National Wine Challenge Double Gold Awards 2023

Wednesday, 7 June, 2023
For wine lovers on the lookout for awarded wines of great quality, this category of fine wine in the National Wine Challenge is perfect!

Robin von Holdt reviews Double Gold awards for the National Wine Challenge 2023

Double Gold Awards are offered as a premium recognition, to wines that perform at a very high standard.  These winning wines offer characteristics that are really very fine and are a pleasure to enjoy and share with friends and family.  The medals are granted to a serious core of winners, that have each performed at an extremely high level.  The  judging of this category is a serious task. It is undertaken by the panels of judges and chairs, themselves committed  to identifying a particularly smart and appropriate range of commendable winning wines. The same high standard of  rigorous criteria is applied to assess each and every potential winner. The organisation and the logistical support of the NWC is tightly managedto achievethe highest performance levels. Best practice is consistently applied across the board for the benefit of every entered wine. These positive outcomes are based upon and reflect meaningful and accurate assessments.

To wine lovers  on the lookout for awarded wines of great quality, this highly regarded category of fine wine is the perfect range for you! Documented research world-wide endorses conclusively the fact that when a Double Gold winner label adorns a wine bottle, price becomes less  relevant, given the guarantee of great quality. It is a tremendously important category for producers given the market size. This year there was yet again a narrow gap between achieving Double Gold status and achieving Top 100 status. A number of Double Gold winning wines are really very close in quality to those achieving Top 100 status. This is, without any shadow of doubt, a high quality ranking.

These winning wines offer delicious qualities and showcase complexity and balance.  They are available for your immediate and serious enjoyment. Many of these awarded wines can also be enhanced by medium term cellaring. Double Gold winning  wines typically reflect regional character, varietal typicity and many of them show a definitive sense of place.  

The judge’s viewed these Double Gold winning wines announced today as extremely fine examples of their cultivar or their blend category. Each winning bottle demonstrates the  great care taken in vineyard practices, to bring ripe, high quality fruit into the cellars. They also showcase the application of skilled, focussed, cellar work. Often too, they are so much the better for light-handed interventions, wines with finesse. The fine results speak for themselves.

This category was once again a realistically small percentage of all the fine wine entries received. Considerably less than last year. Just 111 wines gained the prestigious Double Gold Award in the 2023 NWC.  The allocation of final scores for all the winning wines is a result of rigorous tasting, assessment and debate. The judges were firm yet fair in their assessment. Re-tasting is common practice to ensure free and fair outcomes.  When compared to international competition guidelines these results are absolutely appropriate and generally demonstrate a conservative approach.

We now offer our sincere congratulations to all of the cellar teams, winemakers and vineyard helpers involved. Each contribution made during this process aided and helped the winning wine entry, to successfully gain the judge’s approval and achieve these substantial Double Gold Awards in this year’s NWC. They are a truly significant commendation. Well done on this praiseworthy achievement.  It is something to be justifiably proud about – a time now to celebrate!

Wine lovers are going to be very, very happy with these 111 winning wines.

We also share at the end of this press release, judges’ own comments and thoughts on the actual wine flights tasted.

Significant Double Gold award winners

  • Alvi's Drift Private Cellar (9)
  • Van Loveren Family Vineyards (8)
  • Groot Constantia Wine Estate(5)
  • Fairview Wines (6)
  • Painted Wolf Wines (4)
  • Paul Cluver (4)
  • Boplaas (3)
  • Holden Manz (3)
  • Jordan Wine Estate (3)
  • Rietvallei Wine Estate (3)
  • Stellenbosch Vineyards (3)

2 wins each: Babylonstoren, Beck Family Estates, Blaauwklippen Vineyards, Bon Courage Wine Estate, Cape Wine Company, De Krans, De Wet Cellar, Diemersfontein Wine Estate, Doolhof Wine Estate, Dornier Wines, Fairview Wines, Jason's Hill Private Cellar, La Motte, Koelenhof Winery, Landskroon Wines, Napier Vineyards, Nicholson Smith Agencies, Oak Valley Estate, Opstal Wines, Paul Wallace Wines, RAKA, Ridgeback Wines, Villiera Wines, and Vrede en Lust.

