Results : National Wine Challenge / Top 100 SA Wines 2016

Friday, 29 April, 2016
Lisa Hagedorn
The National Wine Challenge incorporating Top 100 SA Wines, the major fine-wine-only event in SA, launched the much anticipated 2016 winning wines results on the 28th April.

Top wineries, their wine makers and partners celebrated their victories at Spier Estate in Stellenbosch.  The hallmark jazz band, canapés and a superb array of top wines framed the awards certification ceremony.  The serious matter of tasting winning wines upped the laughter and high spirits when the Top 100 / Double Platinum winning wines were unveiled.

On the up yet again, well over 500 of SA’s top wines were entered from a record number of wineries.

Overall this category enjoyed a total of thirty one Top 100 victories.  Both Chardonnay and a superb flight of Bordeaux Blends each gained seven winning wines.  Chenin Blanc was down somewhat with a total of four top positions.  Sauvignon Blanc struggled again this year, gaining only two wins.  However Fortified (three) and Natural Sweets (two) showed superbly. Other White Blends gained three top podium spots.

This category enjoyed sixty three podium slots.  Shiraz again led the pack with a most credible sixteen victories, one up on last year.  Cabernet was also on the up with ten top spots.  Bordeaux Blends were down with only 5 victories this year, the same number of wins for Rhone Blends.  A lovely Merlot showing tied with Pinotage on four wins for each.  Pinot Noir was down with a total of three wins, a similar number shared with the ‘Other Blends’ category.  Port was superbly represented with two brilliant wines making the grade. A similar winning number was enjoyed by delicious Muscadels.

A really fine showing, these categories gained six top slots.

RATIO OF ENTRIES TO WINS - Top 100/Double Platinum awards
The ratio of winning wines to entries proved very interesting.  For red wines, around 18% of entries gained Top 100 status.  For white wines it proved more difficult with only 12% cracking the big nod.
Fierce competition prevailed and it proved once again just how difficult it is to achieve this sought after fine-wine award.

ROBIN VON HOLDT reviews the success of the rebranded NATIONAL WINE CHALLENGE (NWC) 2016, now incorporating the Top 100 SA Wine Challenge:
‘We are thrilled with the ever increasing support given to us by so many of SA’s leading vineyards.  Clearly there is significant respect for the professional way that the team goes about its business of supporting and promoting fine SA wines.  The 2016 Challenge puts us solidly and successfully into our sixth year and many of these relationships now extends over the full six year term.  The results are very well balanced this year, really brilliant wines, indicating that the growing and very tough competition makes it just that much harder for any wine, cultivar, blend or vineyard to show really strongly en masse.  Interest levels are high and a number of new vineyards entered the 2016 NWC for the first time. The quality of judges, the protocols and the brand continue to influence positively.  The powerful and unique APP now showcases SA’s fine wines in over 50 countries.  We will continue with passion and hard work to shine the light on and promote SA’s finest.  Our warm thanks go to all supporters and our special congratulations go of course to all 2016 winners, of whom there are record numbers. Under the revised NWC strategy there are additional merit awards for high scores, resulting in a new Double Gold and Double Silver Award categories.’

The following vineyards were major winners in the 2016 National Wine Challenge /Top 100 Challenge:
Spier (6) | Creation (5) | Conradie Penhill (4) | Fairview  (4) | Graham Beck (4) | Jordan (4) | Rustenberg (4) | Longridge (3) | Nuy (3) | Paul Cluver (3) | Saronsberg (3) | Simonsig (3) | UniWine (3) | 

GRAND CRU  AWARDS  - ‘Best in Class’ flight award winners per cultivar or blend
Jordan Wines (3)

  • Jordan Cobblers Hill 2013
  • Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
  • Jordan Chardonnay barrel fermented 2015

Creation Wines (2)

  • Creation Syrah Grenache 2014
  • Creation Reserve Merlot 2014

Fairview (2)

  • Spice Route Grenache 2014
  • Fairview Nurok 2015

Nuy (2)

  • Nuy 2006 Wit Muskadel 2006
  • Nuy Legacy Celinne MCC N/V

Paul Cluver (2)

