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Top women panellists name Trophy winners at 2021 SA Women’s Wine & Spirit Awards

The 2021 SA Women’s Wine & Spirit Awards discovered some shining stars amongst the wines, spirits, and liqueurs entered and crowned the Woman Winemaker of the Year, Woman Distiller of the Year, Cap Classique of the Year, and Sparkling wine of the Year.

The luxurious Lanzerac Hotel and Spa hosted the sixth SA Women’s Wine & Spirit Awards. Michelle Grimbeek, the convenor of adjudicators, and her team received the all-female panel consisting of some of South Africa’s finest palates during the first week of October 2021. Lexus Stellenbosch supplied the vehicles for the occasion and Spiegelau the stemware. At the event, Spiegelau Expert Tasting glasses were used, designed, and made for this purpose. Apart from the wine panels, a specialised spirits and liqueur panel was selected to ensure that the cream rose to the top during the gruelling double-blind tastings.

Some of our partners that made this event a success

Scenes from the event

Judging during the 2021 tasting

The annual event aims to find worthy wines, spirits, and liqueurs judged by all-female panels and to award the best products entered.

Women make up a significant percentage of the wine and spirit buying public, yet surprisingly few marketing drives target women specifically. The SA Women’s Wine & Spirit Awards is the only competition in South Africa solely judged by women to make recommendations on what to buy and constitutes an increasingly important marketing tool.

The 2021 team that made it all possible.

The judges on the wine panel were Lizette Tolken CWM, Catherine Dillon CWM, Esme Groenewald, Tanja Beutler, Wanda Cronje CWM and Fiona Mcdonald. The judges on the spirit and liqueur panel were Dr. Caroline Snyman CWM, Dr. Carla Weightman, and Anriënka Vlok.

The Chardonnay wines varied, with some beautifully balanced wines, especially the 2020 vintage. Generally, there was good integration where wood was used, with great fruit expression.

We want to thank our partners in making this event possible:

Trophy winners

Salome Buys-Vermeulen from Lozarn Wines
Woman Distiller of the year – Lizl Giacomozzi from Comozzi gin
Sparkling wine of the year – Alvi’s Drift Brut Rosé 2021
Cap Classique of the year – Môreson’s Miss Molly Blanc de Blanc 2015
A view of the Manor House at Lanzerac Hotel and Spa

Wine entries

Panellists were impressed with the quality of entries in this year’s event. The biggest category was Cap Classique, followed by Sauvignon blanc and Blanc de Noir.

The sparkling wines, that were not bottle fermented, showed how versatile this category could be. This was a strong category of well-made wines and definite crowd-pleasers. Most examples had elegant fruit and balanced acidity and weight to them. The best examples were very Cap Classique-like with fine bubbles and a lot of persistence in the mouth.

The Cap Classique category ranged from fresh young wines, an array of non-vintage wines, and some stunning older vintage examples that were very complex with restrained development for their age. The younger Cap Classique wines were well made and represented the category well. The judges commented that we should be super proud of the Cap Classique wines in South Africa, and we could be counted as one of the best producers of this style.

Chenin blanc did well, and the quality was good throughout, especially the 2021 vintage. Some particularly good examples were well-balanced and expressive. The wooded examples generally had complexity, restraint, and balance. In general, the judges preferred Chenin blanc wines that were less acidic, fuller-bodied, with some oak contribution to compliment food.

Spiegelau Expert Tasting glasses

The Chardonnay wines varied, with some beautifully balanced wines, especially the 2020 vintage. Generally, there was good integration where wood was used, with great fruit expression.

The 2021 Sauvignon blanc wines were the stars of this category. Many of them were showing great varietal expression, good acidity, and balance. Sauvignon blanc was the single-variety white wine that impressed most. The judges commented that the Sauvignon blanc wines showed impressive quality, across the style spectrum, from green and dusty, to more tropical. It was good to see integrated acidity, and most of the wines were fresh, zesty, and juicy.

Wanda Cronje CWM tasting wine

The Rosé / Blanc de noir category showed a vast variance in style, with some expressive wines, fresh fruitiness, consistency in quality, and a strong style movement towards salmon colour. The judges generally prefer lighter coloured wines, with one commenting that darker Rosés are often perceived to be sweeter, without people even tasting them.

The red blends were a favourite, especially the Cape blends which are often not taken seriously enough. There was a 2013 blend that particularly impressed. The younger wines did not show as well and seemed to have aged quite quickly, which could be an indicator of the vintage challenges.

Shiraz is always a winner in South Africa. The older and the newer vintages all showed beautifully. The 2018 and 2019 did seem to show the influence of these drought-stricken vintages, but the wines still have the potential to age and develop well.

The Merlot wines were mostly elegant and showed varietal expression, with balanced red and dark fruit, judicious oak handling with soft smooth tannins.

Lizette Tolkin CWM tasting some wines

The Cabernet Sauvignon wines were generally big, with typicity of fruit and good potential. The younger wines still had tight tannins, and this will aid future development. Winemakers showed that they mastered tannin management.

There was a wonderful selection of Pinotage wines which were generally well made,  with beautiful red fruit and with great development in the older wines.

Spirit entries 

SA Women’s Wine & Spirit Awards again saw immense growth in the number of spirits entered.

The entries in the gin category dominated. There was diversity in style, especially in the ‘new styles gin’ and ‘London Dry gin’. There was a particular emphasis in several entries towards herbal and botanical driven styles, with some with citrus notes in between. The ‘London Dry’ category showed well, and it seems that some distillers are masters of their craft. The London Dry gins were the judges’ favourite category overall.

When asked how the judges preferred to drink their gin, they were generally in favour of keeping things simple, with craft tonic that is not too sweet, in a long glass with lots of ice, with a slice of lemon.

The general gin category impressed the panel with some interesting complex candy/ floral, layered notes.

There were some great grappa examples, yielding powerful aroma and flavour. The best examples were soft with some fruitiness.

Dr Carla Weightman tasting spirits
We want to thank our partners in making this event possible:

Details about the 2021 SA Women’s Wine & Spirit Awards will be announced in the last week of January 2021.

For enquiries, visit the website at https://www.sawwa.co.za/, or email Sanet at general@sawwa.co.za.