Award-winning wines that won't break the bank

31 May 2015 - 02:00 By JOANNE GIBSON

The winners of South Africa’s most prestigious wine awards were announced this week and proved that great wine does not always equal giant price Mark Norrish, general manager of Ultra Liquors' wine division, spends most of his time on the road, visiting cellars to find wines for bottling under Ultra's Secret Cellar label. Because he buys in bulk, even top-quality wines from leading estates sell for a fraction of the price they would fetch when sold under their own labels.Take the Secret Cellar Merlot Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon No702 2013 - in fact, rush to Ultra Liquors immediately to buy it by the caseload. Retailing nationally for R29.99 a bottle, it won the trophy for Discovery of the Show at this year's Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show, receiving a 92-point rating from an international panel of wine experts.story_article_left1It's a remarkable achievement at what is arguably South Africa's most rigorous wine competition, which this year saw the number of entries rise slightly to 1 082 wines from 1 040 in 2014, while the total number of medals dropped quite significantly to 545 from 627 in 2014.Most successful producer was Stellenbosch stalwart Rustenberg, which won trophies for its Five Soldiers Chardonnay 2012 and Peter Barlow 2009 red, while Spier was runner-up with trophies for the Windy Peak Sauvignon Blanc 2014 and The Hutton Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, both exclusively available at Woolworths (kudos to wine buyers Allan Mullins and Ivan Oertle).story_article_right2What strikes me is how much value there is to be had this year. Best Shiraz and Best Red Wine Overall, the Fleur du Cap Shiraz 2013, with spicy, coffee-nuanced oak notes to complement plummy fruitcake flavours (94 points) retails nationally for around R80 a bottle.Best Chenin Blanc, the creamy Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection 2014 with its ripe, concentrated peach, melon and lime fruit (94 points) will set you back about R77 a bottle.Equally striking is the number of competition newcomers to have struck gold, including trophy winners Olifantsberg near Worcester and Leeuwenkuil in the Swartland, alongside better-known repeat winners.Did show chairman Michael Fridjhon and his panel of internationally acclaimed judges get it right? Taste for yourself at public tastings being held in Cape Town on June 12 2015 and Sandton, Joburg, on June 18 2015. Visit for further details as well as all the results.

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