Year seven brings a brilliant set of results for Cape vineyards!
A stellar set of winning results now offers budget conscious wine lovers the finest wine choices. Brought to you by SA’s unique, long standing ‘best value’ competition.
This is the seventh set of Ultra Value Wine Challenge results; a proud and very special moment. The UVC competition identifies the very best wine buys that sell for under R130 per bottle. This is the largest price point sector in SA wine. It puts consumers in first place by giving them a trusted list of high quality, well-priced wines. They are currently available to buy right now, making the results both practical and useful. The Ultra Value Wine Challenge attract huge support from quality producers and vineyards, who themselves have built enviable reputations, based on tip top quality and affordable pricing.
Robin von Holdt reviews the 2021 Challenge:
'Wine lovers on budgets are in for delicious drinking treats! The list of top quality budget conscious wines identified below is a suite of tantalising treats. Winning wines were judged to offer gorgeous flavours for immediate enjoyment. They are really good wines to be enjoyed right now. Moreover, they don’t break the budget. It’s that simple!
Support remains strong from producers, vineyards and brands in this key market segment. The enthusiasm for this compelling price-category competition is pleasing. Devoted wine drinkers remain committed to enjoying their lifestyles and habits. Of course price is the decider with ongoing economic challenges driving most decisions. Affordability remains key. The Ultra Value Challenge is designed to support this wine loving community, as well as the wineries who are committed to maintaining such attractive quality price ratios. The UVC does so in a practical fashion, identifying top value wines according to a specific combination of bottle price and wine quality.
If the price is right, then what remains is to focus on great quality. Delicious, value-for-money winning wines, allows both wine lovers and wineries to come together in a very happy co-existence. Both are now winners!
Our thanks go to our loyal supporters as well as to new entrants Our congratulations go to all of the producers of these fine winning wines, who put so much effort into making delicious wines at great prices. Well done!’
'Panel judges were of the general view that 2021 saw another step up in quality. Improved viticulture standards resulted in fresher, more enjoyable fruit. Cellar work comes across as less interventionist, oak being less overt and generally greater sensitivity is being applied. The consequence is tasty, juicy, fresh wines that can appeal on their own, or be enjoyed over a meal. Judges found it a pleasant experience to find the better wines, despite a number of entrants simply not achieving the required quality threshold.’
’'The experienced judges applied their expertise by assessing every wine with diligence and care. Wines were all tasted ‘blind’ and in similar flights. Judging panels took responsibility for even handed reviews, looking for positives while maintaining the expected rigour. The exciting set of results made public today, represents their commitment to finding wine lovers the best value, high quality wines, possible.
A strong percentage of wines gained recognition and won an award. Very good wines were identified. You will find their quality unmissable, as is the enjoyment that they provide. The initial quality hurdle was applied diligently and consistently. A number of wines did not get through this, as is always the case. Thereafter, the algorithm that takes price into account, in order to arrive at the value-adjusted final result, saw another layer of wines fall aside.
Victories are as special, and as deserved, as they always have been. Wineries and their teams can be justifiably proud of their winning achievements. Awards were confirmed by the independent review of the stellar 2021 results.’
Ginette De Fleuriot
Sauvignon Blanc: A pleasing flight with some delightful wines. Much less bland lemon-water than in previous years. Some wines had beautiful fruit expression, true to variety. Integrated rather than abrasive acidity on the whole and some with chalky, steely length & interest.Fresher rather than hollow or dilute mid-palates.
Rose: Consistently pleasing, no great outliers. Colour wise, a fantastic flight, bright, pale, coral, onion–skin, pale salmon hue. Most poised, balanced, elegant, quaffable, playful to very enjoyable and more serious style. Red appleskin, cranberry fruit rather than soft, squishy strawberry. Highly commendable!
Shiraz: Not too many gems, some decidedly more ‘red’ wine, rather than Shiraz. Sadly, lacking fruit and plushness. Some however showed attractive berry compote fruit & perfume with some pleasing mid-palate weight, without over-oaking or any over-ambition.