Winners share their comments

Alvi's Drift Private Cellar (9)

Riaan Marais, general manager: "The Double Gold awards received for our wines represent the remarkable performance of our dedicated team at Alvi's Drift. It is their expertise and commitment that bring these outstanding flavours to life. We take great pride in crafting wines of the highest quality, and these accolades are a testament to our unwavering pursuit of excellence."

Groot Constantia (5)

Jean Naude, winemaker: “To have five wines with Double Gold achievements, in addition to the three wines achieving Double Platinum, is a bonus that emphasizes the versatility of this famous and historic Estate”.

Paul Cluver (4)

Paul Clüver Jnr, managing director:" The real joy in the Double Gold results was the recognition accorded two of our Pinot Noir wines, which together with Chardonnay lies at the heart of Paul Clüver Family Wines’ focus and our wine ethos. Top-scoring Pinot Noirs at illustrious wine competitions such as these underscore my belief that this is becoming a great South African wine category, within which Paul Clüver is honoured to be a leader."

Holden Manz (3)

Gerhard Holden, co-owner: "Holden Manz Chenin Blanc 2021. Not the first time our chenin blanc has picked up with this award says Gerard Holden, Co-Owner of Holden Manz!  Made from Old Vine Project bushvine vineyard planted in 1982, spontaneous fermentation, 20% barrel fermented and 6 months on the lees.  Very special wine from a unique vineyard in the Simonsberg-Paarl appellation. 

Holden Manz Proprietors’ Red Blend 2016
Crafted from Holden Manz estate grown cabernet sauvignon and syrah this 50:50 blend is our nod to new world winemaking.  C0-Owner Gerard Holden believes this wine shows off the best of our cabernet and syrah.
Holden ManzVisionaire 2018. The Visionaire red blend is the core of our range.  Looking back to an era when the Bordelais brought in syrah from the Rhone Valley to boost the strength of their own wines the Visionaire brings syrah to add some spice to a typical Bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot.  I enjoy the blending process for the Holden ManzVisionaire as it give our wine making team the ability to fully express their creativity said Gerard Holden, Co-Owner of Holden Manz.

Jordan Wines (3)

Kathy Jordan, co-owner: “We are proud to have our wines recognised and to receive multiple awards once again this year.  To have 5 wines selected to be in the Top 100 is already a wonderful reward for the team’s hard work; to also receive 3 Double Gold awards and a Double silver award is the cherry on the top.  Thank you for this recognition in what has been a couple of very hard years in the wine industry both locally and internationally."

Rietvallei (3)

Kobus Burger, CEO & winemaker: "We feel deeply honoured and proud to receive all these awards from The National Wine Challenge 2023.  It is so rewarding to achieve four Platinum which include a Grand Cru National Champion Best in Class and three Double Gold and two Double Silver. Also, most pleasing is the recognition this holds for the Robertson wine region. A big thank you for this acknowledgement by the organisers and tasting panel and also to my team, from the farm workers to management, without whom this would never have been possible."

Stellenbosch Vineyards (3)

Senior winemakers, Abraham de Villiers & Bernard Claassen: "We are thrilled to have received double gold for our Stellenbosch Bushvine Pinotage 2022,
Limited release Chenin Blanc and our limited release Verdhelo. We take pride in our rare cultivars, and it is incredible to see them recognized with these prestigious awards."

Blaauwklippen (2)

Narina Cloete, winemaker: "Blaauwklippen Malbec 2021. Malbec is getting traction worldwide as one of the upcoming cultivars for style and superb quality.  We at Blaauwklippen are extremely proud of our Malbec 2021 and the following and traction this Cultivar is gaining for us.
Blaauwklippen Blush Rose 2022
The Blaauwklippen Blush Rose 2022 was made to following the very classy dry rose trend.  But we used some unconventional cultivars to compose this blend namely Zinfandel (69%) and Malbec (31 %). 

De Krans (2)

Christoff de Wet, winemaker: "Last but not least, Double Gold for both the Tinta Roriz 2020 and our Tawny Ltd Release NV! The dedication of our cellar team and the consistency of vineyard practices definitely reflects in the wine."

