The SA Young Wine Show, the largest and oldest wine show in South Africa, brings out the best in the country’s top cellars, and to win a trophy among the crème-de-la-crème of the local wine industry is any wine producer’s dream. This year Orange River Cellars took one of only 17 trophies presented in a competition that attracted 1 868 entries, the victorious wine being a White Muscadel made at this dynamic Northern Cape winery’s Keimoes cellar.
“To win a trophy at the SA Young Wine Show, which has been bringing out the best in the local industry since 1833, is seen as a major achievement,” says Koos Visser, Orange River Cellars’s marketing manager.
“Yes, Orange River is known for its Muscadel, but in the Young Wine Show you come up against the best Muscadel producers in the country from the Breedekloof, Robertson and the Klein Karoo, among others. Like us, these producers take their Muscadel seriously. Quality of fruit, skill in the fortification process and the goal of achieving balance in the structure of this alluring sweet wine is vitally important.
“Coming up with the top score at the Young Wine Show and bagging that glittering trophy, is a great honour for our wine farmers who grow the grapes and the skill of our wine-making teams.”
But what makes Orange River Cellars’ Muscadel wines rank among the best in the world?
According to Henning Burger, Manager of Viticultural Services at Orange River Cellars, the geographic conditions of the vineyards are perfectly suited to yield grapes of outstanding quality.
“The Muscat de Frontignan vineyards that our white and red Muscadels originate from, enjoy the best living conditions imaginable,” says Burger. “They are planted in deep alluvial soils that are rich in clay. Combined with the long ripening period filled with lots of sunny days, this ensures grapes with deep and intense muscat flavours. We harvest the grapes between 26° and 30° Balling when they are full of flavour concentration, which gives our winemakers the perfect fruit to work with.
“I often joke with the winemakers by telling them that they have no excuse not to make winning wines from this calibre of grapes!”
According to Visser, Orange River Cellars is in the favourable position of making Muscadel wines that also have a loyal following among consumers.
“The Muscadel market has declined in the past few decades, but our brand is standing firm among Muscadel lovers,” says Visser. “It is good for us and for our region, but more importantly, good for South Africa and for Muscadel wines that are such a wonderful part of our industry.”
Orange River Cellars performed outstandingly in other categories of this Year’s Young Wine Show. Besides seven gold medals, the winery delivered four Class Winners for Rosé, White Cultivar Blend with Muscat (12g – 30g of residual sugar), White Muscadel below 16% and Special Late Harvest.