The fourth Merit Wine and Spirit Challenge took place recently in mid-August 2022, and the judges sat down at the conference centre at Klein Joostenberg in Stellenbosch, looking for both quality and value.
The focus of this event is primarily to give the younger generation of wine and spirits consumers a voice. Often panelists are only of the older generation and not in touch with the preferences of the younger generation.
Millennials (those currently approximately between 26 and 41 years old) and generation Z, do not have the same tastes as their parents, nor did they grow up in an era with limited choices dominated by a few major producers. They are more experimental, not influenced by tradition, and are on their way to becoming influential, high-quality and valued consumers. That is why panelists were selected to fit into this age group. The continued growth of this event is an acknowledgement of its unique features that are filling a need in the industry.
The Event Chairman, Brad Gold said: “I am excited about the Merit and Wine Challenge’s initiative that approaches a younger demographic. As an industry, we all need to be investing in our future consumers, and I hope this will aid that cause.”
Millennials have a lot less disposable income than their parents and more economic realities to face, so they have to be more savvy spenders. Good quality wine is a lot more expensive than it was in the mid 90’s, even if the price is adjusted for inflation.
Role-players in the wine and spirit industry must make difficult decisions in the coming years after the economic challenges created by the pandemic. The youngest consumers have the longest road ahead. They look for value, and their consumption has consequences that will compound as time goes on.
It is well known that younger consumers are more comfortable shopping and interacting online. Making the wine and spirit culture more approachable and shareable will be crucial if the industry wants to see this interest grow.
Brad Gold – Chairperson
The Merit Wine and Spirit Challenge awarded Gold Awards to the outstanding products and Value Awards to wines R190 and below and spirits at R380 or below. Some products achieved both awards and can now proudly display a double award.
The gold award is based solely on the scoring of the panelists, whereas the value award is correlated to the price in order to determine if the products offer real value for money.
This year saw a huge growth in entries, particularly on the spirits side. Some producers seem to do consistently well at the Merit Wine and Spirit Challenge. Now in its fourth year, we saw that the following wineries performed the best:
The distillers that performed the best were:
There seems to be a huge need for the younger consumer’s voice to be heard, away from the dogma of the past.
There is a move by younger consumers towards a preference for Chenin blanc, Rosé, top red wine, gin and rum. This event focuses specifically on these categories to award trophies. Every year, fashion and tastes change, and therefore the Merit Wine and Spirit Challenge will always stay up to date with the latest trends.
This year, the trophy for the best Rosé / Blanc de noir went to Van Loveren Family Vineyards for their 2022 Daydream Chardonnay Pinot Noir.
The trophy for the best Chenin blanc went to Leipzig Winery for their 2020 Chenin blanc.
The trophy for the best red wine went to Groote Post for their 2019 Groote Post Shiraz.
The trophy for the best rum went to Earthbound Distillery for their Earthbound Amber Rum.
The trophy for the best gin went to Select Beverage Company for their African Craft Honeybush Gin.
For the full press release and results please visit themeritchallenge.com/2022-event.