De Wet Cellar (2)

Ters Jonck, winemaker: "The Chardonnay 2022 is the brainchild and one of our producer’s projects to plant Chardonnay 900m above sea level near Touws River on the edge between the Klein Karoo and the Koo. This wine accentuate its terroir, and subsequently extending our diversity of terroirs.  We are  very proud winning yet another accolade for one of our Chenin blanc’s. Our team at De Wet is always aiming to over deliver on quality when it comes to Chenin Blanc. Achieving an accolade is very satisfying and rewarding for us!" 

De Krans (2)

Christoff de Wet, winemaker: "Last but not least, Double Gold for both the Touriga Nacional 2020 and our Tinta Roriz 2019! The dedication of our cellar team and the consistency of vineyard practices definitely reflects in the wine."

Doolhof (2)

Gielie Beukes, winemaker: "Through dedication and belief, we strive to maintain consistency in establishing Limietberg as one of the premium wine growing wards in South Africa. Being the only producer in this ward does make it more challenging so we celebrate the smallest victories as well! "

Dornier Wines (2)

Francois Theunissen, general manager: "Dornier’s Cocoa Hill range of wines continues to live up to its reputation of extraordinary value for money. We are elated by the commendation received through the awarding of Two Double Gold Medals for these wines this year."

Jason's Hill Private Cellar (2)

Ivy du Toit, winemaker & 6th generation of the family: "We are delighted to receive a Double Gold Award for our Arrois Cap Classique 2018, which is our first Cap Classique, and the first 100% Chenin Blanc Cap Classique produced in the Breedekloof Valley! This just proves that the Breedekloof Valley is suited for producing world class Chenin Blanc!"

Landskroon (2)

PDV Reserve
The Paul de Villiers Reserve is the result of the meticulous blending by the winemakers, using five different cultivars to create an exceptional wine.

PDV Cabernet Sauvignon and PDV Merlot
Great examples of what can be achieve with the cultivars Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot – an expression of the continued striving for excellence.

Napier Vineyards (2)

Hanlie Schönborn, assistant winemaker: "We are humbled & pleased with this latest achievement by our Red Medallion Bourdeaux style blend 2018 & Klein Louis Sauvignon Blanc 2022 (Double gold  winning) wines. Thanks to our dedicated vineyard workers & cellar team through to the administrative staff, we are able to craft world-class wines."

Nicholson Smith Agencies (2)

Jason Neal, Owner: "A great thanks to the tasting panel for recognizing the continued hard work we have put into these wines. My thanks must also go towards my wine making team who continue to produce great quality wines and to be chosen against such strong opposition make all the hard work worth it."

Paul Wallace Wines (2)

Bobby Wallace, winemaker: "In the undulating Elgin topography, identifying and matching the various cultivars to the perfect site is what viticulturist Paul Wallace is master at.  Here we have two different styles of wine, each requiring individual vineyard and cellar regimes. Both the Brave Heart Pinot Noir and the Crackerjack, our Bordeaux blend comprised of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec have  been awarded Double Gold Medals.  The diversity displayed by these two wines, both playing to their own strengths, is what  makes the Elgin Valley both exciting and rewarding."

RAKA (2)

Elna Dreyer: "Receiving an award for the Raka Quinary& Southern Treasure is proof that what we think about the wines are true, always been  showstoppers and stealing hearts and taste buds all round!"

Ridgeback (2)

Toit Wessels, winemaker: “The Ridgeback Team is delighted at the accolades received for the 2023 NWC Top 100 Competition with 2 x Double Gold awards in addition to the 3 x Double Platinum awards. Our aim is always at consistency throughout our range which is proudly highlighted in this fine competition.”

Villiera Wines (2)

Nathan Valentine, Villiera still wines:  When it comes to red wines, Merlot is a focus for Villiera.  Monro is a family name given to Villiera's Reserve Merlot.  The Clan comes from a special block of Cabernet Franc that has produced a number of award winners.  With the attention to detail devoted to these 2 wines it is rewarding to see them consistently awarded by the National Wine Challenge. 

Allee Bleue

Van Zyl du Toit, winemaker: "We are over the moon with the recognition of our Isabeau Chardonnay 2021 under this year`s Double Gold awards. As this is only the second vintage of this fine wine, I`m sure this is just the beginning of great things to come in the future of this wine.

Almenkerk Wines

Joris van Almenkerk, cellarmaster, Almenkerk Wine Estate: “The National Wine Challenge is always held professionally with quality judges from all fields. We are happy to see our wines consistently do well here. The Almenkerk Chardonnay 2020 is a real gem.”

