Diners Club Winemaker of the Year finalists announced

Wednesday, 30 October, 2013
Supplied by Hanlie Roets
The finalists of the prestigious Diners Club Winemaker of the Year are Christiaan Groenewald (New Cape Wines), Mary-Louise Nash (Black Pearl), William Wilkinson (Wildekrans Wine Estate), Johan Malan (Simonsig), Johan Jordaan (Spier Wines) and David Finlayson (Edgebaston).

The finalists of the prestigious Diners Club Winemaker of the Year are Christiaan Groenewald (New Cape Wines), Mary-Louise Nash (Black Pearl), William Wilkinson (Wildekrans Wine Estate), Johan Malan (Simonsig), Johan Jordaan (Spier Wines) and David Finlayson (Edgebaston).

This year’s category for the Winemaker of the Year is non-Bordeaux red blends and the winner will be announced at a black tie gala dinner at the La Residence Hotel in Franschhoek on November 30, 2013. The event will be attended by a veritable who's who of South African wine, including leading personalities of the industry, Diners Club guests and finalists. The six finalists are competing for the celebrated title of Diners Club Winemaker of the Year as well as two return tickets to San Francisco, home of the premium wine-growing region of Northern California. The Winemaker will also receive an allowance of R50 000.

Now in its 33rd year, the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year is regarded as the country’s most well-respected wine industry competition. The awards recognise the art of making fine South African wines and celebrate the experts behind the wine-making process.

About the finalists:

Mary-Louise Nash started Black Pearl Wines in 2001, and the wines are still made and bottled in the vineyard by the women of the family and their local all-female team. Mary-Louise entered the BLACK PEARL ORO 2012 in this year's competition. It has dark red berry fruits with cherries and plums in the front with spice and liquorice following. Rich and full in the mouth with big structure, yet fine balance. Firm but supple tannins. Will reward well with a few years in the cellar.

William Wilkinson farms in the Bot River Valley where a unique fynbos character is discernable in the estate's red wines. His WILDEKRANS CAPE BLEND BARREL SELECT RESERVE 2011 has an attractive, ripe dark berry nose with gorgeous perfumed notes in the background; rich and creamy in the mouth with supple tannins. Developing all the while with nuances of raspberry and mulberry appearing with some time. Lots of potential over the next six to eight years.

Johan Malan's family have been vintners since the first Huguenot Jacques Malan arrived in the Cape in 1688. Johan has entered the SIMONSIG THE SMV 2012 in this year's award. It features cherry, liquorice, vanilla, coffee and a smidgeon of anise. A wave of lavender and dark rose fills in the background. Deep, rich and full in the mouth with flavours following what the nose advertises. Great balance and lively texture. Fine, supple tannins. Robust but elegant. Long, sustained finish. Everything still in very youthful mode with loads of potential to develop.

David Finlayson has been making wine for 20 years and entered the EDGEBASTON THE PEPPER POT 2012. The nose is packed with ripe berries and hints of fynbos and black pepper. Ripe plum, mulberry and hints of prune with massive lavender backing. Hints of herb and vanilla. Big, full-flavoured mouth with great, ever-developing, complexity. Firm but supple tannins and excellent balance. Well-managed oak is there in support. Very drinkable now, but will reward with a few more years of cellaring.

Christiaan Groenewald entered the wine industry as a manager at a wine export company before building a cellar on Welgemoed in 2003 and starting to produce wine. His ARENDSKLOOF TANNAT SYRAH VOETSPORE 2011 features in this year's Diner's Club competition. The wine has a distinctly different nose packed with ripe plum, prunes and hints of treacle and anise; rich red berry fruit with dark rose in the background. Dark chocolate is there with hints of vanilla and cinnamon; some tarry tones emerge at the edges. Firm tannins give great grip in a full, ripe-fruited mouth. Great depth of flavours follow the nose with the addition of clove and dark cherry. Beautifully managed oak. Long finish and loads of potential.

Johan Jordaan is a previous Diners Club Winemaker of the Year winner, having taken the title in 2011. He entered the SPIER CREATIVE BLOCK 3 2010 with its super-attractive nose that leaves no doubt its components are from the Rhône. Dense, ripe red berry and black fruit with hints of liquorice and lavender. Rich and full in the deep mouth where all the ripe berry flavours are well offset by some dark chocolate. Super, supple tannins and great balance. Well-judged oak. Picks up momentum in the mouth with palate becoming more concentrated and powerful. Worth watching its development well into the future, yet very attractive now.

Caption: Clockwise on the picture is Mary-Louise Nash, Christiaan Groenewald, Johan Malan, William Wilkinson and David Finlayson.

Photographer: Johan Wilke

Stylist: Candice-Lee Kannemeyer

Hair and Make-up: Candisty Lundall

Clothing: Stuttafords (female); Carducci (male)