Local producers shine at the 2020 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show

Stellenbosch estates scooped up the awards at the 2020 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show. Of the 747 wines judged from 161 producers, 39 gold medals were awarded. Kleine Zalze walking away with the coveted Most Successful Producer of the Show, Muldersbosch with Best White Wine, and numerous other local estates being recognised by way of Best-in-Class awards.

The judges point out that the 2020 results maintain the show’s storied tradition and have reinforced its talent-scouting reputation. While comfortably more than half of the trophy winners had previously taken home an award for a best-in-class wine, several stepped into the limelight for the first time. The top producer for 2020 – Kleine Zalze – has been a multiple trophy winner, with awards across a number of categories – but this was the first time the cellar took home the coveted Old Mutual Trophy for the show’s most successful producer. It won the accolade as a result of trophies in the cap classique and chenin categories, as well as two silver medals and seven bronzes. 

Alastair Rimmer, cellar master of Kleine Zalze wines.
Alastair Rimmer, cellar master of Kleine Zalze wines.

The trophy for the show’s best shiraz – and best red wine overall – went to newcomer Trizanne Signature Wines for her Reserve Syrah 2018. The winner of the show’s best white wine was past laureate Mulderbosch – this time for the 2019 wooded sauvignon blanc. 

The Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show’s judging panels have proved extraordinarily consistent in honing in on the producers whose focus makes them natural laureates in particular categories. Many of the trophy winners have previously been on the competition’s podium – often in the same awards categories. Rustenberg’s multiple success with its Five Soldiers Chardonnay warrants a particular mention: at the 2013 competition, the 2011 vintage took home the Miele trophy for best chardonnay. This year the self-same wine won the museum class trophy while the 2018 vintage won the Miele trophy for best current-release chardonnay. Stellenbosch Vineyards has previously taken the niche white variety trophy for its verdelho, Buitenverwachting the dessert wine trophy for its “1769” dessert wine; Warwick won the cabernet franc trophy in 2018 while Kleine Zalze took home the Harold Eedes Trophy for the Show’s best chenin blanc in 2017. De Krans regularly wins the port (Cape vintage) trophy, just as the KWV dominates – as it did again this year – in the museum class port category, and Nuy the muscadel class. 

Of the 39 trophies and gold medals presented across the show’s various classes only 9 were awarded to producers who had never before received one of these accolades. These were trophy winners Durbanville Hills (for the best Sauvignon-Semillon blend) The Tangram 2018, Trizanne Signature Wines for the Reserve Syrah 2018 and gold medallists Cilmor, David Finlayson/Edgebaston, Mt Vernon, Le Grande Domaine/The Pledge, Hogan, Domaine des Dieux and Allee Bleue.

Overall the show highlighted the much improved vineyard conditions since the end of the devastating drought – and this partly explains the higher medal count relative to total entries across all categories. “The 2017 reds that were on the tasting benches reflected the extraordinary quality of that vintage,” said Show Chairman Michael Fridjhon. “The younger whites – notably from 2019 and a sprinkling of 2020s – speak luminously of the fabulous prospects still in store as our wine enthusiasts discover how well the vines have recovered. Many of the silver medalists were only deprived of their place amongst the golds because of the strength of the line-up this year. Now is the time to recognise that silver medallists at the OMTWS are comfortably gold medal wines in any other competition anywhere in the world,” said Fridjhon. 

Thobile Tshabalala, Head of Brand at Old Mutual Limited, says: “Time may change but the things that are important seldom do. Encouraging, inspiring and enabling people to become their exceptional best makes us proud to have once again, been a part of the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show. This highly acclaimed annual event is a highlight on the South African wine industry calendar and we are delighted at the number of entrants this year that still managed to produce exceptional quality wines even during the country’s Covid19 and economic challenging times. To achieve great things one must plan, nurture, learn and prepare. We congratulate this year’s winners and are grateful to Michael Fridjhon and his team for their role in providing such an invaluable platform of excellence and for raising the profile of our fine wines.” 

Partners American Express, Grande Roche Hotel, Miele and Riedel each have naming rights to a trophy. Other named awards include the chenin blanc trophy – named after the late Harold Eedes, who, as publisher of Wine Magazine in the 1990s, played a key role in South Africa’s chenin blanc renaissance. In 2012 the Trophy for Best Cape Port was named after the late Tony Mossop CWM.

Cross border travel restrictions forced the exclusion of the international judges whose presence has been a hallmark of the show since its inception. However, thanks to the work done by the Wine Judging Academy run under the auspices of Old Mutual and the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business a broad OMTWS 2020 – 3 range of judging talent was assembled from within the country’s borders. The judging panel was chaired by wine authority Michael Fridjhon. The first International co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge, and immediate past-chairman of the Six Nation’s Challenge, he has directed the show since the competition was launched in 2002.

