For the first time in the 31 year history of the Blaauwklippen Blending Competition, the winning glory had to be shared between six wine clubs, with three clubs hailing from Pretoria, namely Wine 101, Baronne Wynklub, and Vaal Ja-Pe Wynproe Groep the Versapper from Centurion, Weskus Wyngilde from Vredenburg and last, but not least, Oude Molen Wynkring from Potchefstroom.
This year’s blending competition saw a total of 99 blends competing for the honour to be crowned best blenders. Four international entries were received from Axybel in Belgium, Blaauwklippen Wine Friends Heidiland in Switzerland, the Portland Classique wine guild from Australia, as well as the Ongava International Wine Tasters from Namibia.
“Receiving more and more entries from abroad affirms the popularity of this competition and the role it has on wine club calendars all over the world,” said Rolf Zeitvogel, Blaauwklippen’s Cellar Master and convenor of the judging panel.
“We have cemented a reputation of professional, but hands-on approach to wine selection. This competition, the only wine contest in South Africa where amateur wine clubs are given the opportunity to submit their own blends for judging by a panel of professional wine experts, gives those who enter a real look into what happens on a working wine farm when creating a winning blend of commercial value.”
For 2014 the clubs were tasked to create a consumer friendly, every day, easy-drinking, juicy, modern red blend, consisting of the following wines, Cabernet Franc 2012, Malbec 2013, Shiraz 2013 and Zinfandel 2013. A minimum of three of the four base wines had to be used in the final blend, and Zinfandel and Cabernet Franc had to be included in restricted quantities in the recipe.
After the clubs had determined the ideal percentage of blending components to create their final wine, the blends were tasted by a panel of wine judges to determine the finalists. Six wines stood out with exactly the same blend, 30% Zinfandel, 20% Malbec, 15% Cabernet Franc and 35% Shiraz, which created a playful, yet elegant red wine.
Finalist clubs are treated to a fun filled and informative weekend in the winelands, courtesy of the Protea Hotel Stellenbosch, and every finalist club is treated to a personal visit and exclusive wine tasting by Rolf Zeitvogel, Blaauwklippen’s Managing Director and Cellar Master. Other prizes include wine from Blaauwklippen and glassware from Vitria, who has been a sponsor of this competition since its inception in 1984.
The six winning club’s red blend will be bottled under the Blaauwklippen Barouche label and sold commercially. The label for this winning blend is based on a specially designed artwork by well-known Stellenbosch artist, Frans Groenewald, and all six wine clubs will receive recognition on the back label. The wine is sold in Magnum bottles from selected retail outlets, and from the Tasting Room on the farm at R120 per bottle.
An additional award, the Newcomer Trophy, was introduced in 2008 by Blaauwklippen to encourage new entries and wine enthusiasts to the competition. This trophy goes to the highest scoring wine of a wine club which has never entered the competition before and this year the honours went to Bonza Bay Winos from East London.
Rolf’s panel of judges this year consisted of Albert Basson (Blaauwklippen winemaker), Clive Torr (Cape Wine Master and winemaker), Samarie Smith (wine judge and journalist), Karen Glanfield (wine judge and journalist) and Elona Hesseling (wine judge and journalist).