French Wine Investors Give Stellenbosch a Pink Valley

A new French-South Africa wine venture focussing exclusively on the making of classic rosé wines on the slopes of Stellenbosch’s renowned Helderberg wine region was launched this week with the first vintage of Pink Valley Rosé 2019. The Pink Valley property incorporates nine hectares of vines, the Pink Valley Restaurant and a winery, the only in South Africa built and used exclusively for the making of rosé wines.

Pink Valley is owned by Oddo Vins & Domaines, a French wine company belonging to father and daughter Pascal and Lorraine Oddo, with wine ventures in Provence and Sancerre (France), Rioja in Spain and in Sicily. In investing in Pink Valley, the Oddos partnered with their compatriot and wine investor Bertrand Otto, whose knowledge of the global wine industry and special love of the Cape winelands encouraged them to invest in South Africa.

Continue reading

Newsflash: Best Young Sommelier Hails from Banana Country

Laurie Cooper, Best Young Sommelier.

Laurie Cooper has been crowned Moët & Chandon Best Young Sommelier 2019. At age 28, she is the winemaker and sommelier at Abingdon Wine Estate in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, the first family-owned estate to produce wines from the province. Together with her father, she runs all the viticulture and viniculture on the 4 hectare estate.

Continue reading

Diemersdal Snaps-up Eighth Absa Top 10 Pinotage Trophy

Mari Branders, Diemersdal winemaker with the 8th Absa Top 10 Pinotage Trophy.

Durbanville wine estate Diemersdal staked a place as one of the most successful producers in the history of the annual Absa Top 10 Pinotage Trophy awards by this year raking in its eighth Top 10 trophy. The Diemersdal Pinotage Reserve 2018 was selected as one of the Top 10 winners in this year’s prestigious competition, which was held for the 23nd time attracting 161 entries.

“The Absa Top 10 Pinotage Trophy is one of the most sought-after red wine trophies for any South African winemaker, and winning it for the eighth time is a true privilege and honour,” says Thys Louw,” owner-winemaker at Diemersdal, which was also the only Durbanville winery to win a Top 10 this year.

“It just feels better each time you hold one of these trophies, an award you don’t take for granted. The number of quality Pinotage producers is increasing at a rate of knots as more winemakers discover the magical qualities of the grape and its ability to express the sites of our country’s best wine regions.

“Winning an Absa Top 10 in this environment of quality wines makes it very special. I’d like to congratulate every other Trophy winner, finalist and entrant for what they are doing to make Pinotage an extraordinary red wine category which is one of the showcases of the South African wine industry.”

Pinotage has a long history in Durbanville and on Diemersdal specifically. Some 50% of the grapes for the Diemersdal Pinotage Reserve 2018 originate from the property’s 44 year-old bushvines, the balance sourced from vines 20 years younger.

“Dryland farming on clay and shale soils and the maritime influence all add to the structure of the wine which is characterised by a formidable backbone complemented with bright fruit expression,” says Louw. “We aim for sturdiness in the wine, but elegance and refinement are non-negotiable.”

After harvesting the grapes were fermented in one ton open wood-fermenters for four days at 26-28ºC. The cap was punched through every three hours. 100% MLF completed spontaneously in 225L French oak barrels. Wood maturation was done over 16 months, also in 225l French, of which 60% was new.

“The cellar and vineyard teams have embraced Pinotage as one of Diemersdal’s key red varieties, and it is their understanding of the grape from the vine to the bottling of the final wine that enables us to make a Pinotage showing true quality,” says Louw. “And more importantly, this eighth Absa Top 10 Trophy has shown the quality to be consistent.”


