Bellingham Wines on podium at Shiraz SA Challenge 2017 for SMV-blend

Bellingham Wines, pioneers of single-varietal Shiraz in South Africa, has been recognised as one of the country’s top three producers of Shiraz-based red blends at the 2017 Shiraz SA Challenge. Bellingham claimed this podium position for its Bellingham The Bernard Series Small Barrel SMV 2014 – a blend of 87% Shiraz, 10% Mourvédre and 3% Viognier that was matured in small French oak casks, for 14 months.

For Bellingham this award further cements its reputation as a wine brand recognised for its pioneering work in Shiraz, and highlights its dedication to continue outstanding work to honour this status. Bellingham was the first South African winery to bottle a local single varietal Shiraz in 1951, and since then Shiraz has remained a focus variety of the estate. It is a variety that finds its most individualistic expression in wines bottled under The Bernard Series label – a flagship label honouring Bernard Podlashuk, the original ‘maverick winemaker’ at Bellingham at the time.  Today, Cellarmaster Niël Groenewald assumes this position at Bellingham, where he continues to make wine that is “distinctive, a little bit irreverent but ultimately fascinating in style”.

This expression of personality ultimately resulted in the judges, reviewing the blend category, at this year’s Shiraz SA Challenge to reward Bellingham’s SMV 2014 blend – with its distinct Southern Rhône character – as one of the country’s best.

Held annually, the Shiraz SA Challenge is the country’s only competition focused purely on reviewing Shiraz, and Shiraz-based blends. It is driven by Shiraz SA, the official association and mouthpiece for producers and aficionados of locally produced Shiraz. This organisation is devoted to recognising and rewarding superior wines made from this noble cultivar.

For this year’s Challenge, judges assessed 220 entries, to identify SA’s Top 20 single-varietal Shirazes and the Top 3 Shiraz-based blends.

In addition to The Bernard Series Small Barrel SMV 2014 claiming top three position, the Bernard Series Basket Press Syrah 2015 was judged as one of the Top 20 single-varietal Shiraz entrants.

Groenewald describes The Bernard Series Small Barrel SMV 2014 as a wine with (a) “mosaic of alluring black and red berry, and cherry aromas layered with dark chocolate, winter spices, rose and violet on the nose carried through to an intricate intensely fruited palate that is both powerful and graceful. A long, smooth, succulent finish of good length and complexity”.

He adds: “My team and I are extremely pleased to have Bellingham’s Syrah, and Shiraz-based blend, recognised as top examples in these categories. Shiraz remains our core variety, which has, since it was pioneered at the farm in the 1950s, been continuously developing further excellence thanks to the many innovative and maverick approaches in the cellar. It is fantastic to see our efforts rewarded!”

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