Last night KWV was crowned as the king of the wine industry for the fifth year running, winning 5 Double Gold and 9 Gold Awards for its wines, more than any other winemaker. Nederburg (2 Double Golds and 11 Gold Awards) and Spier (2 Double Golds and 8 Gold Awards) followed in second and third place, respectively, awarded at one of the highlights of the wine industry, a function attended by about 400 wine industry staff and media, with their partners. Kanonkop won the Best Performance by Entry title for 10 wines or fewer entered, while KWV won the title for more than 10 wines entered. A total of 57 Double Gold, 157 Gold, 473 Silver, and 662 Bronze medals was awarded. A mix of local and international judges evaluated the entries.
Not only were the wines with their winemakers and related staff celebrated, so too was the 25th anniversary of the Veritas Awards. The highlight of the evening for me was seeing how many women were amongst the winemaking teams called to the stage to receive Double Gold Awards, a transformation in itself!
Held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, the Veritas Awards was set up in its Ballroom, and attracted those that were hopeful of winning a Double Gold or Gold Award, as only awards in these two classes were announced last night, a booklet summarizing the remaining Silver and Bronze Awards handed out at the end of the evening. The dinner was preceded by a welcome drink to settle the nerves, and canapés were served, including one with duck and mushroom.The proceedings were quite formal, with grace being said by industry legend Dave Hughes, in the form of a poem, Veritas Chairman Charles Hopkins thanking all involved in the 800-person event, stating that 290 wine estates had entered more than 1700 wines for the Awards, and Bennie Howard being the host and announcer. The event was very strictly bilingual, and even hugely popular entertainer Elvis Blue sang in both languages. The rest of the event was vibey, with snippets of popular hits accompanying some of the winners as they were called up to receive their Awards, and in breaks (too loud for a conversation at the table at times), with energetic dancing too! The recently held CapeWine 2015 was acknowledged for its success, and South Africa described as ‘an amazing wine country’, which resulted in an enthusiastic round of applause. Lecturers at Elsenburg were mentioned by name, and their role in the industry acknowledged.
The enjoyment of attending the Veritas Awards is who one sits with at the table, and so I met Edgbaston assistant winemaker Franco Lourens and his fianceé, and re-met Buitenverwachting CEO Lars Maack and his wife Megan, and Edgbaston’s Annemie Adriaanse and her partner, whom I had met at the Nederburg Auction last month. Lars told me that the Veritas Awards is one of only two competitions that they enter.
Five wine industry legends were saluted: Cassie du Plessis, founder and previous editor of Wynland, for his promotion of the wine industry, and for enhancing the image of Vinpro; Dr Bill Gallagher of Sun International and President of the SA Chefs Association for 20 years, who has promoted South African wines and its cuisine around the globe; Michael Green, a wine writer from Durban, who has written about wines for the past 40 years; former MD Jos le Roux, who transformed Vinpro; and Jan Scannell, former MD of Distillers.
A bread platter with butter was on the table when we sat down, as was a mix of wines, which were those left over from the wines submitted for the Awards. One could choose which wines on the table one paired with the dishes served. The Veritas Awards dinners have not been known for their cuisine, one had heard, so this year they called in the assistance of Eat Out Top 10 ‘celebrity chefs’ David Higgs from five hundred restaurant at The Saxon, and Bertus Basson of Overture, working alongside Chef Warwick Thomas of the Convention Centre. We could not imagine how the chefs could cater for 800 guests. The number of guests severely restricted what the chefs could prepare and serve, particularly disappointing being Chef David’s colorful starter of orange-cured trout, humus, sunflower seed pesto, and a salad of salted almonds, sunflower shoots, and radish.
I was surprised when Chef Bertus Basson came to sit down at our table, to come and chat, as we waited for his dessert called ‘Pudding at my Mother’s Table‘, evoking childhood memories with apple pie, jelly and custard, and vanilla ice cream. Things were clearly under control in the kitchen and he appeared very relaxed in chatting about the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards, and the situation regarding his Overture Head Chef Adele Grewar, having been with him for seven years, having left, and returning from Australia earlier this year. I had written that Overture could not be eligible for Top 20 this year, as Adele has not been the restaurant Head Chef for the required 12 months. Chef Bertus called for the younger generation of chefs to come up the ranks and win Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant recognition. He expressed his delight with the new owner of Hidden Valley, former Capitec MD Riaan Stassen, and the proposed plans to renovate Overture and to add a new casual open-fire restaurant on the wine estate next year. Chef Bertus said their winter season was very good. The lighting changed just before the dessert was served, making our photographs look dreadful, so we acknowledge the use of the Veritas Awards photograph of the dessert by photographer Andrew Gorman.