  • Paul Cluver Seven Flags Pinot Noir 2013
  • Paul Cluver Dry Encounter Riesling 2015

Almenkerk (1)

  • Almenkerk Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Bellingham (1)

  • The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2015

Boplaas (1)

  • Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve 2013

Conradie Penhill (1)

  • Conradie Family Vineyards Friederich Conrady MCC 2009

Graham Beck (1)

  • Graham Beck Brut Rose 2010

Groot Constantia (1)

  • Groot Constantia Grand Constance 2013

Klein Constantia (1)

  • Klein Constantia Estate Red 2014

Longridge (1)

  • Longridge Wine Estate Die Plek Cinsault 2015 

Oldenburg (1)

  • Oldenburg Syrah 2013

Raats (1)

  • Raats Family Cabernet Franc 2013

Rooiberg (1)

  • Rooiberg Winery Pinotage Reserve 2014

Saronsberg (1)

  • Saronsberg Viognier 2015

Shannon (1)

  • Shannon Semillon 2015

Simonsig (1)

  • Simonsig Frans Malan Cape Blend 2014

Tokara (1)

  • Tokara Director's Reserve White 2014

Spier’s Cellarmaster Frans Smit was delighted:  (6 wins.)
‘The result is amazing for us and is a great reflection of the dedication and understanding of the viticulturist and wine making team.  They truly have a deep understanding of each individual block, managing them with care during the ripening season.  Similar care is applied to crafting the wines during the winemaking stages. All these wines are very individual and are being made every year from the same blocks for many years, confirming the importance of terroir in consistently creating top class wines.
The two 21 Gables Wines are both single vineyard wines, from two unique terroirs. The Chenin Blanc is from a very old dry land vineyard that has shown tremendous consistency over the past decade. The Pinotage is from a cool climate area which gives the grapes long hang time, allowing grapes to ripen slowly for optimum flavours.
The two Creative Block wines have been an absolute and total success story since the start of the range nine years ago. These two wines are examples where we use the best vineyards in order to create a blended wine that fully reflects absolute complexity and balance, only possible when the sum of the whole is worth more than the very fine parts that make it up.
The two Woolworth wines were made with grapes from Darling – a region which consistently offers extraordinary terroir for Cabernet Sauvignon. It is wonderful to see our focus on this varietal bearing fruit.’

Creation Marketing Director Carolyn Martin shared: (5 wins; 2 best in class.’)
'We are privileged that we are able to cultivate a number of different cultivars on our Estate. This is due to having a long ripening window and planting virus free vineyards on 450 million year old ancient bokkeveld shale derived clay loam soils. The cool night index and our proximity to the cooling breezes from the Atlantic Ocean also affect the ripening and allow for optimal picking time without the stress of late summer heat waves, for example, the average mean temperature on a 24 hour period during February 2016 was 20.01 degrees Celsius.

We are discovering and experimenting in viticulture and winemaking innovation daily and are therefore excited about the opportunities that our terroir allows us in producing quality wines which interest wine appreciators and connoisseurs. Incremental improvements in quality and consistency are what we are working on constantly. We are grateful and delighted to have such good feedback!'

Jordan’s Gary Jordan offered his reflections: (4 wins; 3 ‘best in class.’)
'After almost a quarter century of winemaking, consistency and world class quality define our style at Jordan Wine Estate. Being in control of one’s destiny is a lot easier when one has a really strong team. Right now we have the strongest team we’ve ever had and are therefore able to raise the bar in every aspect of our business.

Accolades like these reaffirm that we’re on the right track, with older vines and a profound understanding of our terroir enabling us to ensure the ultimate Synergy between Soul and Soil.'

Fairview owner Charles Back was well pleased: (4 wins; 2 ‘best in class.’):
'It is not often when a plan comes together. We have always focused on Rhone and Mediterranean varieties, regularly utilising them in blends. It is very rewarding to see these wines consistently doing well in this competition.
We currently have eight winemakers in our team of which of four are ladies and the benefit of the feminine touch has a lot to do with our recent successes.'

