Laborie Named Overall Winner of the 2023 Amorim Cap Classique Challenge in a Year of Record Entries

n a year that saw a record number of entries for the Amorim Cap Classique Challenge, KWV Laborie walked away with the top award, winning the trophy for Best Producer Overall with the Laborie Blanc de Blancs 2017. Laborie, which also took the competition trophy for Best Blanc de Blancs, was joined on the winners’ rostrum by trophy winners Domaine des Dieux Claudia 2017 (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).

Sponsored by Amorim Cork, the world’s largest producer of cork wine closures and based in Portugal, the Cap Classique Challenge has been held annually since 2002 and is South Africa’s largest competition awarding and recognising Cap Classique wines. The event is held in co-operation with the Cap Classique Producers Association, the official industry body for this wine style made to the traditional method of secondary bottle-fermentation pioneered in South Africa in 1971 by the late Frans Malan of Simonsig.

Joaquim Sá, MD of Amorim Cork in South Africa, who was also responsible for organising the first Cap Classique Challenge 22 years ago, says that 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.

“True to the very nature of the sparkling wine it represents, the Cap Classique Challenge is a celebration as much as it is a platform to award the country’s top producers making Cap Classique,” he says. “Over the past decade especially, Cap Classique has entrenched itself as one of the Cape’s leading wine offerings, not only in the eyes of critics and judges affirming the quality and diversity in styles, but also among consumers. The very name ‘Cap Classique’ has become a brand in itself, proudly South African and a fashionable representation of the ebullient lifestyle associated with the pop of a cork and the sparkling splash of wine into a glass.

“As the world’s leading supplier of corks for use in the sparkling wine sector world-wide, Amorim’s association with Cap Classique is a long and proud one where we work in tandem with the Cap Classique Association in creating an awareness of the category as well as in improving the overall quality of this sector. In this aspect, I consider the Cap Classique Association as having played a profound role in inspiring producers to make better wines and to elevate the awareness of the ever-increasing number of great Cap Classiques made in South Africa.”

Heidi Duminy, Cape Wine Master who convened the panel of judges, says the overall quality and standard was extremely high his year. “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.”

Besides the five trophies, gold medals for exceptional Cap Classiques were presented to the following producers in the different categories:

Double Gold Blanc de Blancs
Simonsig Cuvée Royale 2018
Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2018
Newstead Blanc de Blancs 2017
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

During this year’s Cap Classique Challenge Michael Fridjhon, South Africa’s leading wine critic and personality, was awarded the Frans Malan Legacy Trophy. Named after the pioneer of Cap Classique, the trophy is presented to South Africans from the wine industry who have made a profound contribution to the category.

Besides the promoting of South African wine – including Cap Classique – in general, Fridjhon was the convener of a group of like-minded Cap Classique producers who in 1992 met in Swaziland to discuss the future or the category, the event culminating in the establishing of the Cap Classique Producers Association.




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