What a fantastic level of interest in the annual Absa Top 10 Pinotage competition! Now in its 24th year, the competition attracted 149 entries from all the wine regions of South Africa. Despite periods of prohibition imposed by the government during lockdown, industry participation in the Absa Top 10 is only slightly down in 2020. Absa Top 10 Pinotage is one of the most sought-after South African wine accolades. For some top producers, it is the only Pinotage competition they enter every year.

Regular Absa Top 10 Pinotage laureates Rijk’s Wine Estate in Tulbagh and Beyerskloof of Stellenbosch fared particularly well this year with more than one finalist each. Most of the other wineries in the running to win a trophy are also no strangers to the podium. The panel of judges was: Cape Wine Master and panel convenor Winnie Bowman, Tsogo Sun sommelier Georgio Meletiou, Spier cellar master Frans Smit, wine writer Fiona McDonald, and viticulturist Solly Monyanane, a protégé judge in 2019.

Top-quality wines on the menu

Pinotage Association chairperson Beyers Truter is delighted with the quality of the wines. He is also impressed that they come from all over the Cape Winelands. Eight of the recent releases are from Stellenbosch, and two each from Durbanville, the Swartland and Tulbagh. Paarl, Robertson, Walker Bay, Wellington and Worcester are also represented.

Eight of the Absa Top 10 Pinotage finalists are from the 2018 vintage, but there are also wines from 2019. Older vintages from 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014 also make an appearance. Finalists in the growing Museum Class for wines that are at least ten years old are from the Breedekloof, Stellenbosch and Tulbagh. The oldest wine among them is made from grapes harvested in 2007.

Tina Playne, managing executive of sectors and segments at Absa Retail and Business Bank, reiterated the group’s commitment to the Pinotage Association. “Our relationship has spanned 20 years and it has been a privilege to be part of the development and growth of this uniquely South African varietal. Our continued partnership is vital to support South Africa’s position on the global wine map,” she added.

Meet the Absa Top 10 Pinotage finalists

The Absa Top 10 Pinotagecompetitionfinalists are listed below, and the winners will be announced at the end of September. Details will be announced and depend on COVID-19 lockdown regulations.

Absa Top 10 Pinotage finalists

  • Aan de Doorns Pinotage 2018 (Wine of Origin [WO]: Worcester, Winemakers: Chris van Deventer and Chris Geldenhuys).
  • Anura Signature Pinotage 2017 (WO: Simonsberg-Paarl, Winemaker: Stander Maass).
  • Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage 2016 and 2017 (WO: Stellenbosch, Winemaker: Anri Truter).
  • Beyerskloof Pinotage Reserve 2017 (WO: Stellenbosch, Winemaker: Anri Truter).
  • Conradie Family Vineyards Pinotage 2019 (WO: Western Cape, Winemaker: CP Conradie).
  • Delheim Vera Cruz Pinotage 2016 (WO: Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, Winemaker: Roelof Lotriet).
  • Diemersdal The Journal Pinotage 2018 (WO: Durbanville, Winemaker: Thys Louw).
  • Durbanville Hills Collectors Reserve Pinotage 2017 (WO: Durbanville, Winemaker: Wilhelm Coetzee).
  • The Glen Carlou Collection Pinotage 2019 (WO: Swartland, Winemaker: Johnnie Calitz).
  • Kaapzicht Pinotage 2018 (WO: Stellenbosch, Winemaker: Danie Steytler).
  • Pulpit Rock’s Brink Family Vineyards Pinotage 2018 (WO: Swartland, Winemaker: Dewald Huisamen).
  • Rijk’s Reserve Pinotage 2015 (WO: Tulbagh, Winemaker: Pierre Wahl).
  • Rijk’s Private Cellar Pinotage 2014 (WO: Tulbagh, Winemaker: Pierre Wahl).
  • Simonsig Redhill Pinotage 2018 (WO: Stellenbosch, Winemaker: Michael Malan).
  • Spier 21 Gables Pinotage 2017 (WO: Stellenbosch, Winemaker: Johan Jordaan).
  • Springfontein Single Vineyard Jonathan’s Ridge Pinotage 2016 (WO: Walker Bay, Winemaker: Tariro Masayiti).
  • Viljoensdrift River Grandeur Single Vineyard Pinotage 2018 (WO: Robertson, Winemaker: Fred Viljoen).
  • Wellington Wines’ La Cave Pinotage 2018 (WO: Wellington, Winemaker: Francois van Niekerk).
  • Windmeul’s The Legend Collection Pinotage 2018 (WO: Paarl, Winemaker: Abraham van Heerden).

The Icon Vintage Class category received great interest again this year, with some exceptional wines making the shortlist.

Icon Vintage Class finalists

  • Flagstone Writer’s Block Pinotage 2008 (WO: Breedekloof, Winemaker: Gerhard Swart).
  • Kanonkop Pinotage 2009 (WO: Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, Winemaker: Abrie Beeslaar).
  • Neil Ellis Vineyard Selection Pinotage 2010 (WO: Jonkershoek Valley in Stellenbosch, Winemaker: Warren Ellis).
  • Rijk’s Reserve Pinotage 2007 and 2010 (WO: Tulbagh, Winemaker: Pierre Wahl).
  • Rijk’s Private Cellar Pinotage 2010 (WO: Tulbagh, Winemaker: Pierre Wahl).

For more information, visit the Pinotage Association’s website at www.pinotage.co.za. – Press release, Pinotage Association