In one of its finest showings in the Veritas Wine Awards to date, pioneering Chardonnay wine estate De Wetshof from Robertson won the only Double Gold medal in the category for Unwooded Chardonnay wines plus four Gold medals. De Wetshof Limestone Hill 2016 took Double Gold while the Bon Vallon Chardonnay 2016 and the Limestone Hill Chardonnay Woolworths 2016 won Golds in the same Unwooded category

In the category for Wooded Chardonnays, the Danie de Wet Chardonnay Reserve Collection Woolworths 2015 also won a Gold. And just to show that this estate is no one-trick pony, De Wetshof Louis Michel Thibault Merlot 2012 took Gold in the very competitive Merlot section.

This year’s Veritas Wine Awards attracted 1 670 entries. South Africa’s most important wine show, Veritas was held for the 26th time in 2016. Of the 1 670 entries, only 38 managed Double Gold and 167 wines collected Gold, making De Wetshof one of the show’s top producers.

According to De Wetshof proprietor Johann de Wet, Veritas is the stand-out South African wine competition with which De Wetshof has been associated since its inception in 1991.

“A Double Gold and Gold medal at Veritas is not only recognition for our vineyards and cellar-team, but also of great value to the consumer who has to navigate through an ever-growing range of wines,” he says.

“With its stringent judging process by local and international experts, Veritas affords recognition of which any successful producer can feel justifiably proud. For a single producer to win one Double Gold and four Golds is a tremendous achievement for which we at De Wetshof can be nothing else than exceedingly proud.”

Johann says the 2016 vintage was characterised by hot, dry conditions – especially in the growing season – but is proving to be fine year for De Wetshof Chardonnays.

“Like all our Chardonnays, the grapes for the Limestone Hill, Bon Vallon and other wines are sourced from vineyards growing on sites specifically suited to the style of wine that is going to be bottled,” says Johann. “I believe the Double Gold honour bestowed on the Limestone Hill is the result of the uniqueness of the vineyards from which this wine is made. The limestone-rich soils, with a high clay component ensuring coolness and a high water-retention capacity, deliver grapes giving this fresh, yet complex, unwooded wine a real taste of place.”

What is important in making an unwooded Chardonnay, says Johann, is that it is not just a matter of keeping the juice and the wine away from oak. “The chemistry of the grapes and the vineyard conditions have to be conducive to producing a Chardonnay that shows its best features in an unwooded environment,” he says.

According to Johann, the entire De Wetshof team are especially pleased with the Gold Medal awarded to the estate’s Louis Michel Thibault Merlot 2012.

“De Wetshof is definitely a house of Chardonnay,” he says. “But when it comes to making red wines we adhere to the same approach of site-specific vineyards and exact cellar practices. The recognition for the Louis Michel Thibault in a very competitive category reaffirms my belief that the Robertson wine region can produce noble red wines of great quality, as long as focus to vineyards and attention in the winery is given.”