SA’s top Cape style blended wines
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Wine lovers around the world know what a Bordeaux red blend is, that classic full-bodied French wine created from a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, Petit verdot, Merlot or Cabernet franc.

South Africa has over the past few years also developed a unique selling point with a well-balanced and structured New World red-blended wine style called the Cape Blend. As should be expected, this Cape Blend refers specifically to having South Africa’s home grown Pinotage, which should make up between 30 and 70% of the blend. This year marks the second annual Perold Absa Cape Blend Competition, only for wines made in this inimitable style.

A total of 42 wines from 33 producers were entered in the competition, from which the judges chose five finalists. And, the top three winners of the 2012 Perold Absa Cape Blend Competition are (in alphabetical order) Beyerskloof Faith 2009, KWV Perold Tributum 2010 and the Windmeul Reserve Cape Blend 2010. The winemakers of each of the three winners have won a trip to an overseas wine region.

The Beyerskloof blend comprises 37% Pinotage, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot and 9% Shiraz; the KWV blend is 36% Pinotage, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Shiraz, 5% Petit verdot, 5% Tannat and 5% Malbec, while the Windmeul blend has 60% Pinotage, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot and 5% Petit verdot.

The two runners-up out of the five finalists were the Grangehurst Nikela 2005 (34% Pinotage, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Shiraz and 8% Merlot) and Lyngrove Platinum Latitude 2011 (40% Pinotage, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Shiraz).   

From this year’s five finalists and the eventual three winners, it was clear that there is a delicious harmony between Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon when they are blended. In all five blends, Pinotage and Cabernet make up more than 60% of the wine.

According to Charles Hopkins, chairman of the panel of five judges, last year’s finalists each had a strong dose of Shiraz in the blend, while this year it was Cabernet Sauvignon that served as the ideal counterpoint for Pinotage.
“We have noticed there are cellars which want to make the Cape Blend their flagship and are still doing intensive testing to reach the finishing line. Pinotage blends well with Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This year’s outstanding wines place emphasis on the structure and fuller body that Cabernet Sauvignon with Pinotage provides. There were very few faulty wines. Expect an interesting growth in the true Pinotage red wine blend and the winemakers playing around with Pinotage and other cultivars are going to deliver many taste experiences,” Charles said.

Serving with Charles on the judging panel were Karen Glanfield, Wilhelm Pienaar, Jacques Roux and Winnie Bowman.

Brienne van der Walt, Managing Executive: Absa AgriBusiness says; “Following the successful inaugural Perold ABSA Cape Blend competition last year, Absa has again this year supported the wine industry through the Pinotage Association to help promote the increase in standards of good quality blended wines from the Cape.
“Absa’s wish is for the competition to grow further and to continue raising interest not only among winemakers but also with wine lovers about a good red blend that is distinctively South African and has plenty of character, balance, good ageing potential, and appeals to a wide audience.” He adds.

The presentation function was held at KWV’s head office in Paarl, in honour of Dr Abraham Perold, who for many years was involved at the company. Dr. Perold created South Africa’s indigenous Pinotage, when he crossed Hermitage (Cinsaut) and Pinot Noir grapes in 1925.



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