Natural, green, eco-friendly, healthy, better‚ there’s a growing interest in everything organic, with wine being no exception. Consumers, in South Africa and the world over, have become more cognisant of the effects of farming on the environment and aware that the way in which produce is treated before it reaches supermarket shelves affects our health. It’s heartening to see how enthusiastically South African wine producers are responding by going green; adopting environmentally friendly, organic farming methods that put our well-being and the well-being of the land first. To help consumers understand the different shades of green, as well as to acknowledge how far organically grown wines have come in terms of quality, the Nedbank Green Wine Awards were launched in 2009.
The competition is divided into two categories:
Best Wine from Organically Grown Grapes (rated according to the 20-point/5 Star system) and Best Environmental Practices (judged by a panel of four environmental experts).
Best Wine from Organically Grown Grapes:
Producers were invited to submit wine from organically grown grapes, a condition of entry being that submissions be accompanied by valid certification. This year there were 49 entries from 11 different producers, and these were divided up into categories according to grape variety or style and tasted blind by a threeperson panel, with scoring done according to the 20-point/5 Star system. The panel examined each wine purely on its own merits and, given that the line-up was so disparate, the awards were decided upon only after judging had been completed. This year’s panel was comprised of the esteemed judges Christian Eedes (Panel Chairperson), Cathy van Zyl and Fran?ois Rautenbach.
It’s clear that green wine remains a niche sector ‚ entries were down this year to 49 wines from 11 producers, compared to 50 from 16 in 2010 and 51 from 19 in 2009 ‚ with farming organically both more expensive and riskier than farming conventionally. A common question is whether wines made from organically grown grapes taste better or at least different. The short answer is no, not even a professional taster is going to be able to discern a wine made from organically grown grapes from a conventional one with any real degree of confidence. That a wine is made from organically grown grapes does not make it taste better or worse and, as with the industry as a whole, quality ranges from outstanding to awful. If truth be told, the feeling among this year’s judging panel was that overall quality of the wines in the line-up was a little behind that of the overall industry, as if so much effort and resources are going into farming organically that winemaking is being neglected. That said, the wines were given no special privileges simply for being made from organically grown grapes and readers can purchase the top-performing examples with complete confidence, knowing that there’s more to them than simply being a ‚lekker dop’.
Best White and Best Wine Overall was Reyneke Chenin Blanc 2010, Best Red was Laibach The Ladybird Red 2010 and Best Natural Sweet was Stellar Heaven on Earth Natural Sweet NV. Featuring in this year’s guide are 21 white wines, 28 red wines and 6 other wines (including sweet and rose wines). Below we have listed the top 10 wines overall to give you a taste of what to expect in the guide.
Top 10 wines in the Nedbank Green Wine Awards
Reyneke Chenin Blanc 2010 ‚ R100
Waverley Hills 2010 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc ‚ R45
Laibach Ladybird Red 2010 ‚ R85
Stellar Organic Heaven on Earth ‚ R59
3 1/2 Stars
Reyneke Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc 2010 ‚ R55
Laibach Woolworths Merlot 2010 ‚ R85
Reyneke Sauvignon Blanc 2010 ‚ R80
Waverley Hills Shiraz 2009 ‚ R50
Wedderwill 17¬∞C 2008 ‚ R53
Waverley Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ‚ R50
Best Environmental Practices Award:
This category of the Nedbank Green Wine Awards highlights those producers that farm in a sustainable manner, while giving back to the environment and community in which they exist. Entrants to the Best Environmental Practices Award are assessed on water management, conservation of natural areas and ecosystems, energy efficiency/ reduction of carbon emissions, soil management, chemical control and other environmental initiatives (from education programmes and community involvement to eco-tourism).
A minimum condition of entry is a 70% IPW rating from the WWF Biodiversity & Wine Initiative. There
were 10 entrants and the panel consisted of Tom McLaughlin (Good Business Journey project manager for Woolworths Foods), soil scientist Lourens van Schoor (head of IPW auditing body Enviroscientific), Inge Kotze (senior manager, WWF Sustainable Agriculture Programme) and Johan Reyneke of Reyneke Wines.
The top contenders in this category were:
Paul Cluver, Elgin
La Motte, Franschhoek
Waverley Hills, Tulbagh
We would like to congratulate all the wine farms and wine makers who endure to promote this farming practice and the delectable wines that are a produce thereof! The Nedbank Green Wine Awards booklet can be found in the December issue of Getaway Magazine (Exclusive Books and Woolworths stores only).