De Wetshof

Johann de Wet, CEO De Wetshof: "De Wetshof’s Limestone Hill, an unwooded Chardonnay, has garnered an enthusiastic following and is one of SA’s most popular Chardonnays. This Double Gold medal underscores the commitment of quality De Wetshof pursues, together with creating an accessible, delicious and tasty Chardonnay offering true enjoyment to the consumer."

DTK Wines (Du Toitskloof)

Ed Beukes, Marketing & Export Manager: "This wine continues to make waves under the radar. It was awarded the South African Sauvignon Blanc Trophy at IWC in London and brought home the Michelangelo Sauvignon Blanc Trophy last year as well. Two trophies in one year - I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this stunning Agulhas Wine Triangle Sauvignon Blanc."

Ken Forrester Wines

The name was inspired by music, by bands such as the Gipsy Kings and Fleetwood Mac’s aptly named ‘Gypsy’:“And it all comes down to you
Well, you know that it does, well
Lightning strikes maybe once, maybe twice
Oh and it lights up the night
And you see your gypsy
You see your gypsy.”
 - Fleetwood Mac

Ken Forrester, owner: “A very concentrated, focussed blend with layers of deep fruit. The character is expectedly somewhat “wild” a little brambly with hints of nutmeg, cinnamon, dark spices, with vanilla scents and a distinct, concentrated red-fruit focus. Great for laying down and keeping for at least ten years but already rewarding if allowed to breathe in a decanter.”

Leipzig Winery

Vian Bester, winery manager: "This is our existential wine, a blend that is connected to history by a series of lovely stories.  This decadent rich wine is composed of three cultivars sourced from different areas of the Western Cape Province."

New Cape Wines

Christiaan Groenewald & Jacques Groenewald:"We are honored to receive a Double Gold award for our latest Arendskloof Wooded Chardonnay in this prestigious competition, as it reaffirms that we are delivering consistent good quality, consumer focused Chardonnay."

Oak Valley Wines

Oak Valley Groenlandberg Chardonnay 2022
Little over 30 years ago Elgin was seen as South Africa’s prime apple growing region, today it’s one of the most exciting terroirs in the new world with a track record of excellence for Chardonnay. Our Oak Valley Groenlandberg Chardonnay is a fine example of our cool climate, with bright citrus, fresh acidity complimented by delicate use of French oak.

Perdeberg Wines

Albertus Louw, production manager: “With many South African consumers facing the reality of a continuous rise in the cost of living, it is our privilege to provide great wines that overdeliver in quality at their given price. We are pleased to be recognised by the experts and receive a double gold award for our popular Perdeberg Soft Smooth White 2023. This accolade recognizes the hard work, dedication and passion of our winemaking team to create wines that appeal to every consumer’s palate."

Rickety Bridge

Donovan Ackermann, winemaker: "The Foundation Stone Rose has always been one of our popular wines throughout the range. Its crafty and quirky packaging always catches the eye, and with the wine inside we over deliver on quality. The 2023 vintage has been one to remember, and you can taste all the layers of flavours in this Rhone driven rosé wine."

Saronsberg Cellar

Daniela Jansen, winemaker: "Winning the Double Gold Medal for the Saronsberg Seismic is an achievement. It is a reflection of the meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail that goes into creating this Tulbagh Origin, Bordeaux style wine. We are thrilled to see it recognized and celebrated for its remarkable quality and distinct character."


Christiaan Nigrini, winemaker: "With great determination comes high reward. We are utterly proud of the accolade that our Merlot 2021 received. We as Welbedacht will build on this and keep on creating phenomenal wines that truly expresses itself in the bottle."

Comments below from various judges

Chardonnay: A lovely line-up of wines. Pleasing to see no over-oaking. The unwooded had lovely fruit and leesy weight. The wooded majority showed poise, elegance & integration; some offering minerality notes with pleasing length & character. Watch this space!!

Chenin Blanc comment: A delightful flight of wines with personality & expressions. The unwooded wines had beautiful clarity & poise. The wooded – generally well-integrated and a light hand. Most exciting was a missing “sameness” and a real splash of individuality – good fruit, some minerality and breadth.

