This wine strikes the balance between drinkability and age-worthiness, arguably one of the toughest achievements in winemaking – winemaker Johan Jordaan.
In a South African wine market featuring thousands of different wines and a myriad of competitions, evaluations, growing participation and judging sophistication, the undisputed standout award today is Veritas Vertex – won for the second time this year by Spier, with its 2018 Creative Block 5 blend.
The award now honours the late legendary industry role player Duimpie Bayly and it boldly names one overall winner in the country’s longest-running and most prestigious wine competition.
The significance of Spier Wines near Stellenbosch taking this Award cannot be over-emphasised. And even more so, the fact that Spier also won this inaugural pinnacle trophy in 2017, with the Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2015.
This year’s star of the show, from among almost 1 300 entries, was the 2018 Spier Creative Block 5 blend – clinching the hand-crafted glass trophy which was handed over to Spier cellarmaster Johan Jordaan during the awards luncheon at the Val de Vie Estate Polo Club, Paarl.
The Spier Creative Block 5 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Petit Verdot/Malbec 2018 was in the first place one of four Spier wines winning coveted Double Gold, before being named the top wine.
Spier’s Creative Block range is this farm’s creative take on traditional Rhône, Bordeaux and Cape style blends – where the winemakers carefully select grapes from different vineyard blocks, combining and blending taste profiles to create wines that are much greater than the sum of their parts.
The range takes its name from a Spier Arts Academy project that combines artworks from various artists and rearranges them in so-called “blocks” to produce something new. This embodies the principle of creatively blending different varietals from select vineyard blocks that results intriguing wine blends. It comprises four ‘block-numbered’ wines, respectively the 2 (Bordeaux type white) and blended reds 3 (Rhône), 5 (Bordeaux) and 8 (Cape). The latter, of course, features Pinotage in the composition that may vary from vintage to vintage.
Spier’s other Double Gold winners this year were Spier Frans K Smit White 2018, Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2020 and Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2015, in addition to five Gold.
Another highlight of Spier’s illustrious Veritas showing and a Veritas record, is its haul of nine Double Gold and seven Gold at the 2019 Awards, strongly featuring the 21 Gables and Creative Block ranges.
This all in the spirit of the family-owned farm’s tradition of combining creativity and craft – both old and new – where the farm’s beautiful Cape Dutch buildings have been meticulously restored. The farm houses artworks from the Spier Art Collection – one of the largest collections of contemporary work in the country. Spier is one of the Cape’s oldest wine farms, with a recorded winemaking history dating back to 1692.
But back to the creative blockbuster of the day, the phenomenal “5” that’s now the country’s number 1. The blend comprises 47% Cabernet Sauvignon / 31% Merlot / 10% Cabernet Franc / 9% Petit Verdot / 3% Malbec – from cooler pockets in the Cape Coastal Region, at Groenekloof (Darling) and Stellenbosch, with ideal soils, situated only 7 – 20km from the cold Atlantic Ocean.
Jordaan explains his sophisticated preparation at the heart of this palate-pleasing creation – where the coolest slopes were chosen for slow ripening and ultimate flavour. The hand-harvested grapes were pre-cooled, destemmed and individually sorted and fermented in stainless-steel tanks for up to 21 days. Malolactic fermentation and maturation took place in 300L French oak barrels for 18 months.
The components were individually crafted for each varietal to reach its highest potential. Selective tasting determined the composition and expert blending ensured harmony and the ultimate balance of fruit, palate volume, oak extract and tannins – all without losing any varietal characteristics.
“Full-bodied, deep ruby red. Blackberry, cherry and blackcurrant is supported by cedar, dark chocolate and hints of fennel. Great balance and dense tannins.” What’s more, as if this is not already the ultimate, “The taste will be enhanced by ageing.”
“Blending a wine from five different grapes allows us to make a balanced, seamless wine with integrity and character that reflects the origin of the fruit and should still be able to show this for another ten or so more years. I think this wine strikes the balance between drinkability and age-worthiness, arguably one of the toughest achievements in winemaking.
Winning a best of show award like this is just a fantastic acknowledgment to the absolute effort and tireless pursuit of our winemaking and vinicultural team to make a wine that we can be proud of and that our wine friends can enjoy, said Jordaan.
He has been invited to attend a tasting in London in April 2022 of this year’s Veritas Double Gold winners, organised by international Veritas judge and BBC TV presenter Joe Wadsack, in the company of the past two Veritas Vertex winners’ winemakers in 2019 and 2020. They are Megan Parnell from Domaine des Dieux and Izelé van Blerk from KWV – whose respective planned visits to present their world-class wine tastings at this event could not take place due to travel restrictions. They will – should the travel restrictions permit – also be doing an educational tour to France. These intended annual visits are made possible by a partnership between Veritas and Vinventions, a global leader in complete wine closure solutions, since 2019.
Meanwhile, true to the spirit of Veritas, a worthwhile volume of this year’s Vertex star is available for purchasing from the farm and online via the VinoVeritas app.
For more information, visit www.veritas.co.za or contact the Veritas office at tel 021 8631599, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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Issued by Veritas Awards
Contact Bennie Howard, Vice-chairman or Elsabé Ferreira, GM