Boplaas takes top-spot in WineMag contest

Apr 9, 2021

Boplaas Family Vineyards emerged as the most successful performer in an annual tasting of selected South African ports with one of its wines also taking the title of best overall. Shining a light on the victorious Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve Port 2009, the Prescient Sweet Wine & Fortified Report 2021 said the wine had been the highest scorer in its assessment of 10-year-old wines in 2019 “and it only seems to be getting better”.

The results from this highly regarded panel at were released just days ago, with the ’09 scoring 96/100. Making this achievement even more significant was the comment by the judges that the general standard of quality among entries was “extremely high indeed”.

“The palate is powerful yet wonderfully harmonious – super-dense and hugely tannic, the finish extremely long and dry,” the panel remarked. The same vintage achieved five stars in Platter’s South African wine guide and Double Gold at Veritas while also being named Best Dessert Wine  at the Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards.

Adding to Boplaas’s achievement in the recent assessment, its Cape Vintage Reserve Port 2015 scored 94/100 thereby sharing second place. The panel described the palate as “intensely flavoured and well balanced…”, adding that the wine “shows remarkable finesse”.

For Boplaas, the competition results are yet another reflection of how well its ports develop with age.

Both the ‘09 and ‘15 were crafted from old Portuguese varieties – Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barocca, Touriga Franca and Souzao.  The fruit was hand-harvested at optimal ripeness.  Fermentation took place in traditional lagars with intense manual pigeage to extract optimal flavour, colour and tannins.  It was the fortified and matured for two years in old, large format French oak barrels before being bottled, un-fined and unfiltered.

Portuguese grape varieties thrive in the Calitzdorp region where Boplaas has its home, because they are hardier and well-adapted to warmer climates. It is anticipated that they will play a bigger role as global warming intensifies.

The suitability of the Calitzdorp region for the varieties wasn’t immediately apparent, however. In fact, it was realised quite by chance.

It was during the 1970s that Boplaas patriarch Oupa Danie Nel returned from a Swartland visit with the usual mementos, which included a few bottles of Shiraz. Friends and neighbours made short work of the wine, so the decision was taken that this was a variety to plant.

Vines were sourced and planted. Only later however was it discovered – in part by Carel, Oupa Danie’s son who is now Boplaas owner and cellar master – that something was amiss. Carel was still studying oenology at the University of Stellenbosch when it was revealed that his father’s vines were Tinta Barocca and not the intended Shiraz. A trip to Portugal followed and soon the Nels had befriended many of the Douro’s top port producers. Over decades they were exposed to fine fortified wines, acquiring the art of crafting them too.

Boplaas’s wines are for sale at leading retailers and restaurants countrywide, as well as its online shop at While the 2015 is sold out, the ’09 is still available at R750/bottle.

For more information, email or call 044 213 3326. Boplaas is also on Facebook (

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