Pinotage comment: A delightful flight of wines. A couple of bombs of overripe fruit & big oak but on the whole better fruit, alcohol & oak management. Delightful elegance & poise achieved.  Better integration of big fruit & oak with others.  

Merlot comment: Colours were great – not too pale, no browning but a large number of the wines were over-extracted, tannic & trying too hard. Such a pity as the approachability & suave tannins were missing as well as the more plummy fruit.

Shiraz comment: A large flight that clearly showed the vintages of 2021 in the vineyard against the quality of 2020, which had some excellent examples. In general true to varietal expression, not many used whole bunch. The 2021’s showed quite a bit of reduction, bacterial issues. Oaking in general was well-managed. 

Sweet comment: What a joy! Both modern and classic styles represented and both excellent in their expressions. We loved the purity of clarity of the fruit when it came with complexity & richness of the style when it came with lifting acid. Please keep making these wines!

MCC & Sparkling comment: The vintage MCC stood out for their complexity, sense of place and refinement. These top wines showed a fabulous balance of fruit intensity and delightful notes that led to complexity, especially where acidity framed the top wines. Some of the Rosé’s showed more sugar enhanced red fruits – that detracted. 

Cabernet Sauvignon comment: Generally good consistency.  Pleasing was the fruit expression being allowed to shine without the domain of oak or over-extraction. A pleasing flight with a few top wines!

Bordeaux Blend Red comment: A stronger than expected flight. Clearly the 2020 shone with its expressive, open fruit, fine-grained tannin and subtle power. The 2018’s are developing nicely as they unfurl and grow complexity.

Cape Blends comment: A surprisingly lower performing flight, a lack of sensitivity of blending, oaking regimes and a re-emergence of those, bitter, charcoal, shoe polish notes of days gone by.

Other White Cultivars comment: The Rieslings stood head and shoulders, with an Alsace style, above the other white cultivars. One Viognier captured the restrained and ripened yet creamy undertone, being more peach blossom than the blowsier styles of yesteryear.

Sauvignon Blanc comment: The 2022 seem to be coming on nicely with ripe fruit and integrated acidity. The top wines gave freshness, lime, flower, texture and layered fruit. A full spectrum of balanced Sauvignon Blanc, without an acid kick. 

Other White Blends comment: This flight shows the super potential of Cape White Blends and the magic that comes from blending Chenin & Chardonnay.  Making them engaging, interesting and cerebral. 

Other Red Cultivars comment: A challenging flight with quite a few tannic wines that didn’t have the fruit. Some Grenache showed well but the Cab Francs searching for their sweet spot.  A keen balance between red-fruited nature of the grape without being too herbal or lean. Malbec’s were more honed and polished. 

Rosé comment: Mixed bag. One semi-sweet which was actually pleasing in contrast to some of the sharp acidities. Three were more straw coloured than onion-skin.  A number could have done with a bit more fruit expression. Two stand-out wines offered delightful strawberries on the nose and fruit on the palate but retaining a fresh crunch on the mid-palate. 

Other Red Blends comment: A disparate flight where the best wines showed focused blending, understanding and good balance, wherein the weakest showed thrown together and were not totally balanced. 

Pinot Noir comment: A pleasing flight – not overblown & overworked as in the past. Elegance & finesse, more fruit purity & poise than sometimes in the line-up. Tannins present and in check, not too overripe or vegetal.

Red Rhone Blends comment: The top examples were expressive, lovely red fruits & spice reflecting Rhone character.  Wine making supporting rather than dominating – kudos.  Not so in the case of poorer version wines where the human influence was more negative.

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Robin Von Holdt
Robin Von Holdt

Riaan Marais
Riaan Marais

Jean Naude
Jean Naude

Paul Clüver Jnr
Paul Clüver Jnr

Gary & Kathy Jordan
Gary & Kathy Jordan

Kobus Burger
Kobus Burger

Abraham de Villiers
Abraham de Villiers

Bernard Claassen
Bernard Claassen

Narina Cloete
Narina Cloete

Christoff de Wet
Christoff de Wet

Ters Jonck
Ters Jonck

Francois Theunissen
Francois Theunissen

Ivy du Toit
Ivy du Toit

Bobby Wallace
Bobby Wallace

Elna Dreyer
Elna Dreyer

Joris van Almenkerk
Joris van Almenkerk

Donovan Ackermann
Donovan Ackermann

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