Judging has been completed, preparations for the awards function at Cavalli Estate in Somerset West on 15 August are in full swing and wine lovers are looking forward to seeing which of their favourites among the Top 20 finalists are considered by the panel of experts to be the best of the best in the 2018 Absa Top 10.

The Absa Top 10 Pinotage trophy is one of the most sought-after accolades for cellarmasters, winery proprietors and wine brand marketers in South Africa, and this time around a record number of 161 entries were received by the competition organisers.  Neil Ellis, proprietor of Neil Ellis Wines chaired the team of experienced palates who deliberated at the judging venue of Nederburg in Paarl, together with wine educator Nomonde Kubheka, wine maker Francois Haasbrook, wine writer Samarie Smith and Francois Rautenbach, wine buyer for Singita Premier Wine Direct.

Of the Top 20 in the main competition, now in its 22nd year, seven wines are from Stellenbosch cellars, and two are made in Franschhoek using grapes from Stellenbosch. Four of the wineries have excelled with each having two of their wines selected for the final round of judging: Diemersdal of Durbanville, Kaapzicht and Kanonkop of Stellenbosch, as well as Môreson of Franschhoek. Also interesting is that two of the wines originate from Breedekloof, and one from Worcester.

A class for Museum Class wines was introduced in recent years, and here too the finalists include the names of producers famous for top class Pinotage. The finest wines from the variety continue to show the extent of their longevity and to prove their potential to benefit from bottle-maturation.

It’s been rewarding for the Pinotage Association that members are producing wines of exceptional quality and interest in many of the districts and wards throughout the Cape winelands. Association chairman, Beyers Truter and fellow industry veterans are proud of how Pinotage has grown in stature over the past few decades – to the extent that some of the leading expressions of the variety are commanding over R600 a bottle, and even over R1000 a bottle, as consumer demand continues to climb.

Absa Top 10 Pinotage finalists:

  • Allée Bleue Black Series Old Vine Pinotage 2016
  • WO Piekenierskloof (Franschhoek cellar), Winemaker Van Zyl du Toit
  • Alvi’s Drift Reserve Verreaux Pinotage 2015
  • WO Worcester, Winemaker Alvi van der Merwe
  • Badsberg Pinotage 2017
  • WO Breedekloof, Winemaker Henri Swiegers
  • Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage 2015
  • WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Anri Truter
  • Diemersdal Pinotage Reserve 2017
  • WO Durbanville, Winemaker Thys Louw
  • Diemersdal Pinotage 2015
  • WO Durbanville, Winemaker Thys Louw
  • Fairview Primo Pinotage 2016
  • WO Paarl, Winemaker Anthony de Jager
  • Flagstone Writer’s Block Pinotage 2016
  • WO Breedekloof (Somerset West cellar), Winemaker Gerhard Swart
  • Kaapzicht Steytler Pinotage 2015
  • WO Bottelary-Stellenbosch, Winemaker Danie Steytler
  • Kaapzicht Pinotage 2016
  • WO Bottelary-Stellenbosch, Winemaker Danie Steytler
  • Kanonkop Pinotage 2013
  • WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, Winemaker Abrie Beeslaar 
  • Kanonkop Pinotage 2015
  • WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, Winemaker Abrie Beeslaar
  • KWV The Mentors Pinotage 2016
  • WO Darling (Paarl cellar), Winemaker Izele van Blerk
  • Lanzerac Pionier Pinotage 2015
  • WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Wynand Lategan 
  • Lyngrove Platinum Pinotage 2016
  • WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Danie van Tonder
  • Meerendal Heritage Block Single Vineyard Pinotage 2016
  • WO Cape Town, Winemaker Liza Goodwin
  • Môreson The Widow Maker Pinotage 2015
  • WO Stellenbosch (Franschhoek cellar), Winemaker Clayton Reabow
  • Môreson The Widow Maker Pinotage 2016
  • WO Stellenbosch (Franschhoek cellar), Winemaker Clayton Reabow
  • Rijk’s Reserve Pinotage 2014
  • WO Tulbagh, Winemaker Pierre Wahl
  • Wellington Wines Duke of Wellington Pinotage 2017
  • WO Wellington, Winemaker Francois van Niekerk

Museum Class Finalists 

  • Grangehurst Pinotage 2008
  • WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Jeremy Walker
  • Kanonkop Pinotage 2006
  • WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, Winemaker Abrie Beeslaar
  • Lord Neethling Pinotage 2003
  • Neethlingshof, WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker De Wet Viljoen
  • Neil Ellis Vineyard Selection Pinotage 2008
  • WO Stellenbosch, Winemaker Warren Ellis
  • Rijk’s Private Cellar Pinotage 2008
  • WO Tulbagh, Winemaker Pierre Wahl

Willie Zastron, Absa’s provincial head Business Banking, Western Cape wished the finalists all the best and said that Absa is proud to have been part of the Pinotage journey for the last 22 years.   He said, “We have confidence in the new generation of South African winemakers who are working hard to increase the prestige and sophistication of wines produced in South Africa.” – Press release