South Africa’s Top Cape Style Wine Blends


One of South Africa’s unique new successes regarding wine culture and sales are the Cape Blends, which must consist of at least 30% or at most 70% of our indigenous red wine cultivar Pinotage.

To honour these wines, the Perold Absa Cape Blend Competition was launched in 2011 and this year, for the first time, the top five winners out of all the entries have been announced, instead of the top three.

A total of 45 wines from 35 producers were entered and the 2013 Perold Absa Cape Blend Top Five winners in alphabetic order are: Anura LB Cape Blend 2012, Clos Malverne Spirit of Malverne 2011, KWV Abraham Perold Tributum 2011, Sumaridge Epitome 2009 and Viljoensdrift River Grandeur Cape Blend 2011. The winemakers each win a trip to a wine country abroad.

This is the second consecutive year that KWV’s Abraham Perold Tributum is a Cape Blend winner. Since the competition started in 2011, no other producer has produced more than one winner, which is a good indication of the number of top quality Cape Blend wines entered from different areas.

The Anura Cape Blend consists of Pinotage (34%), Merlot (17%), Shiraz (17%), Cabernet Franc (17%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (15%); the Clos Malvern Spirit of Malverne of Pinotage (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (33%) and Shiraz (17%); the Abraham Perold Tributum of Pinotage (30%), Shiraz (40%), Cabernet Franc (15%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (15% ); the Sumaridge Epitome of Pinotage (64%) and Shiraz (54%); and the Viljoensdrift River Grandeur consisting of Pinotage (30%), Merlot (44%), Shiraz (24%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (2%).

The art of winemaking comes to the fore especially with blended wines. This takes place after nature’s soil and climate have created quality grapes through effective vineyard management, after which they are used to produce high quality wines in the cellar. To make the perfect blend means tasting around and evaluating the wines in the vats and tanks and then blending the best combination in the bottle.

According to the chairperson of the panel, Charles Hopkins, the Cape Blend concept is still relatively new and they could pick up some experimental styles during the judging. He is of the opinion that the wines which ended at the top of the list are, however, perfect examples of clean, pure fruit where the cultivar flavours were victorious, and not coffee-style oak aromas.

“It was a privilege to taste the Cape blends with a young panel of winemakers with commercial palates, as well as a Belgian wine writer. There were 45 wines and the finalists stood out. There are two interesting schools among the blends. In the first group the Pinotage was dominant and was more than half of the blend. In the other, the Pinotage was less upfront and made up about 30% of the blend. The wines were from a number of vintages and much is expected of the super 2009 vintage. It is interesting that it was especially the wines of 2011, however, which stood out.

“The top wines are extremely complex and will over time develop into wonderfully soft wines. I predict they will have more ageing potential than some single cultivar wines,” said Charles.

The five runners-up among the ten finalist wines are Flagstone Dragon Tree 2011, Namaqua Cellar Door Pinotage/Malbec 2011, Warwick Three Cape Ladies 2011, Welbedacht Hat Trick 2010 and Windmeul Cape Blend 2012.

The judges were Charles Hopkins, Karen Glanfield, Wilhelm Pienaar, Jacques Roux and Guido Francque.

Caption for photograph:

South Africa’s top 5 Cape Blend wines were announced at the Marine Hotel in Hermanus. Front from left are Lance Bouma (Anura), Johann Fourie (KWV) and Gavin Patterson (Sumaridge). Behind from left are Fred Viljoen (Viljoensdrift) and Suzanne Coetzee (Clos Malverne).


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