Yorkshire’s Finest Putting Oemf into South African Wine Education


Successful WSET Level 2 graduates celebrate receiving their certificates and pins. L to R from back: Zola Williams, Angelo van Dyk, Barry Scholfield. Middle rows: Herman Jordaan, Harry Ravelomanantsoa, Chantelle Swanepoel, Celeste Munge, Esme Groenwald. Front rows: Richard Barnett, Grant Michels, Sune Eksteen (WSET Lecturer), Jude Mullins AIWS (International Business Development Director for WSET), Cathy Marston AIWS (WSET lecturer), Isobel Odendaal.

?+¦-+?+¡Personally, I’d like to learn a lot more about wine. But the few wine courses I have attended here and in Burgundy have ended in tears, harassment, pain and expulsion and that was before the tasting side of the programme started.

Continue reading

PR for Tulbagh

Tulbagh Wine Cellar's new team, Hugo Lambrechts (viticulturist) and Naud+¬ Bruwer (production manager), examine bunches of grapes from the different regions, which this year will be harvested and fermented separately.
Tulbagh Wine Cellar's new team, Hugo Lambrechts (viticulturist) and Naud+¬ Bruwer (production manager), examine bunches of grapes from the different regions, which this year will be harvested and fermented separately.

I have decided to give the Tulbagh wine region a punt. Beautiful area, great wines and any place that has survived an earthquake has a story to tell. So, thanks to ML Communications for a lekker release.

Tulbagh Winery has this year appointed a new production manager and a fulltime viticulturist, namely Naud+¬ Bruwer and Hugo Lambrechts, with a new strategy for the cellar in mind. There are seven distinctly different wine growing areas on which their members farm and they intend to vinify each area’s wines separately, with an emphasis on creating top quality wines.

The seven areas are Tulbagh, Halfmanshof, Riebeek, Porterville, Piketberg, Dwarskersbos and Berg River. Each cultivar from every region will be harvested separately, individually fermented and the final product will be kept in separate tanks for evaluation. Previously all cultivars from the same region were harvested together and the best wine was not necessarily bottled, but sold in bulk.

This new production team was created in order to professionally coordinate with the wine farmer-members for picking grapes at the correct ripeness and selecting the best cultivar from each region. Production manager, Naud+¬ Bruwer, was a winemaker at the Boland Cellar until the end of last year and had a hand in many of that cellar’s international and domestic awards over the past few years. Hugo Lambrechts, previously winemaker at Porterville Cellar, is now the fulltime viticulturist.

“With the 2010 harvest and the new team, quality is being refined and the first step is to prepare the regional wines individually. Each wine out of every region will then be carefully tasted to select the best of the tanks for blending in Tulbagh Winery’s bottled range,” Naud+¬ explained.

Besides Naud+¬ Bruwer and Hugo Lambrechts, the wines are also tasted by two other Tulbagh Winery winemakers, Johnny King and Jurgen Gouws, as well as two independent wine-producing experts. The final tank selection is thus not left to just one person.

“Each region has its own terroir, differ quite considerably and each offers something different. At Dwarskersbos, for instance, there are vineyards which are a mere 800m from the sea, while in other areas there are different soil types against mountain slopes, some of which face in various directions and so are affected differently by wind and sun.” said Hugo.

“It looks as though the shiraz is going to provide an outstanding harvest. This variety was least affected by downy mildew this year and even when fermentation was first started you could already pick up the lovely ripe aromas and deep red colour. Uneven ripening of the sauvignon blanc crop, on the other hand, made the decision about when to pick difficult ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ even within the same vineyard. The wines, none the less, show lovely tropical fruit, asparagus, citrus and fig aromas, while tropical fruit is predominant in the chenin blanc wines. We will, however, only be able to evaluate the wines in finer detail come April,” said Naud+¬

