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Cape of Victory: South Africa shines at International Wine Challenge 2016
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South African winemakers had a standout year at the International Wine Challenge 2016, which announces its results today. Following two weeks of intensive blind tasting in London last month, panels of international wine experts awarded 21 Gold medals, 98 Silver and 169 Bronze medals, bringing the total medal tally to 288.

The results showed winemakers from the Cape are masters of white wine, with two thirds (14) of the Gold medals being awarded to whites, including one sweet wine and one sparkling wine. Amongst those winners, South African favourites Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc led the charge, although top prizes were also awarded to wines made from Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Semillon.

Seven South African red wines received Gold medals across a variety of styles including Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinotage, Pinot Noir and Shiraz. Gold medal winners came from all over the country, including Cederberg Ward, Elgin, Franschhoek, Paarl, Robertson, Tulbagh and the Western Cape, yet it was the Stellenbosch region which came out on top, with eight Gold medal winners, and an even split between reds and whites.

Stellenbosch vineyard DeMorgenzon was responsible for three Gold medal wins, with white wines DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc 2015 and DeMorgenzon Reserve Chardonnay 2015 both winning Gold medals, and DeMorgenzon Maestro Red 2014, a red wine blend, taking the third. Four more Stellenbosch vineyards each received Golds. In the white wine category, Stellenrust 50 Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2014 by Stellenrust Wine Estate, and Tokara Directors Reserve White 2013 by Tokara took home Gold medals. In the red corner, Edgebaston and L’Avenir secured Gold medals for their Edgebaston Syrah 2014 and L’Avenir Single Block Pinotage 2014. A final Gold medal was awarded to Kaapzicht Estate for its Kaapzicht Steytler Pentagon, a blend based on Cabernet Sauvignon.

Saronsberg Cellar from the Tulbagh region of the country secured a trio of Gold medal winners, for two red wines and a white. The reds were Saronsberg Full Circle 2014 and Saronsberg Shiraz 2013, and the white Saronsberg Viognier 2014 also won Gold.

Paul Cluver, from the cool Elgin region, was awarded two Golds, for the Paul Cluver Seven Flags Pinot Noir 2014 and the Paul Cluver Seven Flags Chardonnay 2015, as well as three Silvers and four Bronzes. Proof that the coolest parts of a generally hot climate can make great wines.

Marks & Spencer Graham Beck, The Rhona Blanc de Blancs 2010 was the only sparkling South African wine to win Gold this year. Produced by Graham Beck in the Robertson region, this sparkling Chardonnay is bound to be snapped up by UK shoppers following today’s announcement. The only sweet white to strike Gold this year for South Africa was the Nederburg Private Bin Eminence 2012, made from Muscat à Petits Grains, and produced in Paarl.

Visit the IWC website for the full list of winners:

Charles Metcalfe, Co-Chairman of the IWC, commented: “From the cool region of Elgin down by the south coast to the hot spots of Paarl, we have seen brilliant wines from South Africa this year. Reds, whites, fizz and sweet wines, South Africa is on a roll. And the wines are very reasonably priced. An outstanding year for the Cape!”

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