News that Orange River Cellars, the Northern Cape’s leading wine cellar, has excelled with its delicious Muscadel wines is hardly news to wine consumers, but this year the producer’s long-running success story has truly reached new heights.
During the recent Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show, one of South Africa’s most influential wine competitions, Orange Rivers Cellars’ Red Muscadel 2012 was awarded the Trophy for Best Fortified Red Muscat.
This achievement follows hot on the heels of the annual Muscadel SA Competition where the cellar’s 2013 White Muscadel was awarded a gold medal yet again.
However it is the prestigious Old Mutual Trophy that really stands out in the awards cabinet and it can be seen as a new chapter in the recognition of Orange River Cellars and the Northern Cape as a premier wine producer, affirming the important contribution of this proud wine region to the South African wine landscape.
A total of 1040 wines were entered for this year’s Old Mutual Trophy, of which only 24 wines obtained Trophy status.
“The Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show, under the guidance of influential wine personality Michael Fridjhon, is not only an important South African wine competition, but is also internationally regarded as an important barometer of the developments in the local industry,” says Koos Visser, Marketing Manager of Orange River Cellars. “The judges of the competition include a number of international tasters and the criteria areso demanding that wine producers considered it an honour to win a bronze medal, not to mention a gold medal.”
“It is therefore a tremendous achievement to receive one of the highest accolades, namely a Trophy. And while it is an immense honour to win the Trophy, it is even bigger privilege to have the opportunity to represent our region on such a grand stage, and to see our wines receiving recognition alongside South Africa’s leading wine brands.”
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 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 26º and 30º 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!”
Visser says 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. “And later this year Orange River Cellars will introduce a new packaging for our Muscadel and other fortified wines that will take the market by storm in a big way. 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.”