It was another beautiful day in the Stellenbosch winelands as a select group of wine lovers gathered for the final of the 34th Annual Blaauwklippen Blending Competition! With the picturesque Stellenbosch Mountains as the backdrop, finalists, judges and members of the media were greeted at the Blaauwklippen Tasting Room with a glass of sparkling Diva MCC 2015. While waiting for all to arrive, guests were encouraged to mingle and tease their taste buds with a few choice canapés: Springbok Bitterballen; Salmon Tartar with poached quail egg; Porcini mushroom, blue cheese, & pine nut tartlet; and Caprese salad in pepper tuile. A delightful taste of the feast to come.
Three of the four finalist wine clubs were from the Western Cape: Kelderhof Winos, Business Time, and Wine Geeks, joined by Outlander from Gauteng, with total of 84 wine clubs entered the Blending Competition. And after a German club won the trophy over the last 2 years, could a local club bring it back home and reclaim bragging rights?
Once assembled in the dining hall, Blaauwklippen MD & Winemaker Rolf Zeitvogel waxed lyrical on the continued success of the Blaauwklippen Blending Comeptition over the last 34 years: ‘Each year we are surprised by the popularity of this battle we created for amateur wine tasters and lovers and this year was no exception with a rise of 16% in entries! This is proof that we have a winning recipe, the true art of tasting and blending wines, sharing it with local and international amateur wine lovers and in the process educating while everyone is having fun‘. To prove that point, sumptuous starters were then served, a prawn bisque with coconut & green chilli bavarois, scallop & prawn accompanied by coriander oil & garlic croutons, a truly indulgent dish paired with the wonderful White Zinfandel 2017.
The Main Course offered another mouth-watering dish, beef roulade with polenta croquette & trio of vegetable puree served with duck liver parsnip mousse, and perfectly paired with the Cabriolet 2016, the winning blend. All eyes were on the finalists, to see if anyone could place whether their recipe had won. Finally the time came to announce the winner. The rules were simple: clubs were challenged to produce a serious, well-structured red blend, with ageing potential, consisting of Zinfandel 2016, Cabernet Franc 2016, Merlot 2016, Petit Verdot 2016 and Shiraz 2016. All five of these cultivars had to be used in the final blend, all of which are marked for use in the Blaauwklippen Vineyard Selection range. The Zinfandel was limited to a maximum of 10% of the blend, while the Cabernet Franc was limited to no more than 40% of the total blend.
And the winners of the 34th Annual Blaauwklippen Blending Competition 2017 are…. Kelderhof Winos Winetasting Club! Without a previous entry in the competition, the Western Cape based club won with a blend of 8% Zinfandel, 15% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, and 40% Shiraz. Not only did they win the overall honours, but as first time entrants, they were also named ‘Newcomer of the Year’. The Club now has the honour of having its wine made up in 750ml and in Magnum bottles, available for purchase.
To end off such a sweet victory called for an equally sweet dessert, and there could be none sweeter than the mini-dessert station, served with Before & After Aperitif as well as the Blaauwklippen 10 Year Potstill Brandy to mark the celebration of the auspicious occasion. A wonderful milestone for the winners and a wonderfully delicious day out in the Stellenbosch winelands for all!