Merlot: A much stronger category. Still some thin, weedy, green examples with lack of expression, but some stand-out wines, head and shoulder above all tasted today and then a few almost as good with very pleasant red berry, plum fruit, plusher/silky palate & some length: enjoyable wines, accessible and fruit driven.
International standards of judging are applied. This means that under 50% of entered wines achieved an award. This highlights emphatically the prestige of each winning wine. A who’s who line up of wines yielded a great set of results. Rigorous judging saw around 7% of wines gain Double Gold Medal awards. 20% of wines gained Gold Medal awards. Silver Medal awards were strictly judged too, with over 18% scooping up an award. As always, awards were difficult to achieve. They were well deserved and hard earned and not simply handed out willynilly.
Double Gold awards went to just 33 wines. 16 red wines, 15 white wines and 1 fortified wine and 1 MCC cracked the all-important nod. Scores achieved were all 91/100 or higher with the highest score this year again achieving a remarkable 99/100. Red wines: Cabernet again lead the way with 5 awards. Pinotage achieved 4 awards with Merlot gaining 3 wins. Shiraz, perhaps surprisingly, only managed a single victory. For white wine: Chenin Blanc again led the field, achieving 6 awards. Sauvignon Blanc managed 4 awards. Chardonnay achieved a solid 3 victories. A solitary fortified managed a Double Gold award.
Gold Awards went to only 92 wines. Red wines achieved 41 positions while white wines gained 38 wins. Rose wines achieved 9 medals while MCC managed to gain 5 awards. This category of winning wines all achieved a score between 85 and 90/100 which was consistent with 2020 results. Red wine had a different set of results than might usually be predicted: This year Merlot lead the charge with a total of 9 victories. Shiraz followed with 8 wins, then the category of ‘Other Red Blends’ (not Cape Blends) managed a stellar 8 awards. Cabernet gained 5 victories while Pinotage was awarded 4 Gold medals. For white wine: Chenin trumped this year with 13 victories. Sauvignon managed to achieve a solid 11 awards. Chardonnay achieved a total of 4 Gold medals. Rosé was rewarded with 7 Gold awards and MCC gained a total of 3 wins.
Silver Awards were awarded to just 81 participants. 38 medals went to red wine. 32 medals went to white wines. Rosé wines achieved 7 awards, while MCC achieved 3 wins and Port gained a solitary victory. Red wine: Pinotage led with 11 victories. Shiraz followed with 6 wins. Bordeaux and Merlot both won 5 medals each and Cabernet won 4 awards. White wines: Chenin pipped Sauvignon with 13 compared to 12 Gold medals.
Overall medal count for the 2021 Ultra Value Wine Challenge: Red wines gained 95 medals. White wines gained 85 medals. Rosé wines achieved 17 medals. MCC was awarded 8 medals. Fortified & Port gained 2 medals.
Medals won by cultivar: Chenin 32. Sauvignon 27. Pinotage 19. Merlot 17. Shiraz 15. Cabernet 14.
Wines from vintages 2018 to 2021 were winners in this year’s competition. The majority of these were from 2021 (92). 2020 had 67 winners. 2019 had 21 winners while 2018 had 7 winners. Non-Vintage wines accounted for 19 winning wines.
With regards to results by vintage for Double Gold winners: 2021 cracked the winning number of 14 top awards. This was followed by 2020 with 10 wins.
Other Red Cultivars: The Grenache Noir and the Malbec stood out with varietal character & some presence, great examples. The Malbec’s were delightfully perfumed and elegant but poised fruit & support to carry it.
Other White Blends: A very pleasing flight! Some showed beautiful balance – expressing fruit, integrated acidity and delightful drinking. The rest will still have good commercial appeal.
Cape Blends: A pleasant flight – Pinotage delivered the fruit. Some perfumed, fynbos, brambly fruit with sufficient tannic support. Pleasant drinking for a large consumer base.
