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KWV and Spier continue consistent run at SA Young Wine Awards

| Wine and liquor

The SA Young Wine Awards recently recognised the finest wines from the 2015 vintage, and local wine producers are reflecting on a very memorable event. This year, the wine community of the Northern Cape rolled out the red carpet for the industry with a glamorous awards dinner hosted at the spectacular Augrabies Falls near Upington. 

The SA Young Wine Awards is the country's oldest wine competition and one of the most highly contested, with a total of 2 163 young wines entered for this year's competition. Prominent Paarl producer KWV stole the show by winning the coveted General Smuts Trophy, which is annually awarded to the best overall young wine, for their Cabernet Sauvignon/ Shiraz blend (wooded).

The KWV also clinched the Pietman Hugo Trophy, awarded to the cellar with the highest marks for entries in five categories, plus three SA Champion trophies. The Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz was crowned SA Champion Red Blend, while the KWV Malbec (wooded) and Chardonnay (wooded) won the trophies for best Other Red Cultivar and Chardonnay respectively.

The performance builds on a remarkably consistent track record the KWV has amassed at the competition in recent years, and chief winemaker Johann Fourie is delighted with his team's efforts. “For us the SA Young Wine Show presents an unique opportunity to benchmark our current vintage wines against their industry peers and to gauge where we stand in terms of quality. It gives us a chance to experiment with different blends and techniques, which is an ongoing process and the results of the competition serve as a good barometer.”

KWV's excellent pedigree with red blends, and in particular Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz, should come as no surprise. These two noble varieties are also the main components of their famous Roodeberg wine. As Fourie aptly remarks, the winemakers have had decades of 'practice' in perfecting the blend.

“Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz have a reputation for complementing each other. The winning blend is fruit-driven and fresh, but also has the kind of depth that will enable it to age beautifully. It is always exciting to witness the evolvement of a great wine from the time it is entered for the competition until it reaches the bottle and beyond.”    

Spier cellar master Frans Smit and his winemaking team similarly underscored their consistency at the competition with national champion trophies for Sémillon and Cabernet Sauvignon (wooded).

Spier repeated their feat at last year's event, where they also produced a SA Champion with their Sémillon, a wine that is earmarked for their highly successful Creative Block 2 white blend. Smit attributes the achievements to the careful selection of specific terroirs, and meticulous attention to detail both in the vineyard and cellar to ensure that exceptional quality fruit is produced.
The champion Cabernet Sauvignon young wine is likewise destined for their top tier wines. Again, he stresses that the utmost respect for the grapes, from the time it is prepared in a site-specific vineyard to careful quality sorting and minimum handling in the cellar, is key to their continued success with this cultivar. 
“For us, the value of the SA Young Wine Awards is twofold – not only does it provide an external evaluation of the cellar's current vintage bulk wines, but it also serves as a sounding board to learn what the rest of the industry is doing,” says Smit. And judging by their stellar performance this year, Spier is certainly setting the bar in terms of quality.

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