Welcome Event: Michelangelo International Wine + Spirits Competition, South Africa

On Sunday evening, invited international judges attended a “Welcome Party” to kick off the 26th Michelangelo International Wine + Spirits Competition at the beautiful  Lourensford Wine Estate, South Africa.

This year’s Michelangelo judges line-up include: Otto Batzer, Austria; Georgi Mihov, Bulgaria; Liz Palmer, Dame Chevalier de Coteaux de Champagne from Canada; Karel Novotný, Czech Republic; Thomas Rydberg, Denmark; Charlie Arturaola, France; Moshe Cohen, Israel; Michele Shah, Italy; Chris Alblas, importer of organic and biodynamic wines in Europe, from Netherlands; Wojciech Gogolinski, Poland; Achim Dörr, Germany, Nuno Jorge, Portugal; Heidi Duminy, Wilhelm Pienaar, Greg Mutambe and Cape Wine Master Elsie Pells from South Africa; Andrej Ondrejmiska, Slovakia; Dr Marin Berovic (OIV Commissioner and Chairman of European Wine Competitions from Slovenia); Jesús Bernad Dueñas, Spain; Per Karlsson, Sweden; Richard Phister, Switzerland; Serhat Narsap, Laura Clay (IWC Senior judge) and Geoffrey Dean from the UK.

The 2022 Distilled Spirits panel include:

  1. Bernard Schaefer, professional spirits taster and Master of the Quaich from Germany;
  2. René van Hoven, spirits and Rum specialist from the Netherlands;
  3. Johan Venter, former Master distiller and blender, South Africa;
  4. Ivan Dixon, drinks consultant and spirits buyer, United Kingdom
  5. Arthur Nägele, international spirits judge and trainer, Switzerland

“It is such a thrill to have a full team of international drinks experts serving on the judging panels again this year,” says founder and organizer of the competition, Lorraine Immelman. “25 of our judges have been sourced from other international competitions in Europe and the USA, based on their experience and standing in the industry.

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Good News: South Africa wine exports go-ahead during lockdown

The South African wine industry has been given authorization to export wines during the country’s current lockdown.

Following intense lobbying of the South Africa government by an Industry Exporters Task Team, the Minister of Transport stated in a release yesterday, April 7: “During the lockdown period, the transportation of the wines and any other fresh produce products at the seaports and international Airports Designated as Port of Entry for export is allowed.”

“Agricultural Cargo is allowed to be transported to seaports and International Airports Designated as Ports of Entry and exported to the relevant destination.”

The move is important for South Africa’s wine producers and fruit farmers as much of their produce is exported, and 50% of all wine produced is exported.

Rico Basson of Vinpro, which represents 3,500 members of the South African wine industry, tweeted, “We are very grateful for the dispensation to allow the exports of South African Wine”.

A statement from The Exporters Task Team also praised the decision: “Government and all the respective role-players [have shown] an understanding for the industry’s challenges through this concession, as nearly half of South Africa’s wine production is exported and a restriction on exports would have a severe effect on wine-related businesses, but most importantly the livelihood of close to 300,000 people employed by the wine industry value-chain.”

The Task Team emphasized that it recognized “the severity” of the Covid-19 pandemic, asking all businesses and people to “strictly adhere to the regulations” set out by government to ensure the safety of all employees during the lockdown.

Describing the development as “very good news for the industry”, Wines of South Africa‘s (WoSA) UK market manager Jo Wehring clarified that, “this exemption only relates to finished product that is ready for shipping in either bulk or packaged format”, adding it is “a massive step in the right direction and will bring much relief”.

WoSA recently announced that the 2020 vintage would deliver ‘exceptional wines’, after a last minute concession from government allowed harvesting to take place.