Off Dry & Semi Sweet: Some pleasant surprises, not just riding a wave of sugar. Most are playful, poolside quaffers with appealing fruit and decent RS-acid balance.
Other White Cultivars: Some great finds, but some wines that lack attention. Overall wines that offer great drinkability immediately and uncomplicated.
Bordeaux Blend Red: A couple of clear winning wines with true BB character. The rest were a mixed bag but on the whole lacking the definition and gravitas that this category should and usually does offer.
Chenin Blanc: Great flight and flag bearer for South Africa. Clean, attractive and generous wines as a whole. Great management of fruit and some nice crunchy acidities which made this category amazing! Definitely more care taken by the winemakers in producing these wines, which made this category more exciting and fantastic value for money.
Other Red Blends: Not a bad flight, fairly safe though and uninspiring. A pity as it would be nice to see more interesting varieties entering into these blends. On the whole, clean wines with good polished tannins.
MCC & Sparkling: Overall an underwhelming flight. A pity more at this level aren’t embracing commercial palates through varieties like muscato etc. They make for delicious commercial wines without having to clean-up with additional RS. One stood out above the rest.
Port & Fortified: A smaller category and seriously to be celebrated. Great wines at great value! Need to drink more!
Pinotage: A slightly disappointing flight. Generally the wines were appealing and well thought through. Unfortunately a large amount were over-wooded and absorbed all the fruit on the palate, leaving a dry and quite tannic finish. Having said that, there were some great classic examples in the line-up as well.
Chardonnay:Great category to taste! Good expression of fruit and some really good examples of unwooded Chard, that deliver some great Summer drinkability, fresh, crisp and well made. Something to keep an eye on going forward.
Cabernet Sauvignon: A difficult category to judge. A number of different styles and interpretations of Cab Sauv. In general, good fruit management and tannins. A few bad wines, but nice commercial angle on most of the wines tasted. Definitely lots of thought gone into making these wines appealing for the market.
Ultra Value Challenge Celebrates the Special Awards
Vineyard Consistency Awards
The consistent achievement of high-quality wines as measured by benchmark accolades, is a characteristic that underpins, globally, all great vineyards. As a consequence of this qualitative fact, one proven only with time, the UVC Challenge now also assesses and awards those top ranking vineyards that have proved to be consistently at the fore throughout the 7 years of this value-wine competitions history. At this stage and over the full seven year period, there are now five vineyards in leading positions with between 51 and 76 winning wines. This stellar performance is a remarkable endorsement of each winners vineyards, their cellar teams, as well as their wine making skills and abilities.
Incredibly, to totally and utterly endorse the meaning and status of consistency, all of these winning producers retain their identical place, to last year! We are now thrilled to congratulate the following winners.
Nicholson Smith Agencies - First place
Alvi's Drift Private Cellar - Second place
Accolade Wines SA - Third place
Robertson Winery - Fourth place
Koelenhof Wynkelder - Fifth place
Wine of the Year Award; a Red, White, Sweet & MCC wine
We had decided to add this category to our special awards. It feels appropriate that, with our track record and experience, we should now also identify during the judging process, and promote, those four individual wines that stand apart from every other value wine. One white wine, one red wine, one sweet wine & one MCC only, those four wines that each achieve the single highest judged score in their generic colour band during the competition.
Red Wine of the year: We are pleased to congratulate -
Stellenbosch Hills Merlot 2018
White Wine of the year: We are pleased to congratulate -
uniWines Vineyards Goudini Chenin Blanc 2021
Then for the first time we also announce and congratulate MCC Wine of the year -
Nicholson Smith Agencies Pandora's Box The Biscuit Tin Sparkling Brut NV
Again for the first time we also announce and congratulate Sweet Wine of the year -
Van Loveren Family Vineyards Red Muscadel 2020
The additional level of recognition and endorsement that these unique achievements bring to vineyards, as well as to their wine making teams, is of tangible brand and commercial value and benefit. Each one of these awards offers a further enhancement of credibility and reputation, providing positive local market impact together with an enhanced global awareness and brand footprint. It also provides for differentiation of and recognition for their brands uniqueness and USP’s.