Windmeul’s Winning Way

Windmeul Vat waterSM

Windmeul Cellar in the past three months totally rose to the fore with an array of wine awards, as a top performer at the 2009 Veritas Awards with two double gold medals and one gold medal, an Absa Top 10 Pinotage winner, five gold medals at Michelangelo International Wine Awards, two Diamond trophies at the Winemaker’s Choice Awards, four stars at WINE magazine’s Shiraz Challenge, the favourite wine of the consumers’ tasting at the Paarl Shiraz Challenge and the Chardonnay Champion of the Paarl region at the SA Young Wine Show.
It really is an exceptional achievement for one wine cellar to receive so many top accolades in such a short time. In addition, the Windmeul Pinotage Reserve 2008 this year was the only wine that received both an Absa Top 10 Pinotage Trophy and Double Gold Veritas Award, and it also was the only Pinotage that received a Diamond Trophy at the 2009 Winemakers’ Choice Awards.
With the recession that still lingers, the creative team at Windmeul Cellar decided to open a monthly farm market at this historic wine cellar’s wine centre on the northern slopes of Paarl Mountain. The opening takes place on Saturday 7 November and coincides with the 2009 Windmeul Waterblommetjie Festival and the potjiekos competition with waterblommetjies as the theme. Fresh products including meat, jam, olive, olive oil, cheese, vegetables, freshly baked bread, honey and eggs can be purchased directly from the supplier, whilst the Windmeul range of wines is available in the tasting venue.
A total of 25 teams will participate in the potjieskos competition and the judging is done by a panel of experts, with special prizes being awarded to the best dishes. Music, airplane flour bombs, a wine tent and cash bar will create the atmosphere.
This is a renewal of the cellar’s history. The mill to which Windmeul owes its name was erected between 1884 and 1890 in the open area to the West Coast to receive enough wind, and today this cool area is utilized as a prime wine growing terrain. Some of the first grapes were planted by the French Huguenots. The windmill then was the centre of the economic activity in that area, but after a devastating storm in the early nineties and the economic recession after the Boer War, the windmill ceased production. Today Windmeul Cellar keeps it alive.
For more information on the opening of the Windmeul Farm Market and the Windmeul Waterblommetjie Festival, and to enter for the potjiekos competition, call 021 869 8100, e-mail or visit

Veritas Results

Frans Smit, show me the money!
Frans Smit, show me the money!

Spier Wines reigned supreme at the 2009 Veritas Awards last Saturday. The well-known Stellenbosch winery clinched five double gold and half a dozen gold medals at the annual gala-awards dinner, sponsored by Agri-Expo, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).

Other top achievers in the double gold and gold rankings were Nederburg Wines (2 double gold, 5 gold), Fleur du Cap (2 double gold, 2 gold), Boplaas (2 double gold, 3 gold), Ernie Els Wines (2 double gold, 1 gold) and Windmeul Cellar (2 double gold, 1 gold).

Anura, Cape Point Vineyards, Diemersfontein and Guardian Peak also shone with two double gold medals each.

Of the total 1 728 entries,, 40 (2%) won double gold, 109 (6%) gold, 444 (25%) silver and 676 (39%) bronze medals.


Spier Wines continued their Veritas triumph of recent years with double gold medals for their 2007 Private Collection Chardonnay, Private Collection Pinotage and Private Collection Shiraz. Their 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve and 2007 True to Terroir The Hutton Cabernet Sauvignon wines under the Woolworths label also achieved double gold status.
Gold medals for the 2006 Spier Private Collection Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007 Spier Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007 Lesebo Pinotage, 2007 Woolworths True to Terroir Koffie Klip Merlot, 2008 Spier Private Collection Chardonnay and 2008 Woolworths True to Terroir The Abacus Chardonnay completed their sterling performance.

Nederburg winemakers took yet another a bow on the Veritas podium, winning double gold for the 2007 Nederburg S+¬millon Noble Late Harvest Private Bin and 2007 Nederburg Private Bin R181 Merlot. The 2007 Nederburg Private Bin R121 Shiraz, 2008 Nederburg Private Bin D252 Sauvignon Blanc/S+¬millon, 2008 Nederburg Eminence Private Bin, 2008 Nederburg Winemasters Reserve Noble Late Harvest and 2009 Nederburg Private Bin D234 Sauvignon Blanc garnered gold medals.

