STELLENBOSCH wine estate Kleine Zalze achieved new heights after being named Top Performing Winery of the Year by Platter’s South African wine guide, arguably the most comprehensive guide to South African wine and one of the most highly regarded in the world.
The guide, sponsored by Diner’s Club, bestowed the title on the winery, which saw no less than seven of its wines achieve the five-star apex rating while a further six wines received a four and a half star rating.
“Well done Kleine Zalze! In a year where we tasted fantastic wines from the 2017 and 2019 vintages, your stellar achievement of seven five star wines is remarkable. It is amazing to think that, only 25 years ago, Kleine Zalze was a neglected cellar and vineyard – and now you are on the forefront of brand South Africa! To the entire team, our congratulations on the well-deserved fruits of sustained, dedicated and creative work,” said Platter’s publisher JP Rossouw.
“To be named best producer in consecutive premium competitions by two of South Africa’s most influential and experienced wine-tasting panels is a wonderful acknowledgement for the team,” says Kleine Zalze owner and managing director Kobus Basson. “It may seem like our stars have finally aligned this year, but a lot of thought, investment and work brought us to this point in the Kleine Zalze journey. Next year will be 25 years since we acquired Kleine Zalze and embarked on this journey. Our aim was to build a sustainable wine business and to keep the focus on improving our wines across price points, styles and cultivars whilst ensuring that we stay relevant to the market.”
Three of the seven wines selected for five star-glory are from the Family Reserve Range, namely the Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Chenin Blanc 2019 and Sauvignon Blanc 2019. They were joined by one wine from the Vineyard Selection Range, the Vineyard Selection Chenin Blanc 2019.
Then, there is a trio of Kleine Zalze “Project Z” wines that received the five-star accolade. Project Z is an eclectic collection of exceptional and individual wines from Kleine Zalze. With Project Z, the team of winemakers at Kleine Zalze had free reign to interact with nature, to search for the ultimate expression from a vineyard and to push the boundaries of creativity and innovation in order to keep growing and evolving.
The project originated in 2014 from discussion between Basson and the winemaking team at the time. From their discussions, the it grew and today the cornerstones of the Project Z wines are a selection of vineyards on extraordinary sites and an impressive collection of Italian amphorae that were steadily acquired since 2015. And of course, a dedicated, committed, and skilful team.
The development of the wines has been part of ongoing experimentation in the winery, initially to create blend components to evolve the style and to enhance the top wines from the estate. Their stand-alone excellence however, led to the decision to bottle small lots of the most exceptional wines. The wines offer a different perspective on what Kleine Zalze is capable of. The first wine was bottled in 2017 and this year sees the unveiling of the first of these small-volume and limited-edition wines.
Six Project Z wines have been released, all of which achieved four and a half stars and more at Platter’s this year. The five-star winners in this range are the Project Z Chenin Blanc 2018, Grenache 2017 and Syrah 2017.
“Platter’s is significant to us because it is certainly one of the most important tasting panels in the country, and one of the most comprehensive,” says Kleine Zalze cellar master Alastair Rimmer. “We are also excited that through consistent recognition locally and from the best international competitions, we help showcase, not only on our own terroir, but of what South African wine is truly capable of producing.”
Kleine Zalze’s head of winemaking RJ Botha adds: “It has been a wonderful year with the efforts of the entire team culminating in a series of top awards. We worked really hard to improve and refine our efforts from the farming and viticultural side where Henning Retief and Anel Botha work tirelessly to the cellar where the winemakers keep pushing the boundaries to deliver even better quality than what our consumers and supporters expect.” The significant number of accolades amassed in 2020 in the most recent months certainly is testament of the efforts of the entire team at Kleine Zalze.
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