Iconic South African wine brand Bellingham, situated in Franschhoek, has yet again shown its world-class pedigree and the universal appeal of its wines with plaudits from the newly released 2016 International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) results and Tim Atkin's South Africa Special Report.
The London-based IWSC is highly regarded around the world for its rigorous judging process and leading technical standards. The much-anticipated 2016 results revealed an impressive showing for the Bellingham range. The Bernard Series Basket Press Syrah 2014 received a coveted gold award, reserved for wines scoring a superlative 90-92 points out of 100. Bellingham winemaker Niël Groenewald describes the wine as powerful and aromatic yet refined with ample black and white pepper spice flavours on the nose and hints of rich dark chocolate. The palate is generous and structured, featuring a substantial blackberry and mulberry fruit foundation intertwined with delicate violets and fynbos.
According to Groenewald, a cellar-within-a-cellar approach is followed for The Bernard Series' range of premium wines. The wines are made in small batches from carefully selected grapes and hand-crafted to perfection, respecting the fruit. Other wines in this range were also recognised by the IWSC, including the Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Bush Vine Pinotage 2014, Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2015 and the Whole Bunch Grenache Blanc Viognier 2015 which all received Silver Outstanding awards. The Bernard Series Whole Bunch Roussanne 2015, Hand-picked Viognier 2015, and Small Barrel S.M.V. were awarded Silver, while Bellingham's mid-tier Homestead range also excelled with Silver Outstanding for the Shiraz 2014 and Silver for the Pinotage 2014, Chardonnay 2015 and The Old Orchards Chenin Blanc 2015.
Echoing the results of this year's IWSC, British Master of Wine Tim Atkin commented in his annual SA Special Report that the 2015 vintage was a truly exceptional one for South African wines. After tasting more than 1 400 wines for his 2016 publication, Atkin awarded Medals of Excellence to an astounding 10 Bellingham wines, with the Quintessential White 2015 and The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2015 top scoring with 94 points each. This follows the excellent achievements of the latter wine at this year's Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge and National Wine Challenge.
These achievements are a notable feather in the cap for Groenewald and his dedicated winemaking team as they continue to build on a long-standing tradition of innovation and excellence at Bellingham. Founded in 1943, Bellingham blazed the trail for many industry firsts, in the process becoming a landmark of modern South African wine culture and one of the country's most loved brands. Judging by the consistently stellar performances of Bellingham wines both locally and abroad, this legacy looks set to soar to new heights in the current era.