A Cabernet Franc wine from Chamonix Estate’s mountain vineyards in Franschhoek took this year’s top prize at the annual Cabernet Franc Challenge that has since 2016 been at the forefront of recognising the quality of South African wines made from this classic Bordeaux grape variety. Chamonix was awarded the Cobie van Oort Challenge Trophy for Top Scoring Wine at this year’s challenge, with the Chamonix Cabernet Franc 2020 edging-out the 37 other entrants of this year’s competition.
The trophy for best Cabernet Franc is named after the late Cobie van Oort, co-founder of this competition and recognised for her work in acknowledging and promoting the quality of Cape Cabernet Franc.
Commenting on the winning wine, Carrie Adams, convenor of the judging panel for this year’s competition, said that Chamonix Cabernet Franc 2020 “sported the perfect framework of great Cab Franc with graphite and beautifully ripe, raspberry fruit on nose and palate”.
Chamonix winemaker Neil Bruwer said he and his team are elated at this recognition for one of the Chamonix wine-offerings showing the diverse potential of the estate’s mountain vineyards.
“Chamonix has inevitably garnered an excellent reputation for our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir due to recognition at various high-profile competitions as well as from local and international wine critics,” says Bruwer. “But since taking-over the winemaking reins in 2019 I made a point of emphasizing the incredible quality of Cabernet Franc from our unique terroir. The elevated vineyards, running to 400m above sea-level and the soils of broken shale and decomposed granite form an amazing environment for this variety.
“Cabernet Franc needs ideal ripening conditions to create the supple tannins and elegant, silky fruit profile the wines are renowned for. Here the degrees of sunlight radiation the Chamonix slopes are exposed to, as well as the constant air-flow, allow for this.”
For the making of Chamonix Cabernet Franc the berries are subjected to a selection process before fermented whole in stainless steel and concrete tanks for three weeks. Following malolactic fermentation, the wine is matured for 18 months in 228-litre French oak barrels.
Chamonix CEO Stefan van Rooyen says that being named top wine at the Cabernet Franc Challenge is a tremendous recognition of which he and his team are proud. “Despite only having been made as a single cultivar wine in South Africa since 1998, the country has of late been gaining a reputation for the quality of our Cabernet Franc wines,” says Van Rooyen.
“The variety has found its way into the stables of leading Cape wine brands and is fast becoming one of the country’s most reputable grapes in terms of its ability to showcase regional terroir through evocative and varietal expressive wines known for their refined elegance. For Chamonix to lead the way at this year’s Cabernet Franc Challenge in such a competitive category of excellent wines is a true honour, one inspiring us to be known as one of the Cape’s leading premium wineries.”
At the judging of this year’s Cabernet Franc Challenge, Adams was assisted by ace sommelier Greg Mutambe and Cape Wine Master Lizette Tolken.