Analysis

Veritas 2000: The year of the fortifieds

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The Veritas Awards is undoubtedly South Africa's most acclaimed wine competition. This annual event is essentially a competition for market-ready bottled wines. The 2000 Veritas Awards, the tenth consecutive, once again attracted a record number of entries (1,486) from 233 of South Africa's foremost producers.

Cellars compete for the sought-after double gold, gold, silver and bronze medals. Medals were awarded to 77% of the entries which included a number from Argentina as well as from Hungary. Judging for the 2000 event took place during September and the judging panels included eight international experts in conjunction with local specialist panels. The excellent organisation makes it a pleasure to be a judge at this competition.

In his address at the awards ceremony, Veritas Chairman Danie de Wet, expressed the view that although wine shows are expensive, they are essential. He urged all players in the industry to join forces to work together to implement a project to improve the quality of all wines. "I believe that this is the route that the industry should follow," he said.

Double gold medals were hard to come by - only 35 wines were adjudicated to be worthy of this prestigious award. This year's Veritas Awards will be remembered as the year in which the fortified wines (port, sherry, muscadel and jerepigo) were the top-performers. No less than eleven of the coveted double gold medals were awarded to the fortifieds , followed by red blends with seven and Cabernet Sauvignon with four double gold medals. Merlot and Chardonnay each received three double gold medals.

The stars of the new millennium's Veritas were Stellenbosch Farmers Winery with three double gold and six gold (all bar two gold medals were for fortified wines), Boland Vineyards International with three double gold (two for muscadel) and three gold (one of which was for muscadel) and Morgenhof Estate which clinched three double gold (one for a vintage reserve port)and two gold medals.

The big disappointment is that our home-bred Pinotage failed to make good and none of the highly acclaimed Pinotage producers names were among the top four medal winners. A single double gold (L'Avenir Estate 1999) and a threesome of gold medals (Groot Constantia 1999, Longridge 1998 and Tukula 1999 (a Stellenbosch Farmers Winery venture in the Darling area) awarded for Pinotage is a cause for concern, especially when one takes into account that most of the entries in this class were from the highly acclaimed 1999 and 1998 vintages.

Although Shiraz, increasingly popular and the focus of much attention of late, did not feature among the top accolades, this variety was awarded eight of the 102 gold medals.

It is exciting to see a couple of new names among the double gold medals: Du Plessis (Cabernet Sauvignon 1999), Durbanville Hills (Sauvignon Blanc 1999) and Rijk's Private Cellar (Sauvignon Blanc 2000).


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