The dinner ended off with a Qualité Award-winning cheese platter, consisting of Baby Gouda, Huguenot 12-month matured, and Chevin with garlic and herbs, served with walnuts, green figs, and fresh strawberries, which I managed to photograph outside the hall. Agri-Expo hosts the annual SA Cheese Awards, and sponsored the dinner last night. Friandise were brought to the table too. (Photograph by Andrew Gorman for Veritas).
Prefacing the Award announcements, we were told that Pinotage, Sauvignon Blanc, and Shiraz were three categories of wines for which it was most difficult to receive an Award, given the large number of entries. The Double Gold and Gold Award winners were the following:
Double Gold wines
KWV won 5 Double Gold medals for: Abraham Perold Tributum 2013, The Mentors Chardonnay 2012, The Mentors Orchestra 2011, The Mentors Sauvignon Blanc Darling 2013 and The Mentors Sémillon Darling 2014.
Nederburg’s Double Gold glory went to Nederburg II Centuries Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 and Nederburg Private Bin Edelkeur 2005.
Spier won Double Gold for the Savanha Naledi Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 and The Hutton Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Woolworths) 2013.
Kanonkop’s Double Gold Medals for the 2009 and 2012 Pinotage.
Ormonde Vineyards’ 2013 Chip off the Old Block Shiraz and Shiraz won Double Gold.
Oak Valley Wines was awarded Double Gold with Oak Valley Elgin Chardonnay 2014 and Oak Valley Pinot Noir 2013.
Perdeberg scooped 2 Double Gold medals for Perdeberg The Dry Land Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2014 and Saam Mountain The Middelburg Chenin Blanc 2013.
Rustenburg Wines clinched 2 Double Golds for Rustenberg Five Soldiers Chardonnay 2012 and Rustenberg Peter Barlow Cabernet Sauvignon 2009.
Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Sur Lie Sauvignon Blanc 2015 and Kleine Zalze Vintage Brut Chardonnay/Pinot Noir MCC 2009 each won Double Gold.
A total of 22 producers won 1 Double Gold each: Anura, Babylons Peak, Badsberg, Beyerskloof, Boschkloof, Darling Cellars, Cederberg Private Cellar, DGB Boschendal, Diemersdal, Durbanville Hills, Eagle’s Nest Wines, Het Vlock Casteel, Lanzerac, Le Bonheur, Longavi (Chile), Neethlingshof, Org de Rac, Peter Falke Wines, Saronsberg, Simonsig, Tokara and Villiera.
Double Gold Fortified wine
The winning Double Gold trio are: Boplaas Cape Tawny Vintner’s Reserve Bin 1880 NV, Conradie Family Vineyards Muskadel Limited Release 2009 and KWV Classic Collection Cape Tawny Dessert Wine NV.
Double Gold Brandies
KWV scooped 3 Double Gold awards with the KWV 10 year Potstill Brandy, KWV 12 year Potstill Brandy, and KWV Alambic 15 year Potstill Brandy. Oude Meester Demant Potstilled Brandy and Oude Meester Souverein Potstilled Brandy 18 year were all awarded Double Gold. Van Ryn’s clinched 2 Double Gold medals with the Van Ryn’s 12 year old Vintage Brandy and Van Ryn’s 15 year old Vintage Brandy. Veritas Double Gold medals were also awarded to: Collison’s White Gold, Flight of the Fish Eagle, Oude Molen Ladismith 8 year Brandy, and Richelieu 10 year old Brandy.
Tastings of the Veritas award-winning wines will be held in the following cities: Cape Town on 20 October, Johannesburg on 27 October, Durban on 4 November, Port Elizabeth on 10 November, and in Knysna on 11 and 12 November.
The enjoyable evening ended off at midnight, and I was transported home safely by Uber, with a waiting time on such a busy evening of only five minutes!
Veritas Awards, Tel (021) 863-1599 www.veritas.co.za Twitter: @VeritasAwards
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Tales Blog: www.whalecottage.com/blog Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook: click here