Momentous start to new Shiraz Challenge

Tuesday, 20 July, 2004
WINE Magazine
The occasion was auspicious for several reasons: it saw the crowning of a champion winemaker in a new category tasting destined to become a significant benchmarking of South Africa's most exciting red wine; the tasting attracted a lot of entries; and it highlighted an impressive
number of distinctive, excellent wines.

The WINE magazine TOPS at SPAR Shiraz Challenge announced its arrival as an event of stature from the outset.
Enthusiasm for the Challenge was immediately obvious, with some 160 wines from the 2001 and 2002 vintages sourced for consideration. Two days of intense deliberations followed, and the best wines matched, if not exceeded the panel's expectations - no fewer than five emerged with a 4½ Star rating, while 16 scored 4 Stars. But there could be only one winner and it was the Simonsig Merindol Syrah 2001 that claimed victory as the country's premier Syrah in the inaugural Shiraz Challenge, earning winemaker Johan Malan a return air ticket to France and R10 000 spending money.
The 2004 champion nudged out the Devon Hill, Cederberg and Eikendal Shiraz - all 2002 vintage - and the 2001 Havana Hills Du Plessis Reserve.
'The results portend momentous things for South African wine. Never before have any of our noble category tastings yielded such a high
percentage of wines of distinction,' commented Challenge chairman Michael Fridjhon. 'By the end of the post-tasting discussion it was quite clear that South Africa's new generation Shiraz wines have the quality and breeding to be top-class ambassadors for the Cape winelands. I can think of no other category that has garnered so many 4 Star and higher scores or shown so few defective or simple wines.'
This latest accolade is further confirmation of Malan's proficiency in the cellar. The winning wine earned double gold at both the Veritas and
Michelangelo Awards last year and the yet-to-be-released Merindol Syrah 2002 garnered a gold medal at the 2004 Fairbairn Capital Trophy Wine Show, this after Simonsig's Kaapse Vonkel Brut '99 won the WINE magazine AMORIM Cork Cap Classique Challenge in 2002.
Established both in recognition of the growing popularity of the varietal and to champion the production of quality examples of Syrah, the
Shiraz Challenge joins WINE's other initiatives - the Chenin Blanc Challenge and the Cap Classique Challenge - in raising the bar for locally produced wine in categories important to the SA wine industry.
The top-scoring wines will be showcased to the public at tutored tastings at the Arabella Sheraton Hotel in Cape Town and the Balalaika Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg, on 27 August and 3 September respectively. The tastings cost R150 a person, inclusive of a light meal. Wine enthusiasts can book by contacting:

Lesley Minnaar
Tel: (021) 530-3201
Email:, or

Tshia Aphiri
Tel: (011) 783-7030

For more information contact:
the managing editor, Mike Froud, at (021) 530 3134, 
or the editor, Fiona McDonald, at (021) 530 3133,

The Simonsig winemaking team with their award.
The Simonsig winemaking team with their award.

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