The finalists for the Diners Club Winemaker and Young Winemaker of the Year awards have been announced. Five winemakers have been shortlisted to compete for the prestigious Winemaker of the Year award, while six will vie for the Young Winemaker of the Year title.
Diners Club introduced the Winemaker of the Year award in 1981 to encourage local winemakers to raise the standard of wines produced in South Africa. 17 years later the Young Winemaker of the Year award was established to encourage winemakers under the age of 30 to develop their skills, express their individuality, and add to the future prestige of South African wines internationally. The Winemaker awards, now in its 38th year, and Young Winemaker in its 18th year, focusing on quality and recognition of excellence, are regarded as the country’s most prestigious and well-respected wine industry competition.
The competition is open to all in the South African wine industry at no cost, affording all winemakers a shot at the sought-after titles. While other awards focus on just the wine, the Diners Club Winemaker and Young Winemaker of the Year awards celebrate the skills and talent of the vintners. The awards are presented to the winemakers who produce a wine that the judging panel considers to be the best in a specified class. The categories for 2018 are Chardonnay single varietal wines for Winemaker of the Year, and Red Wines of any varietal or blend for Young Winemaker of the Year. As in previous years, winemakers can be shortlisted for more than one submission.
The field was narrowed down to the eleven finalists through rigorous judging over two days by a team of wine gurus, including renowned international judge, Michael O’Connell. All the judges agree that it will be a close race for the top prize, a clear indication that the finalist wines are outstanding. Judges examined each wine evaluating appearance, aroma, taste, aftertaste and overall impression.
The 2018 Diners Club Winemaker and Young Winemaker of the Year Finalists
Winemaker of the Year category: Chardonnay
Andries Burger – Paul Cluver Estate Wines – 2017 Seven Flags Chardonnay
Arco Laarman – Laarman Cellar Services at Avondale Wines – 2017 Chardonnay
Carl Van Der Merwe – DeMorgenzon – 2017 Reserve Chardonnay
Clayton Reabow – Môreson – 2017 Mercator Chardonnay
Murray Barlow – Rustenberg Wines – 2017 Five Soldiers Chardonnay
Ronell Wiid – Bartinney Private Cellar – 2017 Hourglass Chardonnay
Young Winemaker of the Year category: Red Wines
Bobby Wallace – Iona Vineyards – 2017 Pinot Noir
Juandré Bruwer – Diemersdal Estate – 2017 Shiraz
Philip Theron – Glen Carlou – 2017 Merlot and 2017 Curator’s Collection Malbec
Philip Viljoen – Bon Courage Estate – 2015 Inkara Cabernet Sauvignon
Rudger Van Wyk – Stark-Condé Wines – 2016 Stellenbosch Syrah
The 2018 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Judges
- Michael O’Connell – International judge
- Carrie Adams
- Debi Van Flymen
- Michael Crossley
- Nomonde Kubheka
- Ntsiki Biyela
The winners of both the Winemaker and the Young Winemaker of the Year awards will be presented at a black-tie gala dinner at La Residence Hotel in Franschhoek on 24 November 2017. The winning winemaker receives R50 000 and the Young Winemaker R25 000. Both winemakers also receive two return air tickets on Delta Airlines to any wine producing region in the USA.
2018 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Finalists:
Back left to right: Arco Laarman (Laarman Cellar Services at Avondale Wines), Ronell Wiid (Bartinney Private Cellar), Clayton Reabow (Môreson) and Andries Burger (Paul Cluver Estate);
Front left to right: Carl Van Der Merwe (DeMorgenzon) and Murray Barlow (Rustenberg Wines).