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Lydenburg Wine Guild blends themselves into the finals of the Blaauwklippen 2018 Blending Competition

One of the most beneficial ways to gain more knowledge on the subject of wine is to share the experience of tasting wines with like-minded friends.

Most wine clubs try to meet at least once a month. Some clubs are perhaps a little more serious with their tastings than others but in the end, they all offer a great way of learning more about the wonders of the fermented grape!

Generally, this means that members of clubs who have been around for some time should have a reasonable idea of what they enjoy drinking as well as knowing a lot more about how wine is produced.

Blaauwklippen Wine Estate

Recognising this as an opportunity, Blaauwklippen Wine Estate offers the oldest wine club contest, called the Blaauwklippen Blending Competition (BBC), which in 2018 is celebrating its 35th year.

This competition has become an institution on wine club calendars and definitely gives the clubs something to look forward to each year.

Amateur wine clubs purchase the BBC blending kit from Blaauwklippen and then try their hand at blending the “perfect wine” after which they will submit their blend analysis for judging by a panel of professional wine experts.

The objective is to give South African wine enthusiasts a real-life taste of the wine industry, as well as a chance to become involved in the process of wine selection first hand.

Blaauwklippen Wines

“Blend and create a playful but chic blend to enjoy any time with friends and family – but with enough backbone to be savoured at a special occasion.”

This was the instruction from Blaauwklippen Vineyards for the 2018 Blending Competition. And Longtom Wine Guild’s blenders happily obliged on Saturday 9 June at Paardeplaats Nature Retreat.

Once the surprise hamper, containing four base wines and a measuring jug arrives, the fun starts.

Dr-Jakkie-Swanepoel-carefully-measuring-the-raw-wines-during-the-blending-process-at-Paardeplaats-nature-Retreat.

Dr Jakkie Swanepoel carefully measuring the raw wines during the blending processAs always, dr Jakkie Swanepoel championed this annual educational challenge, ably assisted by Koos Prince, Michelle and Dawie Ras and Brian and Gerda Whitehorn.

Blaauwklippen 2017 Shiraz, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec had to be blended into a wine that meets the criteria.

The group soon discovered that 45% Shiraz and 35% Merlot resulted in a sound base blend, with a satisfying nose and body. Experiments with varying percentages of Malbec and Petit Verdot added a happy aftertaste, more tannins and structure.

Jakkie carefully measuring the wine

Jakkie carefully measuring the wine

Rounds number five, six and seven resulted in comments varying from ‘getting there’ to ‘lekker!’ At round number eleven, it was unanimous that nothing could beat round number seven – with 45% Shiraz, 35% Merlot and 10% each of the Malbec and Petit Verdot.

ScientificMyBra-Dr Jakkie Swanepoel shaking up a Lydenburg/Blaauwklippen blend

Scientific My Bra-Dr Jakkie Swanepoel shaking up a Lydenburg/Blaauwklippen blend.

So chuffed were the happy blenders with their discovery, that Jakkie blended the remainder of the raw wines to accompany Brian’s hearty winter soup. This is certainly the most entertaining wine lesson of the year, with a long lingering aftertaste…

Orange River Cellars Full Cream Sherry

Orange River Cellars Full Cream Sherry

Dr Jakkie Swanepoel (left) took members on a tour of fortified wines, ranging from Monis Pale Cream to ultra sweet Du Toitskloof Hanepoot Jerepigo.

Jan Neethling assisted with the pouring of the sherries. Oranjerivier Medium Cream was voted Wine of the Evening and Value for Money choice.

For the second time in their 31 years’ existence, Lydenburg’s Wine Guild has made it to the finals of the annual Blaauwklippen Blending competition.

Lydenburg is one of only four clubs countrywide, and the only Mpumalanga contestant, who made it to the prestigious finals.

The winner will be announced at Blaauwklippen Vineyards on Friday 5 October 2018 at a prize-giving ceremony for media and invited guests.

Participants received four “raw wines” – a Malbec, Merlot, Shiraz and Petit Verdot. The challenge was to blend and produce a playful but chic blend to enjoy any time with friends and family, but with enough backbone to be savoured at a special occasion.

Jakkie & Jan choosing the sherries

It took the handful of Lydenburg Wine Guild members no less than 11 rounds of careful measuring, mixing, swirling and tasting at Paardeplaats Nature Retreat to arrive at a pleasing result early in June this year.

The news came as a welcome surprise for the Lydenburg Guild, who prefer to be known as wine lovers, eager to learn more at the monthly tastings, every third Thursday of the month. The other finalists include two clubs from the Western Cape and one from Gauteng.

2013 Blending Winner label design

For more info or to join the Lydenburg Wine Guild, contact gerda@whitehorn.co.za.