Double gold honours went to Fleur du Cap for their 2006 Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Merlot and 2007 Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon. Their 2007 Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest and 2007 Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Merlot won gold medals.

Boplaas reaffirmed their position as the country’s Port masters with double gold for their Boplaas Cape Tawny (non-vintage) and 2006 Boplaas Cape Vintage plus gold for Boplaas Cape Tawny Vintners Reserve (non-vintage) and their 2004 Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve. The 1997 Boplaas Cape Tawny Reserve Port clinched a gold award in the Museum Class.

Ernie Els Wines proved their mettle with double gold for the, 2005 Ernie Els Limited Release and 2007 Engelbrecht Els Proprietors Blend as well as gold for the, 2007 Ernie Els Cirrus Syrah.

Windmeul Cellar flew the Paarl region’s flag at Veritas with double gold for the, Windmeul Cape Blend and Windmeul Pinotage Reserve plus gold for Windmeul Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ all 2008 vintage.

Red blends lead in the double gold medal stakes with six awards, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon (5), Merlot (5), Sauvignon Blanc (5), Pinotage (4), Muscadel (3), Chardonnay (2), Shiraz (2), Port (2), Chenin Blanc (1), S+¬millon (1), Noble Late Harvest (1), M+¬thode Cap Classique (1). The Museum Class yielded two double gold awards for Noble Late Harvest (1) and Dessert wine (1).

The highest number of gold medals were awarded to Merlot (13), followed by Cabernet
Sauvignon (11), Chardonnay (10), Red Blends (9), Muscadel (9), Chenin Blanc (8), Shiraz (8), Sauvignon Blanc (8), Pinotage (7), White Blends (5), Dessert Wine (4), M+¬thode Cap Classique (3), Colombar (2), Noble Late Harvest (2), Port (2), Viognier (1), Natural Sweet (1), Ros+¬ (1), Malbec (1) and Other Cultivars (1). Three gold medals were awarded to a White Wine, a Red Wine and a Port entered in the Museum Class.

After almost two decades the distinctive Veritas emblem of excellence that adorn the winning wines has become synonymous with top quality wines.

The full results are available online at,


Wine lovers have the unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the cream of the 2009 Veritas crop at the annual public tastings in three cities across the country during October and November this year with special tastings of selected wines in Port Elizabeth and Knysna.

The Cape Town tasting takes place at the VOC Centre (Southern Sun Cape Sun, Strand Street) on 21 October 2009 from 17:00 until 20:00. Tickets cost R120. Gauteng wine connoisseurs can join in the fun at the Bill Gallagher Room at the Sandton Convention Centre on 27 October from 17:00 until 20:00 where tickets cost R130. Durbanites should reserve their places at the Function Room, Deloittes Head Office in Umhlanga for a tasting on 5 November from 17:00 until 20:00. Tickets cost R100. A limited number of tickets are available in advance at Computicket outlets nationwide or online at

A selection of the Veritas champs will also be available for tasting in Port Elizabeth (Squires Legendary Grill on 10 November) and Knysna (Kilzers Kitchen on 11 and 12 November). Bookings are to be made at the venues. Visit for further information.

,A selection of the Veritas wines will also be available at From the Earth at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) from 16 to 18 October 2009.

This year’s wine tastings are supported by the professional services firm, Deloitte, who shares Veritas’ quest for excellence in South African Wine.