Conradie Penhill Artisanal Wines CEO  CP Conradie was enthusiastic: (4 wins; 1 ‘best in class.’)
'We are extremely proud to receive the NWC / Top 100 2016 awards bestowed on us by your esteemed judges. This is the first time that we have entered this competition and we are, to say the least, over the moon. These results confirm that our philosophy of making quality-driven wines through innovative and experimental techniques combined with achieving a high level of consistency is paying off. Above all, I love making wines that I personally enjoy drinking and achieving these prestigious awards whilst doing this is a very rewarding added bonus!'
Pieter Ferreira of top rated Graham Beck Wines quotes:  (4 wins; 1 ‘best in class.’)
‘Wow! Continued success of the Graham Beck team in the National Wine Challenge 2016! I am so thrilled that we can play yet another significant part of this year’s Top 100, particularly since Graham Beck had 6 wins in the 2015 Challenge. We are extremely proud that our Cap Classique is on the radar of excellence in this important National Wine Challenge. The consistency and continuity of our Cap Classique’s form the base of our continued journey…’ in search of the perfect bubble’. I know there was once again an exceptionally competitive level of fine wines entered and Graham Beck is happy to be recognised.’
Rustenberg’s Murray Barlow was really happy: (4 wins.)
'Rustenberg has entered the Top 100 since the competition's inception without missing a year. We only enter wine competitions that are judged by industry experts, be they local or international, and should our wines do well the result should mean something both to our trade partners and the end consumers. The Top 100 is both expertly judged and has an increasing following in both local and export markets and we consider it a must enter competition as a result.
The showing at the 2016 Top 100 Competition affirms the standing of our top wines as South African benchmarks while at the same time highlighting the value and quality of our entry level products.'

Paul Cluver’s MD Paul Cluver shared positively:  (3 wins; 2 ‘best in class.’)
'It is a great honour to be recognized for our wines.  It is the result of our team’s commitment to crafting excellence from the unique Elgin terroir and our sustainable viticulture ethos of allowing the wines to portray our soils and climate.'

Nuy Winery‘s wine maker Christo Pienaar celebrates their historic recognition: (3 wins; 2 ‘best in class.’)
'Nuy Winery has won three top awards at the NWC/Top 100 SA Wines competition for their Nuy 2006 Wit Muskadel, Nuy 2010 Red Muscadel and Nuy Legacy Celine MCC.
We stand proud of our award winning Muscat’s and even more so of our maiden Legacy Celine N/V MCC.  In conjunction with MCC specialist Melanie van der Merwe, we tried our hand at this speciality and the Celine was the product of our collaboration.  The name Celine gives credit to a widowed farmer from the Nuy Valley.'

Saronsberg’s Dewaldt Heyns shared his own thoughts: (3 wins; ‘1 best in class.’)
'Being part and having our wines do consistently well at the Top 100 the last few years is a testimony of the entire Saronsberg team’s ceaseless effort to make wines of distinction as judged by respected MW’s. To have our Viognier nominated as best in class is especially rewarding as we have put a tremendous amount of effort into refining our grape growing and winemaking efforts to establish it as one of the finest examples of this cultivar in SA.'
Simonsig’s Johan Malan  was  upbeat: (3 wins; 1 ‘best in class.’)
'It is with great excitement that we heard of the achievements of three wines in the Malan Family Selection range, our Flagship wine Tiara, Redhill Pinotage and the Frans Malan making it into the Top 100 again. Last year these three wines, of the previous vintage, also made it in the Top 100. To have the Frans Malan 2014 Cape blend being crowned as the best in class trophy winner is just the cherry on top.  The Simonsig team is so proud and grateful of this repeat performance as it shows consistency in the quality that we work on so hard to maintain. To have the quality of Simonsig wines recognised in blind tasting competitions by an international panel means so much more than the ratings of the wine guides who do sighted tastings.'
Longridge Cellarmaster Jasper Raats was very pleased: (3 wins; 1 ‘best in class.’)
'We are so thrilled with the results the National Wine Challenge 2016, where all eight our wines entered, receive an award. This includes three wines winning Double Platinum/Top 100 status. To cap it, my new soon-to-be-launched Cinsault, achieved a ‘best in class’ Grand Cru award. It is also very special that our Chenin Blanc made the top 100 a second time in a row!'
Klein Constantia MD Hans Astrom notes: (2 wins; 1 ‘best in class.’)
'Having a best in class for the Klein Constantia Estate Red at the 2016 South African Top 100 is obviously a great achievement to be very proud of. Not only for our team that have worked very hard the last years but also for the region of Constantia.  Which certainly shows that it has a potential to make not only great sweet and white wines, but also some world class red wines.'
Shannon’s James Downie writes: (2 wins; I ‘best in class’.)
'This Top 100 award affirms that cool climate Elgin delivers quality across the varietal range. We are thrilled to have participated in the Top 100 this year as we believed that we had a winner with our Semillon 2015. Elgin is slowly creating a reputation for its Semillons and we are delighted that the judging panel recognised this quality in our cool climate grapes.
 2015 is proving to be one of the best Pinot Noir vintages from the cool climate Elgin region. We are delighted that the Top 100 results support this recognition and that from this superb vintage our own Rockview Ridge Pinot Noir stands out. This award bears testament that our terroir still delivers in a very competitive vintage and category.'


