After much anticipation following the announcement of the 21 finalists in the 2017 Absa Top 10 Pinotage competition, the Absa Top 10 Pinotage was announced. The presentation of trophies to the winning wine producers at the Cavalli estate outside Somerset West on 3 August commemorated 21 years of Absa Bank’s involvement with the Pinotage Association. The Top 10 laureates in this annual event are among the finest ambassadors of Wine SA, all judged to be masterful expressions of the Pinot Noir Hermitage/Cinsaut cross that dates back to the previous century and includes some from wineries that have triumphed on numerous occasions in the past.

Beyers Truter, chair and founder of the Pinotage Association, is overwhelmed by the expansion of the market for Pinotage and the passion with which winemakers have embraced this grape cultivar over the past two decades. “Our 21-year journey with Absa has been full of many highlights and it is pleasing to see how the bar continues to be raised year after year. One of the objectives in creating the Absa Top 10 Pinotage competition was to improve the quality and perceptions of this lovely, uniquely South African wine and, looking at the standard of the finalists this year as well as the degree to which Pinotage has been embraced, we are definitely on the right track.”

Increase in quality

Truter emphasises just how much the quality of Pinotage wines has increased, particularly during the past decade. He applauds the producers of all the wines included among the finalists for their exceptional commitment and hard work. “Pinotage is a grape that needs special viticultural and winemaking techniques. It can be tough and demanding, but when you get it right, the rewards are astonishing, world-class masterpieces,” he states. Truter went on to thank Absa as the Pinotage Association’s long term “partner in wine” and “a crucial part in the expansion of our beloved Pinotage.”

There were 147 entries in the 2017 Absa Top 10 Pinotage competition, and with around 50% of the 21 finalists from Stellenbosch wineries, it was no surprise that 5 of the eventual winners are from cellars in this district:  Lanzerac, Delheim, Stellenbosch Vineyards, Môreson and Neil Ellis Wines.

The Absa Top 10 this year are wines from both established cellars with solid track records as well as from relative newcomers to the world of Pinotage, all with a common goal in striving to produce the ultimate Pinotage masterpiece.

The winning wines (Best current releases)

  • Delheim Pinotage 2012
    • Wine of Origin (WO): Stellenbosch
    • Winemaker: Altus Treurnicht
  • Diemersfontein Carpe Diem Reserve 2015
    • WO: Wellington
    • Winemaker: Francoise Roode
  • Flagstone Writer’s Block Single Vineyard Pinotage 2015
    • Somerset West Cellar
    • WO: Breedekloof
    • Winemaker: Gerhard Swart
  • Kanonkop Pinotage 2012
    • WO: Simonsberg, Stellenbosch
    • Winemaker: Abrie Beeslaar
  • Lanzerac Pionier Pinotage 2014
    • WO: Jonkershoek Valley in Stellenbosch
    • Winemaker: Wynand Lategan
  • Lanzerac Pionier Pinotage 2015
    • WO: Jonkershoek Valley in Stellenbosch
    • Winemaker: Wynand Lategan
  • Môreson MKM 2015
    • Franschhoek Cellar
    • WO: Stellenbosch
    • Winemaker: Clayton Reabow
  • Neil Ellis Bottelary Hills Pinotage 2015
    • WO: Stellenbosch
    • Winemaker: Warren Ellis
  • Stellenbosch Vineyards Bushvine Pinotage 2015
    • WO: Stellenbosch
    • Winemaker: Abraham de Villiers
  • La Cave Pinotage 2016
    • Wellington Wines
    • Winemakers: Francois van Niekerk & Chris Smit
  • Windmeul Pinotage Reserve 2015
    • WO: Paarl/Coastal
    • Winemaker: Abraham van Heerden

Museum class trophy

For the first time in the history of the competition, this year producers were invited to also submit entries in a Museum Class specifically for older wines – 10 years and older. As expected, these proved how top Pinotage fulfils the promise of great maturation potential, with a trophy presented for the top example on the tasting bench.

The winner is the Neil Ellis Vineyard Selection Jonkershoek Pinotage 2007. The runners up were Neethlingshof Pinotage 1999, Rijk’s Reserve Pinotage 2007 and Lanzerac Pinotage 1992. -Press release


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