This week Kleine Zalze was named Best New World Producer of the Year in the UK by the Sommelier Wine Awards (SWA) for a second time.
The Kleine Zalze team from South Africa walked away with seven additional medals on top of their big win.
“We’ve invested heavily to achieve the best from our terroir, so it’s very gratifying to be ranked number one,” said Kleine Zalze owner Kobus Basson, who was in the UK for the award. “It’s also very significant for us as a South African company to be among the world’s most recognisable, historic and superb wine brands.”
The SWA is the UK’s only competition aimed solely at on-trade wines. Judged by a panel of top sommeliers and buyers, the competition rewards the best wines available to bars, hotels and restaurants in the UK.
In February, Kleine Zalze had similar success in the UK when it was named a top-listed on-premise wine in the country. The report was compiled by research consultancy Wine Business Solutions that ranked top performers by country, as well as overall.
Basson said: “Consistency is one of the most important aspects of quality winemaking, along with a reliable measure. Both are in evidence with the results of the past few months.”
There has been a spate of awards this year for the wine producer: gold at the International Wine Challenge for their Family Reserve Shiraz 2015 and Vineyard Selection Chenin Blanc 2017; gold at the Councours International Des Cabernets 2018 for their Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2015; as well as gold awards at the Councours Mondial Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay Du Monde 2018, and the Mundus Vini International Wine Awards.
At the Stellenbosch farm, cellar master Alastair Rimmer says while awards are great, the focus remains on producing top wines.
“It’s a great way to measure where you are – relative to the global competition it is not our main focus to win medals. Rather we aim to produce delicious and balanced wines.”
Back at the SWA, Kleine Zalze was lauded for producing high-quality and affordable wines, and it’s something Rimmer and the team are focusing on.
“Our philosophy at Kleine Zalze has always been that wine should be enjoyed with friends and family and that, more often than not, is done over a meal,” he said.
“We always strive to make wines that compliment food and work well in that sense. I think we’re seeing more and more that this is what wine judges are appreciating and they’re no longer just looking for ‘showy’ wines, and that seems to be working out quite well for us.”
To date, Kleine Zalze has a footprint in the UK, Asia and Europe, but this South African wine farm could be set for global domination.
“We are always investigating new markets,” Rimmer said. “The fortunate position we are in [right now] is that we don’t need to expand, so we can really take our time to find the right partners to work with in new markets. The US and the East are markets that we feel that we can grow into. But for now, it’s back to winemaking and adding a few more awards.”