South Africa’s oldest wine estate, Groot Constantia, and the renowned Boplaas Estate in the Klein Karoo walked off with the laurels in the wine section at this year’s Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards, the largest drinks competition on the African continent.

Groot Constantia and Boplaas Estate shine in the wine section

Groot Constantia, which has a history dating to 1685, took the Multi Color Corporation Grand Prix award for Top Scoring Wine with the Groot Constantia Chardonnay 2018. Adding to this accolade was the Groot Constantia Shiraz 2016, winner of the Airlink Shiraz Trophy. Groot Constantia also won a double gold medal for its Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, and gold medals for the Shiraz 2017 and the famed Grand Constance 2016 dessert wine.

Boplaas Family Vineyards from Calitzdorp won the Bidvest Bank Top Producer Trophy with an array of its famous dessert wines. Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve 2009 took the Multi Color Corporation Grand Prix award for Top Scoring Dessert Wine. They also took a platinum medal for their Cape Vintage Reserve 2017 and the Heritage White Muscadel 2014.

In the Michelangelo Awards’ Spirits division, African royal and luxury brand Bayede! was awarded the Kuehne & Nagel Top Scoring Spirits Grand Prix for the XO Royal Cape Brandy. Showing it is no one-trick pony, Bayede! also won a platinum medal in the wine department with the 7 Icon Pinotage 2017.

South Africa’s finest wines

This year’s Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards attracted over 2 000 entries. The entries were judged by 24 international and six South African wine and spirits experts, representing 22 countries.

Lorraine Immelman, founder and CEO of the Michelangelo Awards, says the judges were unanimous in their view that South Africa was making the finest wines in its history. These wines are complemented by a diverse and exciting component of top-quality spirits.

“This year’s judges included sommeliers, wine and spirits producers, educators, spirits experts and influential journalists from Europe, the Far East and the Americas. Some of them have judged on numerous Michelangelo Awards panels in the past,” says Immelman.

“The quality of wines are at a noticeable all-time high, with the brandies and other spirits termed world-class in terms of distillation technique and diversity of flavour.”

Eclipsing previous entry standards

This year the judges handed out 25 trophies, 13 platinum medals and 146 double gold medals. “The high number of double gold medals certainly reflects the judges’ comments and the scores which were returned this year,” says Immelman.

“Despite an extra workload due to the number of entries eclipsing the 2 000 mark for the second year in a row, judges were unanimous in agreeing that the standard of entries was the highest it has ever been in terms of both the wine and spirits categories.”

Top wine producers

Among the top wine producers was Perdeberg Winery from Northern Paarl, which raked in one platinum and three double gold medals. Platinum went to The Dry Land Collection Longevity Natural Sweet Chenin Blanc 2017. Gold was awarded to The Dry Land Collection Joseph’s Legacy 2015 (red blend), The Dry Land Collection Resolve Pinotage 2017 and the Rex Equus Chenin Blanc 2014.

Retailer Shoprite Checkers won nine double gold medals for its range of collaborative wines. Under the Odd Bins brand, double gold went to Sauvignon Blanc Bin 232 2019, Sauvignon Blanc Bin 218 2019, Méthode Cap Classique Demi Sec Bin 27, Méthode Cap Classique Demi Sec Rosé Bin 34 2017, Red Blend Bin 959 2018, Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 814 2018 and Red Merlot Bin 515 2017.

Double gold medals also went to Shoprite Checkers’ Backsberg Checkers Colab Shiraz 2018 and Wildekrans Checkers Colab Pinotage 2017.

Top spirits producers

On the spirits side, Procera African Juniper Gin and Pathfinder Rum 2019 won the Gin and Rum Trophies, respectively. Both awards were sponsored by mixer-specialists Barker and Quin.

Blomendahl Vineyards walked away with a platinum award for Roxi’s Botanical Gin. They were also awarded the Best Vodka on Show medal for their Blomendahl Vodka. A total of 124 gins were entered this year – almost double the number of 2018.

Adding value to the South African wine industry

During the Michelangelo awards ceremony, Immelman emphasised the importance of finding added ways of benefiting wine and spirits producers entering the event. For her team it is about adding value through Michelangelo. “Our competition has always been committed to ensuring that producers entering the competition, and the people who follow the lauded wines and spirits, find value in the Michelangelo brand,” says Immelman.

“This is the third year, for example, that the competition has embraced the world’s increasing dependence on technology to bring a world first to wine and spirits competitions.

“The value of the Michelangelo brand is underscored by the sponsorship collaborations with various premier South African and international entities. These include Tsogo Sun, MCC Labels, Airlink, Barker and Quin, Kuehne & Nagel, Bidvest Car Hire, Bidvest Premier Lounges and Bidvest Bank. This has allowed Michelangelo to become a collaborative platform from which to promote South Africa’s magnificent wine and spirits sectors,” concludes Immelman. – Press release, Michelangelo Awards