For the latest Veritas news, as well as interesting interviews with the organisers, international judges and top achievers, visit the new Veritas online press office at

For further information contact Elsab+¬ Ferreira at tel (021) 807 3104, email or visit

Veritas Press Release

Some may envy a wine judge’s job ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ constantly travelling to glamorous destinations to sample the world’s finest and most sought after wines. However, after a marathon tasting such as this year’s Veritas Awards, even the most seasoned tasters admit their chosen vocation has its fair share of challenges!
This year a whopping total of 1 728 wines were put through the wringer for the 19th annual Veritas Awards, held at the Nederburg Auction Complex in Paarl from 31 August to 4 September. This prestigious event rewards the country’s finest wines with the coveted Veritas double gold, gold, silver and bronze medals ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ revered indications to the wine lover (layman and connoisseur alike) of their stellar status.
Each year the competition invites a delegation of international experts to assist the local panel members in identifying the Veritas winners. These foreign fundis, all from diverse wine orientated backgrounds, not only add to the credibility of the results, they also bring with them a wealth of experience in wine assessment and the intensely specialized field of identifying global wine market trends and tendencies. This year the overseas component consisted of four highly respected tasters, hailing from Sweden, Germany, Australia and the UK.
For Sweden’s Anders Barr+¬n judging on the Veritas panel proved to be a rewarding and stimulating experience. “This is my first time in the winelands of South Africa and I’ve had a great time meeting people and discovering exciting new wines,” he comments. Barr+¬n is the wine purchaser for all South African wine for Systembolaget, the Swedish alcohol retail monopoly, which has SA as its largest category. At this year’s Veritas Awards Sauvignon Blanc accounted for the most entries (201) and Barr+¬n commented on the wide variety of styles on offer: “The best examples showed elegance, freshness, good concentration and a tendency towards cooler climate minerality”. Although he enjoyed the younger vintages most Barr+¬n believes there is potential for longevity in some well made SA Sauvignon Blancs. Chardonnay also displayed well, with “good balance and versatility, ranging in style from citrusy and restrained to more full bodied and creamy”.
A seasoned adjudicator and familiar face at the Veritas Awards, Lynne Sheriff is a South African wine consultant, lecturer and wine judge living in London. As both a Cape Wine Master and Master of Wine, Sheriff has more than 30 years of experience in the wine industry. On the whole she was impressed with the Sauvignon Blanc line-up, lauding the complexity of the wines on offer. “I tasted a broad spectrum of characteristics, from the grassy and herbaceous to the more tropical. Some of the 2008 entries stood out, proving that some producers from certain regions are making structured Sauvignon Blancs with the ability to age,” she says. She cautioned producers to watch out for overtly herbaceous styles which are not popular with the global market.

When it came to the reds, lead buyer of South African wines for Germany’s WIV Wein International AG, Thomas L?+¦???+¦?+¦???+æber, was enthusiastic about the Pinotage single varietal entries as well as the Pinotage blends on show. “The so-called ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+ëCape Blend’, or Pinotage based red blend, creates a wonderful opportunity for South Africa to present something completely unique to the world,” comments L?+¦???+¦?+¦???+æber. “I was really surprised at how well it works as a blending component and also impressed by the single varietal examples, which ranged from ripe and structured to fresh and fruity,” he explains. “Pinotage is an extremely versatile variety, easily adapted to the entry level wine drinker as well as the connoisseur,” maintains L?+¦???+¦?+¦???+æber. The Bordeaux blends also produced a few stunners, exhibiting “excellent typicity and good balance”. Currently European consumers are looking for fruity, easier drinking reds with lower alcohols he maintains.
Also part of the international contingent was Australia’s most senior wine judge, Ian McKenzie who is well known for his role in developing two of his country’s most celebrated wine brands, Seppelt Salinger (sparkling wine) and Penfolds Yattarna (Chardonnay). This is McKenzie’s third year in succession as a Veritas judge and he was impressed with the general progression of styles and improvement in quality in the Shiraz category. “The first time I judged on Veritas the wines were very full bodied and occasionally over-ripe, but there appears to be a greater balance and elegance amongst them now,” he remarks. It was McKenzie’s first time judging the sparkling wine category and a few definitely found his favour. “A number of the Cap Classique style wines can hold their own in any company,” he believes.

Open Letter to Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group

Kiwi's love what?
Kiwi's love what?