UniWines Vineyard’s Nicolaas Rust, Group Cellar Master, was thrilled: (3 wins)
uniWines Vineyards are extremely proud of our dedicated and talented winemaking team for their exceptional achievements in the National Wine Challenge. Their artistry has truly shone through with the top quality Daschbosch wines they have produced - wines that celebrate the Breedekloof valley and the unique terroir she holds. Congratulations!
Rooiberg winemakers André van Dyk and André Scriven: (2 wins; 1 ‘best in class.’)
'As a first time entrant winning Double Platinum/Top 100 status for two wines and then to cap it  all, achieving a  ‘best in class’ Grand Cru award for our Pinotage.  This is an absolute  fantastic result for us as winemakers. It  is all about dedication, starting in the vineyards then harvesting,  and lastly selecting  the best grapes for our very best barrels. We then taste, blend and plan to ensure the wine showcases the best us winemakers can make, always ensuring  that the wine has our own  personal touch. We  aim to create a product that we can be proud  of and enhance our terroir and serves as a true showcase of our pedigree and passion. This recognition is both humbling and exciting for our team.'

Kings Kloof, Richard Newton-King: (2 wins)
'Kings Kloof is something of an illusion remaining mysteriously out of sight from Somerset-Westers.  Only 11 ha of this 72 ha farm is under vines including Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Shiraz and Merlot.
Kings Kloof is a proud long term grower for Spier and it’s Spier’s winemaking team that in turn, make our wonderful wines.  We are very proud that our wines have performed well in this benchmark competition.'

Consistency is the key underpinning factor for all fine wine anywhere in the world.  South Africa is no exception.
We will shortly be releasing these results as a separate press release as they make their own fascinating story.
Similarly to the point made above, we will devote a separate press release on the subject of vineyard consistency together with wine consistency. 
Stay tuned; more information will be shared at a later moment!
Dr Jamie Goode judging chairman concluded:
‘The National Wine Challenge/Top 100 celebrates its sixth birthday this year and I’m proud to have been involved with the competition from the start. The fact that many of my fellow judges have track record of similar length speaks volumes for the professionalism of the event and the unique and compelling tasting approach. It goes without saying that all the wines in Top 100 are tasted blind. This means that I have no idea which wineries entered, or whose wines were selected.’  What I can tell you is that they are really very good indeed and worthy winners.’

The National Wine Challenge / Top 100 SA Wines is recognised as the leading fine-wine awards brand both in SA and abroad.  It enjoys massive Google ratings.  Its APP is the most internationally active device on fine SA wine now used in 50 countries. The brand enjoys front page ranking in all key searches as well as enjoying a fast-track international digital footprint.  This is tremendously useful for winning vineyards, helping them to win a larger and growing share of sales and of brand awareness in the competitive global arena.

For a full list of winning wines please click here

For further information please contact