The top 10 highest-scoring wines
uniWines Vineyards Goudini Chenin Blanc 2021 99/100
Stellenbosch Hills Merlot 2018 97/100
uniWines Vineyards Meander Shiraz 2020 96/100
Leopard's Leap Wines Leopard's Leap Sauvignon Blanc 2021 95/100
Mountain Ridge Wines De Liefde Chenin Blanc 2021 95/100
Van Loveren Family Vineyards VL Sauvignon Blanc 2021 95/100
Allée Bleue Chenin Blanc 2020 94/100
Opstal Wines Sixpence Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2021 93/100
Van Loveren Family Vineyards Rhino Run Pinotage 2020 93/100
Van Loveren Family Vineyards VL Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 93/100
Double Gold Medals 33
Gold Medal Winners 92
Silver Medal Winners 81
Top multiple winning vineyards include:
Accolade Wines SA - 17 wins
Perdeberg Wines - 17 wins
Van Loveren Family Vineyards - 14 wins
UniWines - 12 wins
Alvi's Drift Private Cellar - 11 wins
Leopard's Leap Wines - 10 wins
Koelenhof Wynkelder - 10 wins
Robertson Winery - 10 wins
Nicholson Smith Agencies - 9 wins
Opstal Wines - 7 wins
Bon Courage Wine Estate - 6 wins
Ken Forrester Wines - 6 wins
McGregor Winery - 6 wins
Mount Vernon Farm - 6 wins
Some industry comments from awarded vineyards follow:
Accolade Wines SA
Gerhard Swart, Head Winemaker: “We’re excited to have our latest vintages of Flagstone and Fish Hoek fare well in what is now a well-known competition, indicating quality and value for money,” says Gerhard Swart - Head Winemaker at Accolade Wines South Africa. “We’re thankful for the support of our immediate communities in the Cape Winelands, and to be able to share the wines’ accolades and quality with wine lovers across South Africa is absolutely what we love working towards.”
Albertus Louw, Cellarmaster: “We are very pleased to have been rewarded with a total of 17 awards in this year’s challenge – each wine entered was bestowed a medal of achievement - and we’re grateful for the Ultra Value Wines Challenge where quality is celebrated! It was no surprise that all of our wines entered performed so well as it is a well-known fact that dry land influenced vineyards produce wines of excellence. Well done to the Perdeberg team!”
Van Loveren Family Vineyards
Bussell Retief, Cellar Master: "We are incredibly proud of these accolades, an attestation to our vineyard and winemaking teams’ efforts managing the very best vineyards in the Robertson valley in a site-specific manner to produce the best quality wine. The fact that the results of our efforts are recognised in this manner by industry peers is especially heart-warming in the year when we celebrate our 40th brand birthday, and the launch of our new Van Loveren packaging."
Winemaking team: "Thank you to the Ultra Value Wine Challenge for awarding us with these amazing results, we are truly proud of our winemaking teams involved and feel inspired by their positive- and enduring spirit through challenging harvest times. We are excited to see what the 2022 harvest holds and can’t wait to bring you continuous quality wines from the Breedekloof."
Alvi's Drift Private Cellar
Dr Alvi Van der Merwe, Winemaker & Co Owner: "Thank you to Robin and the Ultra Value awards team for another well-orchestrated event.
A great wine needn’t be the most expensive on the shelf. We strive to provide real value to our friends around the world and it is truly an honour to receive recognition from this panel for just this. Keep up the great work."
Nicholas Husselman, Winemaker: "We are so pleased to be awarded 1 Double Gold, 5 Gold and 4 Silver awards in this year’s Ultra Value Wine Challenge. 2021 marks Koelenhof’s 80th year of existence since established in 1941, winning these accolades makes this celebration extra special.Thanks to our amazing team at Koelenhof, we dedicate ourselves to deliver the best quality wines at affordable prices. It brings us so much joy to share this with our clients."
