A short history and background
The Michelangelo International Wine and Spirits Awards was established in 1997 as the only international wine competition in South Africa. The competition is unique in South Africa, in that all judges are hand-picked wine experts, representing all seven continents around the globe. Since the start of the Michelangelo, more than 165 different judges from 43 countries have served on the panels.
The Michelangelo International Wine Awards of South Africa is a totally independent competition and is mainly self-funding. Our primary objective remains to support local wine makers who are targeting international markets for exports and, through our international judges, are able to determine whether their wines will be well received both abroad and locally.
The competition annually receives between 1700 and 1800 wine, brandy and liqueur entries from both South Africa and international producers around the globe. These are judged blind by panels of 5 judges, using the 100-point international OIV system.
The Michelangelo International Liqueur Awards
2014 saw the launch of South Africa’s first Michelangelo International Liqueur Awards. As this is the only opportunity for producers of liqueurs and fruit wines in South Africa, the new awards were well received and will continue to allow producers to give their liqueurs some long-overdue recognition.
The competition was held in the Michelangelo Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg for the first six years, with the hotel sponsoring the accommodation for the international judges. This agreement resulted in the hotel becoming the naming sponsor and although the competition has been held in the Western Cape since 2002 and all ties with the hotel broken, the Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards has retained the name.
Today we honour the genius of the medieval Italian sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer of the High Renaissance, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, who famously painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome and sculpted the Pietà and the famous David statue. As Michelangelo Buonarroti strived for perfection in every area, our entrants strive to create the perfect wine, brandy or liqueur and be awarded accordingly with a medal or trophy.
We are confident that a wine which has been awarded a top medal by 20 international wine experts will be well received in international markets, and this remains our strength and our claim to exclusivity and viability.
A bit of history
In October 1997 an international jury arrived in South Africa for the first MIWA, then held in Johannesburg. For this first competition, 146 entries were received!
Although this was a slow start, the organisers were confident that the support reflected the local wine industry’s endorsement of the new competition, what it stood for, and still stands for. Entries have since increased steadily by an average of 30% per year and broke the 1 000-mark in 2003. In 2009 entries surpassed the 1 500 mark.
Meeting new challenges
2003 marked the start of a new era for the competition when the Michelangelo International Wine Awards moved to Stellenbosch, the main wine producing area of South Africa. During that year the organisers introduced the first of a number of trophies, namely the Grand Prix trophy for the best entry, the Pinotage trophy and a trophy for the best Garagiste wine entered into the competition.
Currently a total of sixteen trophies are awarded in a variety of categories, including two new sponsored trophies:
1. Collotype Grand Prix Trophy
2. Toneleria Naçional Coffee Pinotage Trophy
3. Golden Oldie Trophy
4. Brandy Trophy
5. Garagiste Trophy
6. Liqueur Trophy
7. RX Organic Trophy
8. Dessert Wine Trophy
9. International Trophy
10. Fairtrade Best Red Wine Trophy
11. Fairtrade Best White Wine Trophy
12. TM Mercurey French Style Red Blend (Bordeaux-Style) Trophy
13. African Cellar Supplies MCC Trophy
14. IQ Business Most Innovative Wine Trophy
15. TRANE Cape Blend Trophy (new)
16. JF Hillebrand Pinotage Trophy (new)
Opening up to international entries:
In 2003 the organisers were approached by a number of foreign producers who wanted to enter the competition, and as a result the competition was opened to international entries. Sixteen foreign wines were entered in that year, among them the Australian Wilson’s Oak Chardonnay 2001 which was awarded one of only 19 Grand D’Or medals in total in that year. A further three international entries, namely from Italy, France and Australia were awarded silver medals in the same year.
Since then both importers of foreign wine, brandy and liqueurs into South Africa and producers from other countries who are seeking representation in South Africa have entered their products. International entries are judges together with local entries and are all considered for the Michelangelo International Wine Trophy, awarded to the best foreign entry.