Michelangelo International Judges Make Case for Pinotage and Chenin Blanc

Top image: Parani Chitrakorn, a wine educator and consultant from Thailand.

Wines made from grapes with strong South African links are receiving enthusiastic support from judges at this year’s Michelangelo International Wine and Spirits Awards, currently being judged at Longridge Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. With 28 judges from 22 countries, Michelangelo is South Africa’s largest and only truly international wine competition.

According to the judges, Pinotage and Chenin Blanc – varieties known as world-wide calling cards for the South African wine industry – are producing wines of excellence and true regional expression capable of furthering the presence of the industry globally.

Parani Chitrakorn, a wine educator and consultant from Thailand, says the Chenin Blanc wines tasted at this year’s competition is proof that South Africa had become a global leader in this variety.

“The flights of wines we tasted – both wooded and unwooded – showed beautiful fruit characters, balance and refreshment,” she says. “There is a common thread of skilled winemaking and a South African note of elegance and sunshine in the wines. But at the same time the Chenin Blancs show interesting diversity reflecting their respective terroir of origin. This is definitely one of the best South African categories and can be taken to the world with pride. And they would be great with spicy Thai food from my homeland!”

Dermot Nolan, MW, from Dublin has tasted on five Michelangelo Wine and Spirit Awards and is convinced that Pinotage has a strong role to play in the local industry. Not only because this is a South African born variety, but as a result of the vast improvements the category has undergone.

Dermot Nolan e1502961875831 Michelangelo International Judges Make Case for Pinotage and Chenin Blanc

Dermot Nolan, MW, from Dublin.

“Especially in Cape Blends where Pinotage harnessed with other varieties, the wines are one of a kind with a world-class feel in terms of texture and elegance,” he says. “But for sheer class and quality South Africa’s Bordeaux blends are simply incredible. They express a taste of place, sophisticated winemaking processes by winemakers understanding each grape used in the blend as well as having a clear vision of the outcome.”

Lorraine Immelman, founder and CEO of the Michelangelo International Wine and Spirits Awards, says that this year’s competition attracted over 1 600 entries, making it the largest wine competition in South Africa.

“Our trademark has always been the panels of international judges who not only offer unique insights into South African wines, but also leave the country as ambassadors for our industry,” she says. “And if their positive reaction to this year’s entries is anything to go by, this will definitely be the case this year, too.”