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Saturday, June 11, 2011


South African wines have done well in recent international competitions. One of the successful producers is the KWV, the Ko-operatieve Wijnbouwers-vereniging, which was established nearly a hundred years ago, in 1918, as a farmers’ co-operative to strengthen a struggling wine industry and is now a prosperous giant of the industry.

The KWV, which is based at Paarl in the Cape, produces wine under many different labels. One of them is the KWV Mentors range, and two of the wines in this group have been awarded gold medals at the celebrated Concours Mondial de Bruxelles in Brussels, Belgium.

The winning wines are the Mentors Chardonnay 2010, described as fresh and crisp with apricot, lime and mineral tones; and the Mentors Shiraz 2009, blackcurrant, mulberry, black pepper and spice nuances. Both wines retail in South Africa for about R115 a bottle.

Nearly 7,500 wines and spirits from 49 producer countries participated in the Brussels event, which took place over three days. Entries were judged by some of the world’s foremost tasters.

Another gold medal winner was KWV’s Cathedral Cellar Chardonnay 2010. This one is described as an elegant wine with layers of fruit: lime, citrus, orange blossom and peach. Price in South Africa: about R87.

The KWV owns the Laborie cellar at Paarl, and this too has won a gold at Brussels. The winner here is Laborie Alambic Brandy. This is a double-distilled potstill brandy that is rich and full, with dried fruit and raisin flavours. It comes in a distinctive tall, slim bottle and sells at R140. Alambic is the old word for a distilling apparatus.

Plaisir de Merle, the beautiful farm near Franschhoek owned by the Distell organisation, is also among the Brussels winners. The Plaisir de Merle Chardonnay 2009 has won a gold medal to add to medals won at international competitions by two earlier vintages of this wine. - Michael Green