This year’s panellists comprised a hugely experienced group whose members included Christian Eedes, editor of winemag.co.za, panel chair of innumerable category judgings and visiting panellist for competitions in Europe and Australia, Patson Mathonsi, sommelier and wine judge, now regional sales manager at Spier Wine Estate, Cathy van Zyl MW, an international judge and lecturer, primarily in Asia, and Narina Cloete, longserving Trophy Wine Show judge, as well as panellist at the Zarcillo International Wine Competition in Spain. Other senior panellists included François Rautenbach, who directs the Singita fine wine programme and has been a judge at the OMTWS for several years, JD Pretorius, formerly chief winemaker at Steenberg and now cellarmaster at Warwick, and Alexandra McFarlane, winemaker, viticulturist and Trophy Wine Show judge in 2018 and 2019. Champagne and Cap Classique specialist Heidi Duminy CWM, recently appointed principal of the Cape Wine Academy, Spencer Fondaumiere, ASI Sommelier and founder of Wineyard East Africa and Trizanne Barnard, owner-winemaker of Trizanne Signature Wines made up the cohort. In the interests of keeping numbers to a minimum (per Covid-19 rules), there were no associate judges invited to attend the show to hone their judging skills.

All the Trophy Winners

Old Mutual Trophy for Most Successful Producer Overall Kleine Zalze
Trophy for Best Shiraz and Old Mutual Trophy for Best Red Wine Overall Trizanne Signature Wines Reserve Syrah 2018
Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc and Old Mutual Trophy for Best White Wine Overall Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc 2019
Old Mutual Trophy for Discovery of the Show / Best Value Gold Medallist Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc Steen op Hout 2019 Old Mutual Trophy for Best Sparkling Wine Kleine Zalze Vintage Brut Méthode Cap Classique 2013
Harold Eedes Trophy for Best Chenin Blanc Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Chenin Blanc 2018
American Express Trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon Cederberg Five Generations Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Riedel Trophy for Best Bordeaux-Style Red Blend Morgenster Lourens River Valley 2014
Miele Trophy for Best Chardonnay Rustenberg Five Soldiers Chardonnay 2018
Trophy for Best Museum Class Chardonnay Rustenberg Five Soldiers Chardonnay 2011
Trophy for Best Cabernet Franc Warwick Estate Cabernet Franc 2017
Trophy for Best Pinotage Ormonde Basson Pinotage 2018
Grande Roche Trophy for Best White Blend Durbanville Hills The Tangram 2018
Trophy for Best Museum Class White Blend Cape of Good Hope Riebeeksrivier Caroline 2016 (Anthonij Rupert)
Trophy for Best Rhône-Style Red Blend Underworld Red 2019 (Strange Kompanjie / Wildeberg)
Trophy for Best Niche Wine Stellenbosch Vineyards Limited Release Verdelho 2019
Old Mutual Trophy for Best Unfortified Dessert Wine – Noble Late Harvest Buitenverwachting ‘1769’ 2017
Tony Mossop Trophy for Best Cape Port De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve 2017
Trophy for Best Museum Class Fortified Wine KWV Limited Release Port 1948

Gold Medal Winners

Allée Bleue Shiraz 2018
Bouchard Finlayson Kaaimasgat Crocodile’s Lair Chardonnay 2018
Buitenverwachting Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Cape Point Vineyards Isliedh 2018
Cilmor Limited Edition Wooded Chenin Blanc Viognier 2019
David Finlayson Camino Africana Cabernet Franc 2017 (Edgebaston)
Delaire Graff Botmaskop 2017
Des Dieux Chardonnay 2016 (Domaine Des Dieux)
Diemersdal Shiraz 2018
Hogan Chenin Blanc 2017
KWV Cathedral Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
Mt Vernon Galileo 2015 (Boutique Class Red Blend)
Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc Steen op Hout 2019
Neethlingshof Short Story Collection Maria Noble Late Harvest 2019
Nicky Versveld Sauvignon Blanc 2019
Nuy Celine Chardonnay Pinot Noir Cap Classique Brut NV (Boutique Class)
Nuy Rooi Muskadel 2010 (Museum Class)
Nuy Rooi Muskadel 2014
Springfontein Daredevils’ Drums Skins Agleam Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (Boutique Class)
Stark-Condé Round Mountain Sauvignon Blanc 2019
The Pledge Sauvignon Blanc 2020 (Le Grand Domaine)
Tokara Director’s Reserve White 2017