars, white blends, Pinotage, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, other red cultivars and red blends.
A panel of industry experts including Cape Wine Master Raymond Noppé; Neethlingshof cellar master De Wet Viljoen; KWV wine maker Izele van Blerk; industry expert Altus le Roux and Susan Erasmus of Lafret singled out Shiraz as the best overall category.
The top 12 wines based on overall points scored and not wine categories were the 2017 Babylonstoren Nebukadneser Cabernet Sauvignon; 2015 Boland Cellar Reserve No1 Shiraz; 2016 Boland Cellar Talent & Terroir Shiraz; 2017 Mellasat Dekker’s Valley Revelation; 2017 Mellasat White Pinotage; 2016 Mitre’s Edge Cabernet Sauvignon; 2016 Olsen Private Vineyard Pinotage; 2018 Perdeberg The Vineyard Collection Cinsault; 2017 Vrede & Lust Artisan Malbec; 2016 Windmeul Pinotage Reserve as well as the two trophy winning wines. These wines will be marketed as Paarl Wine Challenge Top Twelve by means of Paarl Wine Challenge Top 12 stickers sponsored by MCC Labels.
Six wines were entered into the Chenin Blanc category, including a wooded and a natural sweet Chenin. According to the panel, all the wines showed good complexity and colour with the 2015 vintage showing the most potential. The wines did, however, lack the explosive fruit expression that is normally typical of the varietal.
In the Chardonnay category, the panel felt that the oak management on the three wooded Chardonnays needed some fine tuning as either too much of too little wood compromised the complexity of the wine.
The Viognier and White Pinotage in the Other Whites category received positive feedback with the Viognier showing cool climate elegance that highlighted the fact that cooler pockets in Paarl as a warm wine growing region could deliver expressive and aromatic cool climate wines. The innovative Mellasat White Pinotage was hailed for showing good complexity and skill from the wine maker to coach a robust red variety into a very elegant and complex white wine.
“The flight of eight Shirazes we tasted beautifully captured the varietal typography of the region balancing the fruitiness, tannins and oak management on the wines,” said Noppé.
According to the panel, the Pinotage was elegant and well balanced with a good mix of classic and new world fruit-driven styles, while the Cabernet Sauvignon did not impress and showed signs of premature aging. “Especially the 2015 and 2017 wines did not portray the gravitas of those particularly good vintages.”
“The three wines entered in the other reds category were solid and well-made showing good varietal character highlighting the value in planting these varieties in a Paarl terroir context. Paarl producers should definitely take note of Malbec, Cinsault and Grinache going forward as all three wines did not have to rely on oak for complexity and a fruit driven character.”
The Shiraz Cabernet 2017 red blend received a special mention as a beautiful harmonious blend. One cultivar did not overpower the other, but rather came together to show the class of the vintage rather than the individual building blocks.
Noppé concluded that the fact that only Wines of Origin Paarl, that have been vinified within the boundaries of the WO region and its wards could enter, had an impact on the number of entries. “Going forward, we would like to see the larger producers showcasing their wines and recommend looking at two categories, namely best wine of origin Paarl and best Paarl producer.”
According to Annelize Stroebel, CEO of the Drakenstein Local Tourism Association, which incorporates the Paarl Wine Route, they were extremely pleased with the positive feedback received from the panel of judges and very excited about the quality of wine produced under the Wine of Origin Paarl appellation. “Once again, we saw some stalwart varietals showing their mettle in the exceptional Paarl terroir, but it is also encouraging seeing the talent of our local winemakers coaxing some top-scoring quality from different and fairly new varietals.”
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