Keimoes Cellar was announced Grand Champion Cellar for 2013 for the second year in a row, winning awards for Best White Cultivar (Colombard), Best White Blend (Colombard/Chenin Blanc), Best Red Cultivar (Shiraz), Best Red Blended Wine (Shiraz/Petit Verdot) and Best Matured Wine (White Muscadel), while Keimoes winemaker Rianco van Rooyen was awarded the trophy as Champion Winemaker.
The runner-up in the champion winemaker category was George Kruger of the Kakamas Cellar.
The other three remaining trophies were won by Kruger for his best Classical Wine (White Muscadel), Awie van Wyk of Keimoes with the trophy for runner-up in the single vineyard wine (White Muscadel) and Dirk Malan of Keimoes with the trophy for the Best Single Vineyard wine (Shiraz).
For this annual highlight in the winemaking calendar, winemakers from Orange River Cellars’ five wineries – Upington, Groblershoop, Grootdrink, Kakamas and Keimoes - each make wines especially for the competition. This year 30 wines were entered into the finals. Of these 11 were red wines, one muscadel, seven whites and one medium class viognier.
Altus Theron, Orange River Cellars Chief Production Officer, described the uniqueness of these awards as team work and unbridle enthusiasm from al the wine makers. “The Spar/Orange River Wine Competition is a healthy competition amongst cellars and winemakers. This is the highlight of the year at Orange River Cellars where winemakers are recognized for their long hours and hard work from harvest season until the wines are presented for the competition. This competition is also a reflection of the teamwork from the vineyard to where the wine is made and the different wine making processes used.
“Earlier this year we decided on a set of core values for Orange River Cellars and the following can be seen in our winemakers and the wine that they make, enthusiasm, positivity, commitment and teamwork. By using these values together with inputs from Spar, fine wines are made and improved on a regular basis,” he said.
Van Rooyen attributed his success to team work. “We focussed on all aspects of the production process, from the vineyards right through the cellars and all the different stages – nothing was left to chance.
“We have great team and the p assist from the very start in the vineyards. The grapes had a slightly higher Ph value than in previous seasons, providing a great feeling in the mouth and I think this was part of the winning recipe.
“Of all the varietals the one that really stood out was the shiraz produced by Dirk Malan. A part of his vineyards is higher than the rest, producing grapes with a higher intensity of flavours,” Van Rooyen said.
Guy Webber, Stellenzicht winemaker and one of the judges, said the Orange River area has rich variety of flavours and intense colours that no other wine region in South Africa has. “A general comment is that this area is too far away from the wine lands of the Cape – places like Stellenbosch and Constantia. There is no need for this to be a problem. The terroir of the Orange River wine region produces high quality wines, in some cases even better than those from the more ‘traditional’ wine making areas.
“Winemakers in this area should concentrate more on producing there own style of wines. There quality is on par with the best of the other regions and they have the added benefit of high yields without having to sacrifice quality. They are part of the South African wine industry and can be proud of the quality they produce,” Webber said.
Mark Robinson, CEO of Tops at Spar, is impressed by the results of this year’s competition. “The Orange River wine region continues to deliver exceptional quality grapes, with the added benefits of this region’s healthy yields allowing Spar to offer wines of terrific value to the consumer,” says Robinson.
“This competition, a unique one to honour the winemakers in Orange River Cellars various regions, aims to inspire winemakers to really show what this region can deliver in terms of exciting wines of stupendous quality. This year has seen the winemakers creating another set of extraordinary wines from the regions’ different terroirs and we at Tops at Spar are proud to play a role in highlighting the tremendous potential of this region as well as the skill of its winemakers.”
The judging panel for 2013 comprised of Tinus van Niekerk, Neil Pendock, Fiona MacDonald, Nomonde Khubeka, Joaquim Sa, MD of cork company Amorim, Abé Beukes, cellar master of Darling Cellars and Guy Webber from Stellenzicht.