Friday, 8 November 2013

Platter's 2014

Dove egg blue. Maybe.
Twas the Chenin show again with Chenin and White Blends (many with Chenin) out gunning Chard and Sauvvie. Shiraz also a strong category which chimes with Neal Martin's view of the Cape which is Chenin should be (is?) our signature grape and Cape Shiraz can compete with the best. 

Mullineux Family Wines capped off an incredible week by taking Winery of the Year and 4 x 5 star wines. 

Loved the Newton Johnson Windandsea Pinot 2012, pale colour with great balance, length, intensity and complexity.


Cabernet Franc
• Raats Family 2011
• Warwick 2010
Cabernet Sauvignon
• Boekenhoutskloof 2011
• Cederberg Five Generations 2011
• Ernie Els Proprietor’s 2011
• Neil Ellis Vineyard Selection 2010
• Stark-Condé Three Pines 2011
• Chateau Naudé Le Vin de François 2011
• Rijk’s Reserve 2009
• Spioenkop ‘1900’ 2012
Pinot Noir
• Newton Johnson Windansea 2012 (Red Wine of the Year)
• Newton Johnson Family Vineyards 2012
• Cederberg CWG Auction Reserve Teen die Hoog
• Eagles’ Nest 2010
• Fable Syrah 2011
• Hilton The Dalmatian 2010
• Mont Destin Destiny 2009
• Mullineux Family Schist Syrah 2011
• Mullineux Family Granite Syrah 2011
• Rust en Vrede Single Vineyard Syrah 2011
• Stark-Condé Three Pines Syrah 2011
• Saronsberg 2011
• Sijnn 2011
Red Blends
• Bouchard Finlayson Hannibal 2011
• Chamonix Troika 2011
• Delaire Graff Botmaskop 2011
• Eikendal Classique 2011
• Ken Forrester Three Halves 2009
• Thelema Rabelais 2009
• Windmeul Reserve Cape Blend 2012
• Chamonix Reserve 2012
• Hamilton Russell 2012
• Newton Johnson Family Vineyards 2012
• Richard Kershaw Elgin Clonal Selection 2012
Chenin Blanc
• Alheit Radio Lazarus 2012
• Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2012
• Botanica Old Vine 2012
• DeMorgenzon Reserve 2012
• Jean Daneel Signature 2012
• Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2012
• Mullineux Family Schist 2012
• Opstal Carl Everson 2012
• Reyneke 2012
• Sadie Family Skurfberg 2012
• Stellenrust 48 Barrel Fermented 2012
Grenache Blanc
• The Foundry 2012
• AA Badenhorst Family CWG Auction Reserve White Grenache Vuilgoed 3 2012
• Simonsig CWG Auction Reserve The Russety
One 2012
Sauvignon Blanc
• Cederberg David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner Wild
Ferment 2012
• Klein Constantia Perdeblokke 2012
• Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2012
• Mulderbosch 1000 Miles 2012
• Tokara Walker Bay 2013
• Constantia Uitsig 2012
White Blends
• Cape Point Isliedh 2012
• Cederberg David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner Bowline 2012
• David Aristargos 2012
• DeMorgenzon Maestro White 2012 (White Wine of the Year)
• Fable Jackal Bird 2012
• Fairview Nurok 2012
• Flagstone Treaty Tree Reserve 2011
• Nederburg Ingenuity 2012
• Nitida Coronata Integration 2012
• Rall 2012
• Reyneke Reserve White 2011
• Sadie Family Palladius 2011
• Tokara Director’s Reserve 2012
Méthode Cap Classique
• Klein Constantia Brut 2010
• Silverthorn The Green Man Blanc de Blancs 2010
Dessert Wine, Fortified
• Alvi’s Drift Muscat de Frontignan White 2010
Dessert Wine Unfortified
• Delheim Edelspatz Noble Late Harvest 2012
• Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest 2012
• KWV The Mentors Noble Late Harvest 2012
• Mullineux Family Straw Wine 2012
• Nederburg Eminence 2012
• Nederburg Edelkeur 2012
• Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve Noble Late
Harvest 2012
• Axe Hill Cape Vintage 2011
• De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve 2011
• KWV Cape Tawny NV
• Boplaas Potstill 20 Years Brandy
• KWV 15 Year Old Alambic
• KWV 20 Year Old
• Oude Meester Souverein
• Van Ryn 12 Year Distillers Reserve
• Van Ryn 20 Year Collectors Reserve
• Van Ryn Au.Ra

extract from press release:

Of the five star awarded wines, the red and white which receive the most votes from the judging panel are named Platter’s Wines of the Year. This time the Red Wine Of The Year is Newton Johnson Windansea Pinot Noir 2012 (Wine of Origin Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley), described in the guide as “rich, fragrant, warmly sensuous”, while the White Wine Of The Year is DeMorgenzon Maestro White 2012 (Wine of Origin Stellenbosch), a blend of chenin blanc, roussanne, viognier and chardonnay noted as “perfectly balanced for delicious current drinking or keeping”.