Rianco van Rooyen – Robertson Winery, Cellar Master: "These results show that the last two harvests at Robertson Winey have been exceptional. Even with a record-breaking harvest in 2021 we were still able to produce wines of exceptional quality that exude the Robertson valley terroir. Thanks must go to the viticulture team as well as the producer farmers who managed the vineyards well and to the excellent cellar team at Robertson Winery. Truly an achievement worthy of our motto 'More to Share'!"
Nicholson Smith Agencies
Jason Neal, Owner: "A true honour again 9 medals in total out of 9 wines entered, and best over wine in the Pandora’s Box biscuit tin sparkling brut, we are truly humbled. In these extremely trying times it is very welcome to receive these awards. With economic times at their hardest in our life times the average consumer has been pushed to the brink and these awards accolades have become even more relevant that they have in the past. I would like to thank my winemaking team for constantly producing great quality wines that far exceed their price point."
Philip Viljoen, Winemaker: "We are absolutely delighted with the results. What a privilege to be awarded for doing what you love!"
Ken Forrester Wines
Ken Forrester, Owner: It’s always wonderful to be acknowledged by one’s peers and to see the entire Petit Range earning awards and such glowing recognition is truly wonderful. We look to 100% hand harvested fruit for the Petit wines, we guarantee sustainability and way lower than industry standard SO2 (we don’t like the stuff!) and we promise “LEKKER WINE” and simply great value.
I’ve always wanted an everyday drinking wine that’s great value and easy enough to repeat if necessary!! Do it - try one, or two (sips, glasses etc) and call me in the morning!
Abè Rossouw, CEO: “Our success is due to good long term planning and cooperation between our growers our viticulturist our winemaking team and our customers."
Cape Jewel Wines
"Kosher Sales are very proud of the results and we are pleased that the strategy of linking sight specific vineyards to certain wine styles are reflected in the results of the Ultra Value Awards . We shall always be committed to continuous innovation and improvement."
Pieter Niel Rossouw, Head Winemaker: "We are very grateful and humbled by the great results that our wines received at the Ultra Value Wine Challenge. This shows that the dedication and passion in our wine, from grape to glass, are recognised. The Darling appellation is very unique and we try to show the consumer all the different possibilities in our wines. These awards are a tribute to every single person that contributed to these wines."
Christoff de Wet, Winemaker: “We at De Krans are very happy with these awards that we have received and it shows that a region that is famous for its Port style wines also make a beautiful classical range of fantastic dry wines with great value. I see De Krans as the biggest little winery in the Klein Karoo, a place to never expect a dull moment!”
Francois Roode, Winemaker: "We are excited to receive this achievement, Gold for our Rose 2021, pink the next big thing in the wine industry. We have worked hard in the vineyard and cellar to create a premium quality Rose that has an ever growing demand, selling out year after year. We are ever happy for this achievement and thankful."
Charl Myburgh, Winemaker: "Stellenbosch Hills is renowned for making quality and enjoyable wines," says winemaker CharlMyburgh. "These awards - from a major competition - are a credit to the work of a team that I've just joined and which, like our vineyards, has a consistent record of excellence. Now, when you're looking for a good wine of great value for your table this festive season, you can confidently make it one from Stellenbosch Hills!"
“It's time to celebrate, because we've just been honoured with 4 awards at this year's Ultra Value Wine Challenge! Congrats to our amazing team in the cellar & in the vineyards - we are extremely proud!”
Mountain Ridge Wines
Johan Schwartz, CEO: "We are delighted with the competition results which emphasize the constant quality of wines we produce. The consisted accolades confirm and rewards the incredible efforts of the producers and winemaking team to always strive to produce quality wine (no matter the quantity)."
Dirk van Zyl, Cellarmaster& Winemaker: “The entire Saxenburg team is elated with the results of this year’s Ultra Value Wine Awards. With both our Guinea Fowl White and Red we strive to over deliver on quality and to receive medals for both wines, serve as further confirmation that we are delivering on that promise.”