Pieter de Bod from KWV, Christelle Reade-Jahn from SABF, Mare-Loe Prinsloo from Distell, Marlene Bester from Distell and Riaan Bredell from Distell.
Pieter de Bod from KWV, Christelle Reade-Jahn from SABF, Mare-Loe Prinsloo from Distell, Marlene Bester from Distell and Riaan Bredell from Distell

Two stalwarts of South Africa’s world-champion brandy industry were the biggest winners at this year’s Veritas Wine and Brandy Awards. Distell and KWV scooped the lion’s share of five Double Gold and 13 Gold medals conferred on Friday night at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Among the last major competitions for the year, the Veritas achievements for brandies underline a milestone year for the industry. For one, 2016 will always be remembered as the year South Africans were crowned makers of the best brandy and cognac at the world’s two major competitions for spirits – the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC) and International Spirits Challenge (ISC).

The South African brandy industry is not only a major contributor to our economy, but has now again demonstrated its excellence as a global contender,” says SA Brandy Foundation director Christelle Reade-Jahn. “While Veritas is very much a South African event, the international calibre of its judging panels speaks volumes about the global appeal of local brandies and these latest achievers in particular.”

The brandy assessment panel this year was headed by Cape Wine Master Dr Winifred Bowman and included Cognac cellar master Denis Lahouratate. “This is the second year I chaired the panel and, with the exception of the international judge, the first where it consisted entirely of Cape Wine Masters,” says Dr Bowman.

It is always very pleasing when the results are consistent with international and other competitions, bearing in mind that the judging panel is not always the same. This off course means quality and class shines through every time.”

A total of 39 brandies competed at the Veritas Awards this year and underwent scrupulous blind assessment. All but one received medals.

The medal tally among potstill entries comprised five Double Golds, 13 Golds, nine Silvers and three Bronzes; and, in the standard brandy category: three Golds, one Silver and four Bronzes.

The potstill brandy medal winners were:

Double Gold: Flight of the Fish Eagle Natural, KWV Alambic 15Y, Richelieu 10YO Vintage, Van Ryn’s 12YO Vintage and Van Ryn’s 15 YO Fine Cask Reserve.

Gold: Backsberg Sydney Back Aged 10Y, Boplaas 12Y, Collison’s White Gold, Joseph Barry XO, KWV 10Y, KWV 12Y Barrel Select, Laborie Alambic, Ladismith 8Y, Oude Meester Reserve 12Y, Oude Meester Souverein 18Y, Van Ryn’s 10YO Vintage, Van Ryn’s 20Y Collectors Reserve and Windmeul Kelder Reserve VSOP.

The Standard brandy gold medal winners were: Klipdrift Export Limited Edition, Klipdrift Premium, Oude Meester VSOB Liqueur.

These latest achievements again showcase the level of quality of South African brandy, which is underpinned by some of the most stringent legislation in the world. Unlike many international versions, local brandy must be distilled twice in copper potstills and aged for a minimum of three years in oak casks.  Legislation allows for three styles of brandy: potstill, vintage and blended, and brandies across all three feature regularly in the top echelons of local and international competitions.

Brandy was incorporated as a category at Veritas in 2010 in recognition of the unique 350-year South African heritage wine and brandy share as products of the grape. The competition itself is South Africa’s most highly esteemed indicator of quality in market ready wines and brandies.

Members of the public have the opportunity to experience these champion brandies when the Veritas Awards tastings of Double Gold and Gold medal wine and brandy winners are held in South Africa’s major cities over coming weeks.

For more information, contact Danie Pretorius, General Manager: SA Brandy Foundation via e-mail danie@sabrandy.co.za or visit www.sabrandy.co.za. Keep up to date with developments in SA brandy and follow on twitter @BrandyRocksSA.