In an ongoing focus on value for money, Platter's identifies a number of entry-level wines which are exceptionally drinkable and well priced. The best of these, like the five star candidates, go into a second round of blind tasting to select the Superquaffer of the Year. For the fourth time since Superquaffer inception in 2006, the ultra-easy sipper of the year is a chenin blanc: Boland Kelder Five Climates Chenin Blanc 2013 (Wine of Origin Paarl), praised in the guide as a “cracking crowd pleaser” and an “over-deliverer of note”.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Diner's Club (sexiest) Winemaker of the Year


Johan Jordaan
The finalists for the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year  are:  Christiaan Groenewald (New Cape Wines), Mary-Louise Nash (Black Pearl), William Wilkinson (Wildekrans Wine Estate), Johan Malan (Simonsig), Johan Jordaan (Spier Wines) and David Finlayson (Edgebaston).

This year’s category for the Winemaker of the Year is non-Bordeaux red blends and the winner will be announced at a black tie gala dinner at the La Residence Hotel in Franschhoek on November 30, 2013.

Christian Eedes Chardonnay Report

Top 10

Crystallum, just how I like my oats, 4 stars
 Good variety of styles, good fruit, viticulture throughout - when will we have a sexy competition for the growers? Not sure that's possible but their efforts need more recognition by the media. 
HRV Top 10 three years running, contender for BLIC award
Whether Elgin or S'bosch, Miles always up there
Rather pricey at R300, 4 stars
Consistently classy, no mean feat, 5 stars for R125
Johan just keeps racking them up 4,5 stars
4,5 star Californication
Balance, length, intensity, complexity, pure BLIC, 5 stars
FDC, best value by far R95
Boschendal not the most complex but great palate weight and intensity 4 star  

Monday, 9 September 2013

2013 FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10

Amazing how this category keeps going from strength to strength. Themes of this year are fantastic palate concentration and richness and yet another leap in quality - it remains an exciting category. Elgin conspicuous by their absence, while Ormande should have made the final cut.

The list of winners in the 2013 FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 Awards 2013 is as follows:
Alexanderfontein Chip Off The Old Block 2013 (Darling) 
Boschendal Reserve Collection 2013 (69% Durbanville, 31% Stellenbosch) 
Cape of Good Hope Altima 2013 (Elandskloof) 
Cape Point Vineyards Reserve 2012 (Cape Point) 
Cape Point Vineyards Woolworths 2012 (70% Dbnvle, 20% Cape Point, 10% Stellenbosch)
Franschoek* Cellar Statue de Femme 2013 (20% Durbanville) 
Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2012 (40% Dbnvle, 30% S'bosch, 20% Darling, 5% Walker Bay, 5% Olifants River)
Nederburg Private Bin D234 2012 (Darling) 
Phizante Kraal 2013 (Dbnvle)
Thelema 2013 (Stellenbosch) 

The Top 20, in alphabetical order
  • Alexanderfontein Chip off The Old Block Sauvignon Blanc 2013
  • Boschendal Reserve Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2013
  • Cape of Good Hope Altima Sauvignon Blanc 2013
  • Cape Point Vineyards Woolworths 2012
  • Cape Point Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2012
  • Cederberg Sauvignon Blanc 2012
  • Durbanville Hills Rhinofields Sauvignon Blanc 2012
  • Franschhoek Cellar Statue de Femme Sauvignon Blanc 2013
  • Graham Beck Pheasants'  Run Sauvignon Blanc 2012
  • Havana Hills Virgin Earth The Pepper Tree Sauvignon Blanc 2013
  • Hillcrest Sauvignon Blanc 2013
  • Jordan Sauvignon Blanc 2013
  • Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2012
  • Nederburg Private Bin D234 Sauvignon Blanc 2012
  • Ormonde Sauvignon Blanc 2012
  • Phizante Kraal Sauvignon Blanc 2013
  • Sumaridge Estate Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2013
  • Thelema Sauvignon Blanc 2013
  • Thelema Sutherland Sauvignon Blanc 2012
  • Vrede en Lust Casey's Ridge Sauvignon Blanc 2012                                                                                
  • Top 10 to be announced on 27 September.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Nederburg Auction Rebounds

An unprecedented 91% increase in price per litre paid at the 2013 Nederburg Auction, held at Nederburg in Paarl at the week-end, is excellent news for South African producers, and an affirmation that the event’s increased focus on quality is paying off. Organisers of South Africa’s premier fine wine auction say the increase comes on top of a further overall income result of R4,38 million – more than double the amount expected due to reduced volumes on auction.
Aus Sommelier David Clarke insisting Quantas had just flown over head

“We are delighted that the lowering of volumes, brought about by a tough selection panel, paid off,” said auction manager Dalene Steyn. “The rand per litre is up and that’s a direct result of our tighter auction offering. This is not isolated, as the increase is consistent from lot to lot, with a 91,8% premium attained on reserve prices.”

