Consistency reigns at Kleine Zalze as more gold is added to Mantelpiece
ACCLAIMED Stellenbosch wine estate Kleine Zalze has added to its fast-growing collection of global awards by bringing home a clutch of medals from prestigious European competitions.
The family-owned Stellenbosch producer may be most famous for its world-class Cabernet Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc, but the past few months have seen the estate’s Chardonnay grabbing its fair share of the limelight.
At the 23rd annual Chardonnay du Monde competition, held at Château des Ravatys in the heart of Burgundy, more than 780 wines from 30 countries were evaluated by a prestigious panel of international judges. Along with receiving a coveted Gold medal, Kleine Zalze’s Vineyard Selection Chardonnay 2015 was the only South African entry to make it onto the celebrated Top 10 list of world-beating Chardonnays.
Meanwhile, at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, the Kleine Zalze Cellar Selection Unwooded Chardonnay 2015 – available from the cellar-door for just R52 – was one of only three South African wines to walk away with a Grand Gold medal. The 2016 event was this year held in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and saw 8750 wines from more than 50 countries tasted ‘blind’ by a panel of 320 international judges.
“I believe winemakers are custodians of what is produced in the vineyard,” explains Alastair Rimmer, cellar master of Kleine Zalze. “Our wines offer the richness of barrel-fermented Chardonnays, but we also preserve freshness and vibrance in the wine, maintaining that natural acidity to let the terroir shine through.”
These latest medals come hot on the heels of what proved to be a remarkably successful 2015 for Kleine Zalze on the international awards circuit.
At the 2015 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles Kleine Zalze wowed the judges with both red and white wines: Kleine Zalze’s Family Reserve Chenin Blanc 2013 was awarded a Grand Gold Medal, and walked away with the prestigious title of ‘Best White Wine’ of the show. The estate’s Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 also earned a Grand Gold Medal, a coveted award bestowed on only the top one percent of the 8000 entries, while the Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 went on to win Gold.
Kleine Zalze’s exceptional Chenin Blanc was also the star of the show at last year’s Mundus Vini International Wine Awards Summer Tasting, where the 2015 Cellar Selection Chenin Blanc Bush Vines claimed a Gold medal and the title of ‘Best of Show – South Africa White’. The estate followed that up at this year’s Mundus Vini International Wine Awards Spring Tasting, winning another Gold medal and the title of ‘Best of Show – South Africa Red’, this time with the Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Shiraz 2013.
After such a triumphant year in European competitions, it’s perhaps little surprise that Kleine Zalze was named New World Producer of the Year at the 2015 UK Sommelier Wine Awards.
While international judges have recognised the world-class quality of Kleine Zalze’s wines, there’s been no shortage of plaudits from local tasters either.
At this week’s release of the Prescient Cabernet Sauvignon Report, a panel of judges awarded the Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection 2013 an impressive 90 points, one of only a dozen entries to score 90 points and above.
It’s a perfect illustration of the quality and consistency that has become a hallmark of Kleine Zalze: last year the 2012 vintage of the Vineyard Selection Cabernet Sauvignon was one of just three Cabernet Sauvignons awarded a Five Star rating by the respected Platter’s guide, while the Vineyard Selection Chenin Blanc 2014 won the Harold Eedes Trophy for Best Chenin Blanc at the 2015 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show.
It’s not only Chenin Blanc grabbing the limelight either: at the 2015 Veritas Awards both the Kleine Zalze Vintage Brut Chardonnay/Pinot Noir MCC 2009 and the Family Reserve Sur Lie Sauvignon Blanc 2015 won sought-after Double Gold awards. The Sauvignon Blanc also claimed a place on the podium in last year’s FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 competition.
While wine judges appear smitten by Kleine Zalze’s terroir-driven wines, global airlines are lining up to list the estate on wine lists in both premium and economy cabins.
Passengers on Air Canada, American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines have all enjoyed a taste of Kleine Zalze at 35 000 feet, while in 2016 the acclaimed Family Reserve Chenin Blanc 2015 will be enjoyed by the lucky few seated in Lufthansa’s First Class cabin. Closer to home, this proudly South African estate will offer five wines on board South African Airways flights over the course of 2016.
The string of recent awards and successes is made all the more memorable by the fact that the estate marks its 20th anniversary this year. Yet while the awards continue to roll in, Owner and Managing Director of Kleine Zalze, Kobus Basson and cellar master Alastair Rimmer are certainly not resting on their laurels.
While reflecting back on the past two successful decades, the team is also looking ahead to the next 20 years of world-class winemaking. After extensive soil and terroir analysis, this spring will see the estate’s viticultural team replanting 20 hectares of prime vineyard blocks with carefully selected clones of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Petit Verdot, with further vineyard development still to come.
Concludes Basson, “It’s about putting capital back into the soil, reinvesting is the future, and now we’re laying the groundwork for the next 20 years.”
Kleine Zalze is situated in Strand Road (R44), Stellenbosch, South Africa. For more information contact Anthony van Schalkwyk, Marketing Manager at Kleine Zalze via e-mail AvanSchalkwyk@kleinezalze.co.za or visit www.kleinezalze.co.za
For press assistance contact Lise Manley of Manley Communications on 0861 MANLEY (626 539) or email to email@example.com or Kobus Basson at Kleine Zalze on 021 880 0717 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org
ADDITIONAL 2016 ACCOLADES
- Concours Mondial du Bruxelles 2016
- Family Reserve Chenin Blanc 2014 – Gold
- Vineyard Selection Chenin Blanc 2015 – Gold
- Family Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2015 – Gold
- Decanter World Wine Awards 2016
- Vineyard Selection Chenin Blanc 2015 – Gold