The 11th annual Shiraz SA Challenge concluded with a flourish, unveiling a medley of both seasoned veterans and promising newcomers as winners. The event, held on the 17th of August 2023 in the heart of Paarl, showcased the captivating synergy between the established and the avant-garde in the realm of winemaking.
A Night of Glamour and Elegance: The Awards Event
The illustrious awards ceremony was a spectacle of glamour and sophistication, where finalists and luminaries of the wine industry gathered at the recently revitalized Simonsvlei Wine Cellar. Serving as the host for this remarkable affair, Simonsvlei Wine Cellar has not only re-emerged as a brand but has transformed into a lifestyle destination. The charismatic Tracey Lange, a beloved radio and television personality, took the reins as the master of ceremonies, while the melodic tones of musician Schalk Joubert added a harmonious touch. The main sponsor, Vinventions, a global provider of wine bottle closures, solidified its long-standing partnership with Shiraz SA, underscoring its commitment to the industry’s growth.
Honouring the Essence of South African Shiraz: The Bernard Podlashuk Shiraz Trophy
This year, the prestigious Bernard Podlashuk Shiraz Trophy was bestowed upon Creation Wines, accompanied by a notable cash prize of R30,000 sponsored by Bellingham. Named after the “Father of South African Shiraz”, Bernard Podlashuk, this magnificent trophy pays homage to his profound impact on the industry. The 2022 recipient was Saronsberg, commemorating their decade-long performance in the Shiraz SA Challenge. For this year’s iteration, all producers were invited to participate, with excellence, innovation, creativity, sustainability, and social responsibility as guiding criteria. The distinguished panel, comprising luminaries like Andrew Harris of Bellingham Wines, Francois Haasbroek of Shiraz SA’s Management Committee, Dr. Etienne Terblanche of Vinpro, and Prof. Jako Volschenk of Stellenbosch University Business School, meticulously evaluated the entries. Emerging victorious, Creation Wines outshone worthy rivals Ken Forrester Wines and De Grendel.
The Champions of 2023: From Classic Shiraz to Innovative Blends to Rosé Elegance
A total of sixteen winners emerged triumphant across the Shiraz SA Challenge’s three categories, showcasing the breadth and diversity of South African winemaking prowess.
The Top 12 Shiraz of 2023:
- Anthonij Rupert Cape of Good Hope Riebeeksrivier Syrah 2018
- Darling Cellars Gustus Shiraz 2021
- De Grendel Op die Berg Syrah 2021
- Dewaldt Heyns Weathered Hands Shiraz 2020
- Diemersdal Syrah 2022
- Fairview The Beacon Shiraz 2020
- Flagstone Dark Horse Shiraz 2019
- Groenland Syrah Premium 2018
- Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Shiraz 2019
- Stellenzicht Arenite Syrah 2019
- Uva Mira The Mira Shiraz 2020
- Wildeberg Red 2022
The 2023 Shiraz Blend Winners:
- Babylonstoren Babel 2021
- Flagstone Velvet 2017
- Quoin Rock Simonsberg Blend 2020
The 2023 Shiraz Rosé Winner:
- Villion Rosa Rabbedoe Rosé 2023
Diverse Palates and Innovative Techniques: The Impressive Panel of Judges
Charles Hopkins, the esteemed cellar master of De Grendel, led the panel of seasoned tasters. This ensemble included the erudite Cape Wine Master Dr. Andy Roediger from Stellenbosch University, Cape Wine Master Bennie Howard, vice-chairman of the SA National Wine Show Association, Heidi Kritzinger from Kanonkop Wine Estate, Nongcebo Langa, winemaker from Delheim Wines, and Shanice du Preez from De Grendel, acting as the protégée.
According to Hopkins, the hallmark of this year’s entries was the amalgamation of quality and variety: “We experienced clever use of oak and more fruit-driven flavors. The uniqueness of single-vineyard Shiraz and the diversity of terroir were noteworthy.”
A Fusion of Technology and Tradition: A Culinary Collaboration
The tasting process, a meticulous collaboration with Stellenbosch University, was guided by a unique order for each judge to ensure impartiality. The software and support were graciously provided by Wine MS, while Exceed Group meticulously verified the process and results. Crystal Direct furnished tasting glasses tailored for Shiraz, and Lebone Paarl Labels contributed bottle seals for the victorious wines. Additionally, unsampled wines were donated to the Pebbles Project, continuing the tradition of generosity.
Mark Your Calendar: National Shiraz Day on August 21
Shiraz enthusiasts are invited to partake in the nationwide celebration of National Shiraz Day on the 21st of August. Edmund Terblanche, Chairman of Shiraz SA, highlighted the importance of the annual Seven Days of Shiraz and Venison event in collaboration with participating members. He urged all to secure their spot to partake in this exceptional experience.
For comprehensive results and additional details, visit www.ShirazSA.co.za. Engage in the discourse on social media using #ShirazSAAwards, and follow Shiraz SA on Twitter @Shiraz_SA, Facebook @ShirazSouthAfrica, and Instagram @shirazsouthafrica.