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Kanonkop and Rijk’s set to make history in 20th anniversary

Absa top 10 Pinotage competition

The two top producers in the history of the Absa Top 10 Pinotage Competition are both vying for a record 11th win in this premier wine competition which has been an integral part of the South African wine industry scene since 1997. Kanonkop Estate from Stellenbosch and Tulbagh’s Rijk’s Private Cellar both saw two of their Pinotage wines making the list of 20 finalist wines from which this year’s Absa Top 10 winners will be chosen for the awards ceremony on August 26.

This year sees the Absa Top 10 Pinotage Competition, South Africa’s leading wine competition recognising one specific grape cultivar, being held for the 20th consecutive year.

With ten Absa Top 10 Pinotage trophies each under their belts – the most any producers have won to date – Kanonkop and Rijk’s have already made their mark in the Pinotage record books. Now the waiting begins to see which will be the first to re-write history and reach 11 victories.

This year’s 20 finalists represent all of South Africa’s leading Pinotage producing regions including Stellenbosch, Durbanville, Paarl, Breedekloof, Walker Bay and Robertson. With nine producers among the finalists, however, Stellenbosch underscores its position as South Africa’s most revered Pinotage region.

Beyers Truter, Chairman of the SA Pinotage Association which organises this annual showcase along with Absa, member of Barclays Africa Group Ltd, says the list of 20 Top 10 candidates shows an exciting blend of regions, with established producers sharing the honours with some relative newcomers.

“Rijk’s and Kanonkop, as other finalists such as Simonsig, Windmeul and Diemersdal are no strangers to the Absa Top 10, while relative newcomer producers of the likes of Rickety Bridge and Frater Family Wines are exciting developments,” says Truter.

“Together with this mix of new and established, it is fantastic to see quality Pinotages originating from nearly all of South Africa’s diverse regions – from Stellenbosch and Paarl, to Walker Bay, Durbanville and Robertson. For quality Pinotage wines to be produced from such a diverse spectrum of terroirs not only underscores the versatility of the grape; it is also testimony of the producers’ love for fine winemaking, their commitment and insight of the region’s climates and terrains.”

Doug Walker, Provincial Managing Executive, Absa Western Cape says the Absa Top 10 Pinotage Competition represents one of the longest-running corporate wine sponsorships in South Africa and Absa.

“From day one, Absa has been extremely proud to be associated with this locally produced wine through its sponsorship of the annual Top 10 Pinotage Competition,” he says.

“This year, the bank recognises 20 years since it first entered into a partnership with the Pinotage Association.  Over the years, the Absa Top 10 Competition has become the benchmark for the best Pinotage wines in South Africa with local sales increasing by 10% annually, and exports more than doubling.”

Walker says the positive effects of the sponsorship have not been limited to increased brand awareness and sales of the Pinotage variety.

“With the increasing popularity that Pinotage has attracted over the years, it has translated into increased activity among industry suppliers and farming communities,” he says.

“We are delighted with the advancements in the sector, but are especially proud of the greater ripple effect that the sponsorship has had on driving development in the sector, allowing the community at large to benefit and prosper. The bank is led by the principle of conducting business in a way that promotes positive outcomes for society.”

Absa recently further affirmed its direct economic and social contribution with a commitment of R1,4bn in skills and education development across the continent.

“Together with the Pinotage Association, Absa wishes to continue to grow awareness and popularity of the Pinotage variety in order to develop local wine industries even further,” adds Walker.

 “We are looking forward to the announcement of the winning wines for 2016, and thank the Pinotage Association, who has worked tirelessly and remained committed to this uniquely South African cultivar.”

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