Ridgeback Wines Scoop Five Medals at Michelangelo Awards

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Ridgeback Wines from Paarl were awarded no less than five medals at the Michelangelo International Wine Awards ceremony on Saturday evening. The Paarl producer received a Platinum medal, a Gran d’Or, also known as a Double Gold medal, and three Gold medals. The awards were presented during a glamorous and formal dinner at the Cape Sun Hotel in Cape Town.

The Platinum medal, one of only 36 to be offered this year, was awarded to the Ridgeback His Master’s Choice ‘Signature S’ 2016. The Ridgeback Merlot 2015  received a Gran d’Or medal, while three Gold medals were awarded to the Ridgeback Chenin Blanc 2017, Ridgeback Cabernet Franc 2015  and Ridgeback His Master’s Choice ‘Signature C’ 2016  respectively.

The Michelangelo International Wine Awards attracted a record number of 2 255 wines and spirits entries this year, which makes it the largest competition of its kind on the African continent and one of the leaders in the southern hemisphere. The 2018 judging panel comprised of 30 respected judges from 16 countries such as Argentina, Chile, France, Germany and China, to name but a few, and included sommeliers, educators, wine and spirits producers, British Masters of Wine, as well as journalists from Europe, the Far East and the Americas.

Says Winemaker and Viticulturist, Toit Wessels: “I consider winemaking to be an immense privilege of guiding nature into a bottle and feel extremely humbled by, and proud of, our accomplishment at the Michelangelo Awards.” Wessels has been at the helm of Ridgeback Wines since its inception in 2000 and has an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the soils and vineyards located on the northern slopes of the magnificent Paarl mountain. It is here where 35 hectares are planted with a variety of wine grapes for the Ridgeback portfolio. Wessels, together with Ridgeback proprietor Vernon Cole, have built on an impressive foundation and has been awarded numerous accolades and medals since 2001, both locally and abroad.

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“It was a great evening for Ridgeback Wines,” said Cole. “Receiving those accolades is of tremendous importance to increase awareness of our wines both locally and internationally. We have an exceptional portfolio of wines and five awards from gold medal upwards show the depth and quality of our wine and the achievement of this is in no small part due to our long-serving wine maker, Toit Wessels.”

Ridgeback His Master’s Choice ‘Signature S’ 2016 proudly walked away with a Platinum medal and is 90 % Shiraz-based with the balance Viognier, making it a typical Rhône-style wine. The Gran d’Or medal, or Double Gold as it is locally referred to, was awarded to the Ridgeback Merlot 2015. Matured for 18 months in French Oak barrels, this wine delivers intense aromatics of dark plum, mulberry and liquorice, and would be the ideal companion to enjoy with ostrich fillet. Furthermore, three Gold medals were awarded to the Ridgeback Chenin Blanc 2017, Ridgeback Cabernet Franc 2015 and Ridgeback His Master’s Choice ‘Signature C’ 2016.

The Chenin Blanc 2017 is produced from 14-year-old dryland bush vines grown in deep Oakleaf and Clovelly soils. It was whole bunch pressed and matured for eight months in new French Oak barrels. Ridgeback’s Cabernet Franc 2015 also walked away with a Gold medal at the annual Cabernet Franc Challenge in May earlier this year. A firm favourite among Cabernet Franc fans, the wine displays upfront notes of black currant, peppercorn and black olive which is cradled by elegant, ripe tannins and a lasting finish. The ‘Signature C’ 2016 is a Cabernet Franc-led Bordeaux-style red blend, and both the ‘Signature S’ and ‘Signature C’ wines are produced in small batches of only 1,500 bottles per year, making it the ideal collector’s item.

The Ridgeback Chenin Blanc retails at approximately R100, while the Cabernet Franc 2015 and Merlot 2015 costs R140 a bottle. Both the Ridgeback His Master’s Choice ‘Signature S’ and ‘Signature C’ are available from the estate’s wine tasting facility at R325 each.

In addition to the winery, Ridgeback is also home to a six-bedroom 4-star guesthouse located in beautiful country surroundings, a tasting room facility which is open 7 days a week, and a restaurant overlooking a dam populated with a range of exotic waterfowl which is open Tuesdays to Sundays for breakfast and lunch.