There was nothing that could contain the joyful outbursts at the table occupied by KWV’s wine and brandy team in the final moments of the Veritas Awards, held on Saturday. Having been named overall winners last year, the team repeated the rare feat and again collected their haul of medals in front of one of the industry’s biggest gatherings in Cape Town.

Among only 3.3% Double Gold winners in the wine and brandy competition across 1 700 entries, KWV received no less than seven of the prized awards. Another six won Gold. Overall, 44 of its entries were listed among the winners.

“Standards have risen; the bar has been raised,” declared Charles Hopkins, the new chairman of Veritas, in his opening address and in reference to the overall performance of competitors in the event’s 22-year history.

Veritas 2012 signalled a momentous occasion for KWV. The company not only increased its Double Gold award-tally of the previous year, but also collected other significant titles along the way – notably that of Most Successful Producer at the recent Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show.

Furthermore, the spread of achievements within the portfolio is significant, says KWV chief winemaker Richard Rowe. “Here is a demonstration of consistency and strength across our various offerings.

“This is a fantastic result given where we’ve come from and is indicative of KWV delivering the right style of wine. These are wines made with finesse, concentration, and subtle and balanced used of oak. Most importantly – they’re wines that are very drinkable.”

An important part of KWV’s success, he said, has to do with the evolution of its wine styles while remaining respectful of heritage. At the same time, there has been a shift amongst competition judges to reward international styles. “The message for the industry is that the days of big blockbuster wines are over. Consumers have become particular about the wine styles they seek and the judges recognise this,” Rowe said.

He added that victory comes with much hard work and this was certainly true where KWV’s winemaking team was concerned. “We’ve made substantial progress. Of course, there’s more that can be done.”

As for KWV’s brandy makers, the evening ended delightfully for them too. “This year’s Veritas brandy judging panel was one of the industry’s most representative, comprising some of the biggest authorities in South African brandy,” said Pieter de Bod, KWV manager of spirits. “Having our work recognised by them in this way is a great honour.”

“Our goal was to produce friendlier brandies that are gentle, elegant and expressive. Innovation was a key part of achieving this. For example, we sourced fine honey and incorporated it into our distilling.”

Joining a handful of other winners on the Double Gold podium were the KWV 15 and 20 year potstill brandies, followed by Gold winner, the KWV 10 year potstill.

Among the wines, the Double Gold winners were The Mentors Pinotage 2010; the Mentors Shiraz 2010; the KWV Hanepoot Jerepigo 1969; the KWV White Jerepigo 1933; and, the KWV Classic Collection Cape Tawny Port N/V. Gold awards went to the KWV Cathedral Cellar MCC Brut 2010; the KWV Cathedral Cellar Pinotage 2010; the Laborie Jean Taillefert Shiraz 2010; and, KWV Classic Collection Cape Full Cream N/V; KWV Hanepoot Jerepigo 1973.

The Veritas Awards competition is regarded as one of South Africa’s most authoritative events, providing a most highly-esteemed indicator of quality market-ready wines. Of the total of 1 381 medals awarded this year, only 58 were Double Gold and 147 Gold. A panel of over 100 wine specialists, including several international judges, tasted the wines this year.

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