As someone keenly following the progress of the South African wine industry, especially its foray into international markets, I wish to bring this communication to your attention.
The news release (see below) covers the category of South African Sauvignon Blanc, and states that one of its brands is making headway into the New Zealand market. However, nowhere in the media release is any reference made to evidence of an increase in popularity of this wine in any Antipodean region. This is, of course, unless the words “well received” can be interpreted as evidence of such success, although no figures or quotes are provided to back up this claim.
It is a pity that this kind of mindless communication is accepted by an Interest Group which represents arguably South Africa’s most exciting white wine category.
Yours faithfully
Darien Morgan
New Zealand, regarded by many as the source of the world’s most exciting Sauvignon blancs, is developing a thirst for Sauvignons from Durbanville Hills, says the brand’s marketing manager Jackie Olivier., “New Zealanders are in the enviable position of having access to some of the most iconic Sauvignons, so it is particularly flattering for us that Durbanville Hills is being so well received in this market. At the same time, we are experiencing growth with this varietal in Australia, also well-populated with Sauvignon enthusiasts.”
Olivier said the six Durbanville Hills gold medals won on the 2009 Michelangelo International Wine Awards would in all likelihood act as a further incentive for Australasians to buy wines from the range, recognised for their cool-climate fruit intensity, readily discernible expression of terroir and capacity to age with grace.
She added that the Canadian, Swedish and Dutch markets, where the brand was showing good growth, would also welcome the news.
Three of the winery’s six golds were for Sauvignons: the 2008 Rhinofields Sauvignon Blanc, 2009 Rhinofields Inner Valley Sauvignon Blanc and the single-vineyard 2008 Biesjes Craal Sauvignon Blanc.

Vine Time to Plant at Meerendal


Meerendal Wine Estate in the Durbanville Wine Valley celebrated the 350 years of South African wine by planting a historic vineyard today. It is 350 years since Jan van Riebeeck made the first wine at the Cape on 2nd February 1659. Meerendal was founded in 1702 and was one of the first wine farms in the Tygerberg that would become Durbanville later. Meerendal was also one of the first 14 farms to be granted Wine Estate status in 1973 when the Wine of Origin Legislation was introduced. A special site with virgin soil was selected for this new vineyard. It lies next to the Pinotage Heritage Block vineyard and the soil has a soft, loamy texture with some clay. Three hundred and fifty vines have been planted to pay homage to the 350 years of SA Wine. The vines that have been planted have a unique origin. Meerendal was one of the first farms to plant Pinotage in the early 1950’s. One vineyard that was planted in 1955 has remained intact and these bush vines produce the grapes for the single vineyard wine called the Heritage Block Pinotage. It was decided to use this vineyard as the source of material for the 350 vineyard as the vines came from the original stock of Prof Perold, the father of Pinotage that was supplied to the wine farmers then. In this way Meerendal is continuing the historic link with the origin of Pinotage and ensuring that the original planting material here is preserved for the future. In June 2008 cuttings from these bush vines were taken to Cape Vines Nursery that grafted them on to Paulsen root stock, ready for planting this year. The guests that attended included representatives of the famous Pinotage farms of the 1950’s ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ Bellevue, Kanonkop and Uiterwyk ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ wine writers, Cape Wine Masters, the Pinotage Association, other industry leaders, all the winemakers of the Durbanville Wine Valley, the present owners and staff of Meerendal, children of the Starke family that previously owned Meerendal for 75 years and invited guests. The guests could select their vines from the table that was set up in the new vineyard and proceed to the holes that were prepared. After the planting ceremony each guest signed a special scroll that will be displayed in the tasting room at Meerendal. The first wine will be made in 2012 and the few barrels made from the 350 vines will be kept separately and bottled as a reserve wine. Meerendal is proud to continue its commitment to the South African wine industry through this project and to the rich heritage of Pinotage that this estate has since the first release of a bottled Meerendal Pinotage in 1969.