In a repeat of last year’s performance, the Kakamas Cellar dominated South Africa’s leading retailer-driven wine show, the Tops at Spar/Orange River Wine Competition. Kakamas, one of the five wineries in the stable of Upington-based Orange River Cellars, was announced winner of the competition’s Grand Champion Cellar Award for 2016. The awards were made on Saturday 15 October in Upington.

Kakamas also won the individual awards for Best Red Blended Wine (Ruby Cabernet/Shiraz/Petit Verdot), Best Matured Wine (White Muscadel 2012) and Best Single Vineyard Wine (White Muscadel). The award for Champion Winemaker went to Bolla Louw, the man in charge of operations at Kakamas Cellar. His assistant Marko Pentz was named Runner-Up Champion Winemaker

With the important role played by the viticulturists in ensuring Orange River Cellars receives the finest fruit from its vast region, this competition also awards the year’s Best Viticulturist and for 2016 this was Ockert Vermeulen – also from Kakamas.
This unique wine competition, now in its 15th year, celebrates the relationship between South Africa’s top wine retailer, Tops, and Orange River Cellars, the country’s largest winery which also supplies the wines for Tops’ private label, Carnival, as well as to incentivise winemakers towards improving overall wine quality.

For this annual highlight on the winemaking calendar, winemakers from Orange River Cellars’ five wineries – Upington, Groblershoop, Grootdrink, Kakamas and Keimoes – each make wines specifically for the competition.
The judging panel for 2016 comprised Tinus van Niekerk, one of South Africa’s foremost wine experts who is also consultant to Tops at Spar, international wine judges Neil Pendock and Fiona McDonald, Guy Webber from Stellenzicht, Ntsiki Biyela from Stellekaya Winery in Stellenbosch and Yonder Hill cellar-master Abé Beukes.
Speaking at the awards function, Tops at Spar CEO Mark Robinson said the quality of Orange River Cellars’ wines and the passion, skill and commitment of the local winemakers make it an honour for Tops at Spar to have a supplier such as Orange River Cellars in its fold.

“This competition epitomises the successful relationship between a winery and supplier,” he said. “As South Africa’s leading wine retailer, Tops at Spar and our customers need product of the highest standard supplied on a consistent basis of quality and volume. In this regards, Orange River Cellars continues to deliver year-in and year-out. We would like to think that this joint wine competition, a truly one-of-its-kind, contributes not only to our working relationship but also to the quality of wines we are able to offer to the most important link in the chain, and that is the customer.”

Judge Fiona McDonald, who has been on the judging panel since the inception of the competition, noted the panel’s amazement at the standard of this year’s white wines.

“We have come to expect high standards among the white wines entered into this competition, but the 2016 wines showed that Orange River Cellars’ different cellars have reached new levels of excellence,” she said.
“Chenin Blanc and Colombard – the two mainstay varieties – were delightfully fresh and vibrant. But it was the blended whites that blew me away. Chenin Blanc and Colombard, sometimes blended with Chardonnay, showed skilled, confident winemaking far removed from what we were seeing 10 or 15 years ago. The blending was seamless and showed a true understanding of the varieties’ personalities. And where wooding was done, this was unobtrusive and judicious.”
Besides the good showing from Kakamas, Orange River Cellars’ Keimoes Cellar won awards for Best Red Cultivar (Shiraz) and Best White Blended Wine (Colombard/Chenin).

The full list of awards for the 2016 Tops at Spar/Orange River Cellars Wine Competition:

AWARD

CATEGORY

  WINNER

GREAT GARIEP AWARD

BEST WHITE CULTIVAR

  Jopie Faul/Renier Baard

  Colombard

KATHU AWARD

BEST WHITE BLENDED WINE

  Rianco van Rooyen

  Colombard/Chenin

AUKARABIS AWARD

BEST RED CULTIVAR

  Rianco van Rooyen

  Shiraz

KALAHARI AWARD

BEST RED BLENDED WINE

  Bolla Louw

  Ruby Cabernet/Shiraz/

  Petit Verdot

GROOTDRINK AWARD

BEST MATURED WINE

  George Kruger

  White Muscadel 2012

RIEMVASMAAK AWARD

BEST CLASSICAL MUSCADEL WINE

  Riaan Liebenberg

  White Muscadel

KANONEILAND AWARD

RUNNER-UP
SINGLE VINEYARD WINE

  Wolseley Kennedy

  Winemakers:

  Jopie  Faul & Renier Baard

  Red Muscadel

 

KOKERBOOM AWARD

BEST SINGLE VINEYARD WINE

  Flip Lochner

  Winemaker: George Kruger

  White Muscadel

*ORANGE RIVER

AWARD

RUNNER-UP
CHAMPION WINEMAKER

  Marko Pentz

  Cabernet/Shiraz

*TOPS AWARD

CHAMPION WINEMAKER

  Bolla Louw

  Ruby Cabernet/Shiraz/Petit         Verdot

*SPAR AWARD

GRAND CHAMPION
WINE CELLAR

  Kakamas Cellar

*KHAMKIRRI AWARD

VITICULTURIST OF THE YEAR

  Ockert Vermeulen


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