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Soweto Wine Festival courts Soweto’s growing market of Connoisseurs 

True to the saying “new broom sweeps clean”, this year’s visitors to the 13th Standard Bank Wine Festival are in for a treat. With ushering in a new majority shareholder to the festival, Saki Zamxaka, comes his personal passion, and following, for South Africa’s best wines.

As the festival has evolved over 13 years years, from navigating big distributor’s into the Soweto market, it now takes on a refined approach, with distributors well-connected to the likes of Vilakazi Street Restaurants. A festival that is tailored towards the connoisseur. This is no entry-level “drinking party.”

Make no mistake, the humble, accessible ethos on which the festival is based remains – newbies are welcome to dip a toe into the Wonderful World of Wine without feeling out of their depth – but the focus is on bringing the Best of South Africa’s wines into Soweto for the growing market of Connoisseurs.

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In June, the Old Mutual Trophy Awards announced the Best Wines in the Country.

Out of 977 wines under review, 40 received gold medals and 23 trophies were awarded for Best in Class, including the coveted Most Successful Producer of the Show.

Each year, the wine industry submits their proudest product in the hopes of being placed among the best at the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show.

The panel deliberates for several days, identifying the best wines across 20 or 30 classes, sifting their way through around 1000 wines, seeking the very best, but also alert to changing styles, different aesthetic statements. Finally all this effort comes together at the Trophy judging, where only the gold medal winners are once again put through the mill in order to identify the “best in class” and “best on show”.

Newcomers to the limelight, from Warwick Wine Estate – which took home the Most Successful Producer Trophy, to De GrendelLaborieMiddelvlei and Springfontein – all first time trophy winners, and then a host of first time gold medallists – Arabella, Beaumont, Glenelly, Grande Provence, Middelvlei, Overhex, Rainbow’s End and Zandvliet.

The top red wine was the 2015 Leeuwenkuil Heritage Syrah and this year’s winner of the Nestlé Pure Life Trophy for the show’s best Sauvignon Blanc was Stark-Condé – for the 2017 Round Mountain (wooded) Sauvignon Blanc.

Shiraz was the largest class with 106 submissions (110 in 2017), followed by Cabernet Sauvignon at 94 (93 last year). Pinotage was slightly down (50 compared with 2017’s 53) but Chenin Blanc increased by 26% from 62 in 2017 to 79 this year. Sauvignon Blanc with 96 entries (2017: 92) and Chardonnay with 80 (2017: 89) lead the white wine charge, while Bordeaux Blends up by 10% on last year at 86 (2017: 79), Merlot at 45 entries (2017: 43), and Pinot Noir (5 up on last year’s 23) with 28, account for the balance of the major red wine classes.

All the Trophy Winners

Old Mutual Trophy for Most Successful Producer Overall
Warwick Wine Estate

Makro Trophy for Best Shiraz, Old Mutual International Judges’ Trophy and Old Mutual Trophy for Best Red Wine Overall
Leeuwenkuil Heritage Syrah 2015

Harold Eedes Trophy for Best Chenin Blanc, Old Mutual Trophy for Best White Wine Overall
Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2016

Old Mutual Trophy for Discovery of the Show / Best Value Gold Medallist
Arabella Pinotage 2017

American Express Trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon
Rustenberg Peter Barlow Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Old Mutual Trophy for Best Sparkling Wine
Laborie Méthode Cap Classique Blanc de Blancs 2011

Old Mutual Trophy for Best Dessert Wine (Unfortified)
Buitenverwachting ‘1769’ 2015

Riedel Trophy for Best Bordeaux-Style Red Blend
Diemersdal Private Collection 2016

Miele Trophy for Best Chardonnay
Tokara Reserve Collection Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2016

Nestlé Pure Life Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc
Stark-Condé Round Mountain Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Grand Roche Trophy for Best White Blend
Backsberg Family Reserve White 2017

Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Blend
Warwick Professor Black 2017

Trophy for Best Cabernet Franc
Warwick Cabernet Franc 2015

Trophy for Best Shiraz-Based Red Blend
Middelvlei Momberg 2016

Trophy for Best Pinotage
De Grendel Amandelboord Pinotage 2016

Trophy for Best Niche Variety
Springfontein Limestone Rocks Child in Time Petit Verdot 2012

Trophy for Best Merlot
Eagles’ Nest Merlot 2014

Trophy for Best Fortified Wine
Landzicht Wit Muskadel 2016

Trophy for Best Museum Class Sauvignon Blanc
Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2011

Trophy for Best Museum Class White Blend
Vergelegen G.V.B White 2013

Gold Medal Winners

Arabella Pinotage 2017
Backsberg Pumphouse Shiraz 2016
Beaumont Family Wines Dangerfield Syrah 2016
Boschendal Appellation Series Elgin Sauvignon Blanc 2017 Buitenverwachting Christine 2012
Cape Point Vineyards Noordhoek Sauvignon Blanc 2017
De Grendel Koetshuis Sauvignon Blanc 2017
DeMorgenzon Reserve Chardonnay 2017
DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc 2017
Diemersfontein Woolworths Reserve Collection Pinotage 2016
Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Chardonnay 2016
Glenelly Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2016
Grande Provence Chenin Blanc 2017
Marras Swartland Los Tros Chenin Blanc 2017
Meerlust Rubicon 2015
Middelvlei Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Olifantsberg Silhouette 2014
Rainbow’s End Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Springfontein Daredevils’ Drums Bunches Broken Shiraz 2016 Stellar Organics Woolworths No Sulphur Added Organic Shiraz 2017 Survivor Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (Overhex Wines International) Zandvliet Shiraz 2015

Wine Award Winners Source: @CapeTownEtc

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