Sharing and enjoying wine with friends often leads to the formation of an informal wine club that meets on a regular basis to try out new wines and perhaps enjoy them with food as well.
Some clubs are perhaps a little more serious with their tastings than others but in the end they all offer a great way of learning more about the wonders of the fermented grape.
Avid discussion over each wine tasted results more in depth understanding as to why the winemaker used the components he or she did to arrive at the final outcome in the bottle. Generally this means that clubs who have been around for sometime should have a reasonable idea of what it would take to make up a blended wine.
Recognising this as an opportunity, Blaauwklippen Wine Estate offers the only wine contest, now in its 29th year, in South Africa where amateur wine clubs are given the chance to submit their own blends for judging by a panel of professional wine experts.
"Blaauwklippen aims to give South African wine enthusiasts a real life taste of the wine industry, as well as a chance to become involved in the process of wine selection first hand," says Rolf Zeitvogel, Blaauwklippen Cellar Master and convenor of the judging panel.
"This competition has become an institution on wine club calendars and definitely give the clubs something to look forward to each year."
Finalist clubs are treated to an informative weekend in the winelands, and treated to a personal visit and exclusive wine tasting by Rolf Zeitvogel, Blaauwklippen’s cellarmaster.
The winning club gets the honour of having their blend bottled under the Blaauwklippen Barouche label and sold commercially. The label for the winning blend is based on a specially designed artwork by well-known Stellenbosch artist Frans Groenewald and for this year's blend the painting is called "The winning formula". The wine is only produced in Magnum bottles.
Entries this year came from 77 clubs and not only from South Africa, but even from as far as Australia, Switzerland and Belgium! Clubs who entered this year were sent a competition pack of four wines from the 2011 vintage (single vineyard Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Zinfandel and a single vineyard Shiraz).
After the clubs had determined the ideal percentage of blending components to create their final wine, the 77 creations were tasted by a panel of expert wine judges to determine the four finalists. The challenge to the clubs was to produce a complex, serious, dry red blend with subtle tannin structure and a good balance – a wine with finesse and freshness which can be enjoyed soon, but also allows potential for cellaring.
The WWIWWEW Wine Club (when will we ever win) from Gauteng were the winners for the 29th annual Blaauwklippen Blending Competition.
Their recipe was a classy blend of 32 percent Shiraz, 30 percent Zinfandel, 20 percent Cabernet Franc and 18 percent Petit Verdot.
They described the blend as "a brimful of dark berry, albany to rum chocolate flavours with a hint of spice. Deep structure with smooth tannins and a playful finish."
In the final round of the battle of the blends the WWIWWEW Wine Club was up against:
The Three Sheets To The Wind Wine Club, a Gauteng based club that was established in 2006, and also the 2011 champions of the Blending Competition. The 10 members meet formally every second month and a lot more regularly socially.
The Babalost Wine Club hailing from George. This is their fourth entry and first time in the final. The club was formed five years ago, and their name is a wordplay on the Afrikaans term "babelas" meaning "hangover". The club meets up formally about three times a year.
The Bacchanalian Society, also from Gauteng, was formed in 1975 at a prawn fondue dinner when a guest raised his glass and toasted, "hail Bacchus, god of wine". The club has 27 members and they meet monthly.
The presentation of the award was held at a lunch at Blaauwklippens Barouche Restaurant last week and the winning formula was perfectly matched with Confit duck leg and seared duck breast.
Expect to pay R155.00 (1.5 lt)
To order, email Wine Concepts