The victors in the 7th Shiraz Challenge have been decided. The top wines in the annual competition were singled out in Paarl this week, putting them among South Africa’s most desirable wines.
Hosted by cultivar association Shiraz SA, the illustrious awards function took place on Thursday May 16 at Ashanti Estate. The event saw some of the country’s best recognised while guests could sample the 25 single-cultivar wines and six blends that made it to the finals.
The 12 Shiraz champions for 2019 are:
- Babylonstoren Shiraz 2017
- Bellingham The Bernard Series Basket Press Syrah 2016
- Driehoek Shiraz 2017
- Driehoek Shiraz 2016
- Flagstone Dark Horse Shiraz 2015
- KWV Cathedral Cellar Shiraz 2016
- Neethlingshof Shiraz 2015
- Quoin Rock Shiraz 2015
- Rhebokskloof Black Marble Hill Syrah 2016
- Kruger Family Reserve Shiraz 2016 (Stellenview)
- Strandveld First Sighting Shiraz 2017
- La Cave Shiraz 2017 (Wellington Wines)
The winning Shiraz blends are:
- Alvi’s Drift Albertus Viljoen Bismarck 2017
- Babylonstoren Babel 2017
- Eikendal Charisma 2017
KWV is also recognised with a special award this year. The company has had a winner in the competition for seven consecutive years.
Commenting on the quality of entries, panel convenor Dr Andy Roediger said the continued pace of year-on-year improvement had impressed the judges. “The wines across the board were of improving quality and it appears the winemakers have got their wood regime right.
“Very few wines were heavily oaked, a tendency which is being moved away from. It appears that oak from East Europe is overtaking a preference for American, which has resulted in more spicy Shiraz styles.
“The latest vintages have a sweeter fruit tone to them. The wine styles are more approachable at an early age. The wines are elegant, showing fruit purity with balanced oaking,” said Dr Roediger, a Cape Wine Master who has chaired the Shiraz Challenge panel for six years.
The esteem of the competition was again revealed by the fact that wines from every region were entered. A total of 207 wines participated in the championship this year. Of these, 36 were blends – a category added to the competition in 2014.
Single-cultivar wines that made the final assessment were: Allee Bleue Black Series Syrah 2015; Alleé Bleue Shiraz 2016; Antonij Rupert Syrah 2014; Cederberg Shiraz 2017; De Grendel Shiraz 2017; De Grendel Shiraz 2016; Glen Carlou Syrah 2017; Tamboerskloof Syrah 2015 (Kleinood); Lomond Estate Syrah 2015; Spencer Bay Shiraz 2012 (Namaqua Wines); Oldenburg Vineyard Syrah 2015; Constitution Road Shiraz 2015 (Robertson Winery); and Stellenview Reserve Shiraz 2016.
The importance of the competition is reflected in the scale of Shiraz as a contributor as a job creator and to the country’s economy. Shiraz is among South Africa’s most widely planted varieties with the country being one of the biggest global growers too.