The Intercontinental Wine Challenge 2023
Southern Hemisphere Tasting Results
Stellenbosch, South Africa, September 20th – The inaugural Southern Hemisphere tasting of the Intercontinental Wine Challenge has taken place with South Africa scooping four double gold awards, Chile two, and Australia one double gold award.
The panel of judges was delighted at the diversity and quality of the wines from the participating countries: Argentina, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. The panellists were UK-born Master of Wine Richard Kershaw, Swedish Master of Wine Madeleine Stenwreth, Master of Wine Cathy van Zyl (Chair of the Institute of Masters of Wine) and Cape Wine Master Jacques Steyn.
Chenin Blanc entries showed a variety of styles ranging from austere to ripe examples with balance, viscosity, and some with oak. This was a strong category, with Alvi’s Drift Albertus Viljoen Chenin Blanc 2022 (South Africa) receiving a Double Gold award and Longaví Cementerio 2021 (Chile) taking home a Trophy award.
The Sauvignon Blanc category varied dramatically, ranging from greener pyrazine, some very minerally, to rich tropical wines, whilst some had oak influence.
The Chardonnay category prompted a discussion on reduction. Panellists debated when reduction is seen as a negative in wine and when it enhances the appeal of the wine. Reduction was not penalised when adding a layer to a complex and complete wine.
The Pinot Noir category was unfortunately hit-and-miss. The fresher wines showed more fruit and subtleness.
With only a few Pinotage entries from South Africa, Alvi’s Drift Verreaux Pinotage 2021 got the nod and was awarded Double Gold.
Cabernet Sauvignon showed good cassis expression across the flight, with varying use of oak. The best example, ‘The Crossing’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (Australia), exuded class, and length.
Merlot was generally well made, but few had enough complexity to score high.
There were a variety of Shiraz styles in this big category. Although some panellists commented about some wines being over-extracted, others had clean fruit, well-handled tannin, and bright acidity. The Tokara Reserve Collection Syrah 2020 (South Africa) was the standout wine and one of two Trophy award winners at the tasting.