Laborie bags trophies for best Cap Classique and best producer

Laborie bags trophies for best Cap Classique and best producer
Trophy winners in the Amorim Cap Classique Challenge 2023: Doug Lund (Newstead, Best Extended Ageing), Kobus van der Merwe (KWV Laborie, Best Blanc de Blancs and Overall Winner (Anton Smal, Newstead), Sacha Muller (KWV Laborie winemaker), Megan Mullis (Domaine des Dieux, Best Brut) and Mieke Karsten (Louisvale, Best Rosé), Bertrun Titus (Darling Cellars, Best Nectar). (Photo: Supplied)

The annual Amorim Cap Classique Challenge has been held since 2002, in collaboration with the Cap Classique Producers Association.

It’s 31 years since the term “Cap Classique” was officially first used in South Africa and winemakers have certainly come to the party in terms of their “champagne-style” wines. Today, it’s a vibrant category of wines produced at an incredible level – certainly able to compete against the best in the world.

The Amorim Cap Classique Challenge – held in a “spirit of joy, celebration and camaraderie” – saw a record number of wines competing for recognition as South Africa’s finest bubbly.

This year’s winner was a KWV brand, which bagged the trophy for Best Producer Overall for its Laborie Blanc de Blancs 2017.

Overall winner for Best Cap Classique at the Amorim Challenge Kobus van der Merwe, head winemaker responsible for white wine and Cap Classique at KWV, with KWV winemaker Sacha Muller. (Photo: Supplied)

Laborie, one of Paarl’s earliest estates, also won for Best Blanc de Blancs, while Domaine des Dieux’s Claudia 2017 won Best Brut, Louisvale MCC Rosé NV (Best Rosé), Newstead Blanc de Blanc 2016 (Best Extended Aged Cap Classique for vintages from 2016 and older) and Darling Cellars Nectar 2020 (Best Nectar).

Cape Wine Master and principal of the Cape Wine Academy, Heidi Duminy, convened the panel of judges. She told guests at the awards ceremony, held at the Mount Nelson Hotel’s Planet Restaurant, that on balance the quality and standard were extremely high this year.

“Congratulations to all of our beautiful businesses for creating such a vibrant category and for producing wines at such an incredible level. We have much to celebrate in the Cap Classique category on the whole as more producers are reaping the reward of patience with an obvious elevation in complexity, with time on the lees balanced by frisky fruit attitude and intricate fine bubbles.

“Our enduring impression on this year’s entries was very positive, with excitement about the continued development of a true South African identity in the various styles and expressions of Cap Classique. The bar has been raised.”

The challenge, sponsored by Amorim Cork – the world’s largest producer of cork wine closures – has been held annually since 2002, in collaboration with the Cap Classique Producers Association.

Joaquim Sá, MD of Amorim Cork in South Africa, said this year’s record number of competition entries – 157 wines – underscores the vibrancy of the Cap Classique category and the increasing number of producers active in this premium sector of South African wine.

“We have a record number of entries and a record number of awards. This means that the competition is achieving its objective: to help raise awareness and overall quality levels.”

Over the past decade, Cap Classique has entrenched itself as one of the Cape’s leading wine offerings and a brand in itself. Sá says the Cap Classique Association has played a vital role in inspiring producers to make better wines and to elevate awareness.

Leading wine authority Michael Fridjhon was awarded the Frans Malan Legacy Trophy for his work in promoting South African wine. Fridjhon was also the convener of a group of Cap Classique producers who met in Swaziland in 1992 to discuss the future of the category, which brought about the establishment of the Cap Classique Producers Association.

The late Malan pioneered secondary bottle-fermentation at his family estate Simonsig in South Africa in 1971.

These are the gold medal winners:

Double Gold Blanc de Blancs

Simonsig Cuvée Royale 2018

Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2018

Newstead Blanc de Blancs 2018

L’Ormarins Blanc de Blancs 2018

Double Gold Brut

Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut 2019

Pongracz Desiderius 2015

Graham Beck Cuvée Clive 2018

Double Gold Extended Ageing

Lourensford Cuvée 124 2011

Weltevrede Philip Jonker The Ring 2013. DM

For the full list of results, go to


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