THIS year’s Mercury Wine Week brings back to Durban a horde of wineries that have made the prestigious annual show their home for decades – and a number of newcomers either introducing their ranges to KwaZulu-Natal consumers or returning after realising the passion local consumers have for different interpretations of the fermented grape.

Among the long-established wineries honouring the Mercury Wine Week are Groot Constantia, Buitenverwachting, Anura, House of Krone, Simonsig and Paul Cluver – each in their own right legends within the South African wine industry. The House of Krone will release its much-awaited Krone Night Nectar 2011 Demi-sec Cap Classique in early September, so there may be a chance the Tulbagh-based estate known for its blending of classic champagne varieties will have its latest offering for tasting during the show.

Simonsig scooped four gold medals at the recent 20th Concours Mondial de Bruxelles competition for its Simonsig Cape Blend Frans Malan 2010, Simonsig Redhill Pinotage 2011, Simonsig Chenin Avec Chêne 2012 and Simonsig Chardonnay 2013 – and two silver medals for the Simonsig Merindol Syrah 2011 and Simonsig Mr Borio’s Shiraz 2011. That means a visit to their stand will be a given.

Walking past the Groot Constantia table would potentially pass up the opportunity to taste the much-lauded Gouverneurs range Reserve Red and Reserve White, the 2010 and 2011 versions of which both scored four-and-a-half stars in this year’s Platter’s South African Wines guide. Both wines are outstanding examples of Bordeaux blends that would benefit from a few years in the cellar.

Accolades for Longridge Wine Estate in the Helderberg continue pouring in – with the latest acclaim coming from internationally-renowned wine writer Tim Atkin. In his recently released South Africa 2014 Special Report, Atkins awarded the Longridge Pinotage 2012 and Longridge Chardonnay 2012 outstanding scores of 93 and 94 (out of 100) respectively.

Both wines were also included in his Best in the Cape listing, a personal selection from the Master of Wine according to varietal and style. Atkin also upheld Longridge cellarmaster Jasper Raats as “making an impressive array of wines … with chardonnay leading from the front”.

That wine was also included in the Top 100 South African Wines earlier this year, so a stop to this stand is another given.

Earthbound, the pioneering brand in the Cape Legends portfolio, has achieved what few believed possible. At the announcement of this year’s prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards in London, three Earthbound labels were the only organic and Fairtrade-accredited wines among the South African medal winners.

The Darling-based winery won silver for its Earthbound Organic Pinotage 2012 and Earthbound Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2013 and a bronze for the Earthbound Pinot Noir 2012.

“The trademark is relatively new with the first wines produced in July 2013. The results (at this international show) are a good measure of the quality in the bottle and that it satisfies the requirements of a more international palate,” Earthbound winemaker Samuel Viljoen said.

The winery’s grapes are sourced from Fairtrade-accredited Papkuilsfontein Vineyards near Darling, a farm with 375ha under vine of which 173ha is organically grown.

Being held at the Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World from August 27-29, tickets for The Mercury Wine Week 2014 are on sale via Computicket or at the door for R100 per person or R150 for a combination ticket for the Wednesday and Thursday nights.