Absa Perold Cape Blend Winners are SA Icons in the making

The 5th annual Perold Absa Cape Blend Wine Competition has affirmed what many local wine commentators have been saying for years: that South Africa’s indigenous Pinotage grape is the ultimate all-rounder. The winning wines in this year’s competition all differ in their blend make-up, highlighting Pinotage’s ability to seamlessly integrate with and complement virtually any variety.

According to Beyers Truter, chairman of the SA Pinotage Association who organises the Perold Cape Blend Competition in collaboration with Absa, the Cape Blend is one of the country’s most dynamic and exciting wine categories.

“When the Absa Perold Cape Blend competition was initiated in 2011, the aim was to promote a category that would yield bold, vibrant wines truly representative of South Africa, i.e. with a significant Pinotage component, possessing the kind of complexity, balance and ageability that would make them stand out on a world stage.

“Apart from the prescribed Pinotage component, there are no restrictions on making a Cape Blend, the winemaker’s only limitation is his or her imagination. The result is that we see incredible stylistic diversity and creativity in the wines entered – among the finalists there really is a wine to satisfy every palate and preference.

“If there is one thing evident it is that in the make-up of a fine Cape Blend, you see a true craftsman – or woman – at work.”

According to Craig Bond, Chief Executive of Business and Retail Banking at Barclays Africa, Pinotage and the Cape Blend category of wines are truly unique jewels in the crown that is the South African wine industry. “This partnership reflects our long-standing commitment not only to the Pinotage Association but to the South African wine industry as a whole. Our corporate philosophy is strongly centred around ideas, innovation and creativity, and the Cape Blend winemakers reflect these values with their dynamic and passionate search for wines that have an own identity, are creatively put together and reflect the excellence of Brand South Africa, of which we as a bank are proud to be a part of.

“Our continued involvement with this competition is inspired by our confidence in the new generation of South African winemakers who are working hard to increase the prestige and sophistication of wines produced in South Africa.”

According to the rules of the competition, at least 30% of the final blend – but not more than 70% – has to be Pinotage. A category rapidly growing in popularity, this year’s competition attracted 56 entries from some of the country’s leading wine producers. The 2015 race was so closely contested in fact, that 11 finalists were selected instead of the customary 10.

The five winning Cape Blends for 2015, and their components are:

Anura LB Cape Cuvée 2014 (Pinotage, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon)
Idiom Cape Blend 2012 (Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot)
KWV Abraham Perold Tributum 2013 (Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec)
Welbedacht Hat Trick 2007 (Pinotage, Shiraz, Merlot)
Wellington Wines La Cave Cape Blend 2013 (Pinotage, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon)

The six other finalists in this year’s Perold Absa Cape Blend Competition were:

Cloof Wine Estate Inkspot Vin Noir 2011 (Pinotage, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsaut)
Kaapzicht Steytler Vision 2012 (Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot)
Namaqua Wines Cellar Door Pinotage/Malbec 2014
Painted Wolf Peloton Rouge 2011 (Pinotage, Shiraz, Mourvedre, Grenache, Viognier)
Pulpit Rock Louisa Reserve 2012 (Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot)
Romond Vineyards Rebus Cape Cuvée 2011 (Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot)

The judges for this year’s competition were Neil Ellis (convenor), Kevin Arnold, Andre van Rensburg, Karl Lambour, Christine Rudman and Samantha de Morne-Hughes (associate).

Caption: Back, from left:

De Wet Viljoen (vice-chairman Pinotage Association), Francois Smit (Absa), Reino Thiart (Idiom), Tiaan Burger (Welbedacht), Willem Nel (Absa)
Front from Left: Izele van Blerk (KWV), Johnnie Calitz (Anura), Chris Smit (Wellington Cellar)