A South African chardonnay – made by leading businesswoman Wendy Appelbaum – has been voted the world’s best at a global competition held in the UK.
The DeMorgenzon Chardonnay Reserve 2015 was named best in the world this week by the 2016 Decanter World Wine Awards as Stellenbosch’sDeMorgenzon Estate trounced all comers by winning Platinum: Best in Show Chardonnay over £15.
The same wine has showed remarkable consistency by winning a regional trophy for best Stellenbosch Chardonnay at the prestigious International Wine Challenge (IWC), also judged in London by a worldwide team of wine experts in April.
DeMorgenzon owner Wendy Appelbaum is delighted at the international recognition for this wine:
You have no idea how exciting it is … no idea! Everyone likes to know they’re doing well but this is something quite exceptional.
Wendy Appelbaum | DeMorgenzon Owner
Both competitions, regarded as the best in the world, are judged blind by some of the top global wine tasters. Between them they receive more than 30 000 entries from around the world.
To place the Decanter win in context: the DeMorgenzon Reserve Chardonnay 2015 was rated the best South African Chardonnay versus its local competitors but was then assessed versus the best of Australia, New Zealand, France, America, Argentina, Chile and all other wine producing nations – and beat them too. This round was judged by DWWA co-chairs Steven Spurrier and Gerard Basset MW MS as well as Peter Richards MW, Anthony Rose and Andrew Jefford.
Along with its International Wine Challenge regional trophy for best Stellenbosch Chardonnay, DeMorgenzon’s achievement was rounded out by two further regional trophies as the DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc 2015 won the Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc Trophy and the DeMorgenzonMaestro Red 2014 the Stellenbosch Red Blend Trophy. As Chris Ashton, International Wine Challenge: event director stated: “To win three trophies with three different wine styles is pretty good stuff!”
Appelbaum praised DeMorgenzon winemaker and general manager Carl van der Merwe: “Carl is a wonderfully talented winemaker. We’re proud of our wine and even more proud of Carl. We work really well together and share a common vision of excellence.”
Van der Merwe was also delighted with DeMorgenzon’s accolades: “It’s remarkable because this is only the third commercial release of theChardonnay Reserve from DeMorgenzon,” he said.
Not that this recognition should have come as a surprise since DeMorgenzon’s Chardonnay Reserve impressed straight out of the starting blocks – having been judged the South African White Wine of the Year in the Platter South African Wine Guide 2015 with its maiden release from the 2013 vintage.
DeMorgenzon Estate was purchased by Wendy and Hylton Appelbaum in 2003 and immediately made an impact when its maiden release Chenin Blanc 2005 was recognised with a 5 Star rating by the 2007 Platter South African Wine Guide.
“This is a farm which is so suited to both Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc,” said Van der Merwe. “I believe it’s a magical combination of the weathered granite soils and the influence of the morning sun.”
Owner of the estate, Wendy has served as a director of Liberty Investors Limited and Deputy Chairman of both Wiphold (the first women’s controlled JSE listed company) and the Connection Group Ltd. Currently she is a trustee of The Tribune Trust and director of black empowerment company Sphere Holdings Ltd. Philanthropy is an important part of her life and not only is she a director of the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre, the Donald Gordon Foundation, CHOC (Children’s Haemophilia & Oncology Clinic) and the Helen Suzman Foundation, she also serves on Harvard University’s Women’s Leadership Board and of the International Women’s Forum (IWF)
Blind tasting – wines are judged without sight of any identifying labels, i.e. the tasters are simply presented with a glass of wine in order to assess its merits.
The Decanter World Wine Awards is widely regarded as the most prestigious and authoritative wine selection of its kind globally, attracting an overall entry field of more than 16 000 wines this year, all of which are judged blind.
International Wine Challenge – a competition held in London annually, judged by more than 230 wine professionals (Masters of Wine, wine writers, wine retailers and buyers) which attracts in excess of 15 000 entries from producers all over the world. Also judged blind but without being differentiated by price categories as DWWA does.