Orange River Cellars Continues Domination of SA Muscadel Competition

To announce that Orange River Cellars, the Northern Cape’s leading wine cellar, has yet again excelled with its delicious Muscadel wines is hardly news for wine consumers these days, but this year the producer’s long-running success story has truly reached new heights. In the Muscadel SA Competition, one of South Africa’s most influential fortified wine competitions, Orange River Cellars’ Red Muscadel 2016 and White Muscadel 2016 were both awarded Platinum Awards made at the event, which was held last week.

Orange River has dominated these awards in the past years, having previously won five platinum and two gold awards since 2013.

According to Koos Visser, Orange River Cellars Marketing Manager, a Platinum Award at Muscadel SA represents the pinnacle of achievements on the South African fortified wine scene.

“While it is an immense honour to win these two Platinum Awards, it is even bigger privilege to have the opportunity to represent our region on such a grand stage, and to see our wines receiving recognition alongside South Africa’s leading wine brands,” he said. “With packaging taken into consideration for Platinum status, it is good to know the rebranded look found favour among the judges.”

Orange River vineyards. e1496311579896 Orange River Cellars Continues Domination of SA Muscadel Competition

But what makes Orange River Cellars’ Muscadel wines rank among the best in the world?

“Our Muscadel is not made in the old traditional way anymore; we make use of modern technology, like red- and white winemakers, to ensure that the balance and quality are perfect before we bottle,” says Chris Venter, manager of the wine portfolio at Orange River Cellars.

“We take part in this competition annually because the feedback we have received from the judges helped us better our product.  The sticker on the bottle draws the attention of the consumer which leads to better sales,” says Venter.

Venter also explained that the 2016 harvest was a good one for ORC because it was a hot, dry season which led to a more concentrated flavour profile – perfect conditions for Muscadel wine.

According to Henning Burger, Manager of Viticultural Services at Orange River Cellars, the geographic conditions of the vineyards are perfectly suited to yield grapes of outstanding quality.

“The Muscat de Frontignan vineyards that our white and red Muscadels originate from, enjoy the best living conditions imaginable,” says Burger. “They are planted in deep alluvial soils that are rich in clay. Combined with the long ripening period filled with lots of sunny days, this ensures grapes with deep and intense muscat flavours. We harvest the grapes between 26º and 30º Balling when they are full of flavour concentration, which gives our winemakers the perfect fruit to work with.”

“I often joke with the winemakers by telling them that they have no excuse not to make winning wines from this calibre of grapes!”

According to Visser, Orange River Cellars is in the favourable position of making Muscadel wines that also have a loyal following among consumers.

“The Muscadel market has declined in the past few decades, but our brand is standing firm among Muscadel lovers,” says Visser. “It is good for us and for our region, but more importantly, good for South Africa and for Muscadel wines that are such a wonderful part of our industry.”