“What was clearly apparent from the Nederburg Auction this year is that the buyers were far more informed, knew exactly what they wanted to buy and were prepared to competitively bid on lots. The result was a consistently high top average selling price, with prices for individual cases in lots rarely varying by more than a few hundred rands. This was a clear affirmation of consistent quality across the board.”

Steyn further added that the tighter selection this year resulted in a much stronger line-up. Since this was a completely blind tasting, quality, and only quality, determined inclusion in the auction line-up. “If a wine made it to the auction, it was worthy of the auction seal of approval. However, not all of the smaller producers attained the prices they deserved, that could be attributed to a lack of self-promotion.” Francois Rautenbach, buyer for the Singita Game Reserve, commented that the solution is twofold: “Be visible, and prepare by putting aside something special that offers a genuine sense of exclusivity.” Keynote speaker Joe Roberts reinforced this statement in his keynote address, where he highlighted the fact that producers need to tell and sell a story.
Joe Roberts aka 1winedude

Regarding wine categories, the average price per litre achieved this year was R354.64, compared to R184.78 in 2012. Highlights included the highest price of R22 000, paid by Next International of Nigeria for three 750ml bottles of Zonnebloem Cabernet 1973. Other standout prices achieved included R17 000 paid for a single case of 6 x 750ml bottles of the Monis Collectors Port (Double Stamp Collection) 1948, R8 500 paid for one case (6 x 750ml) of the Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon 1997, and R7 000 paid for one case (6 x 750ml) of the De Krans Vintage Reserve Port 1993.

Distell MD Jan Scannell said that he was very pleased to see a 4.7% increase in wine sales to Africa, accounting for 28.7% (R1 249 200) of the total auction turnover.
In terms of international sales, which contributed 8.3% (R360 600) of total sales, the biggest contribution came from the United Arab Emirates, accounting for R219 150.

A complete price per litre summary, including comparisons by category, will be published on the Nederburg Auction website, shortly.

Chenin King Ken actually had a Roussanne on auction

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Level 4 WSET in SA

The Level 4 Diploma in Wine and Spirits, the flagship qualification of the UK-based Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), is to launch in South Africa in May 2014 as an online distance learning programme.
About WSET

You can now take internationally recognised WSET courses in most of the major centres, see here

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) is the largest global provider of wines & spirits qualifications. Currently available in 60 countries and in 17 languages and had over 43,000 people sit and exam last year alone.

WSET has four levels of wine courses, plus two stand-alone spirits courses, most available either as Distance Learning or as classroom courses. Unlike other educational systems, you do not necessarily need to do all the levels in order.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Chenin in the USA

South African Chenin Blanc impressed at the annual Wine Bloggers Conference 2013, which was held in Penticton, British Columbia and attracted some 300 influencers from across the social media spectrum in the US and Canada.


Wines of South Africa (WOSA) partnered with the Wine Bloggers Conference to build awareness of Chenin Blanc in North America, by hosting “The Secrets of Chenin Blanc”.

The seminar was presented by Courtney Luick, the Communications Manager of Cape Classics – the New York based wine importer founded by South Africa-born Andre Shearer in 1992 and which represents 17 of South Africa's finest estates and labels.

“While Chenin Blanc continues to gain traction in the US, the varietal still remains largely under-the-radar in North America, so the seminar provided a focused opportunity to engage with the wine blogging community, and demonstrate Chenin Blanc’s versatility and South Africa’s stance as a strong wine producing nation,” said Luick.

Friday, 31 May 2013


 CE Cab Report 2013 logo

The second annual Christian Eedes Cabernet Sauvignon Report presented in conjunction with Sanlam Private Investments is now out. This involved putting together a line-up of 60 high-profile wines, either currently available or soon to be released, and then subjecting them to a blind tasting.

Among the best value I have seen in years - 5 stars for La Bri 09 at R95, get it pronto, it will soon be sold out.

The top 10 wines were as follows:

La Bri 2009
Price: R95
Le Riche Reserve 2010
Price: R300

Graham Beck The Coffeestone Cabernet 2011
Price: Not yet released.
Guardian Peak Lapa 2010
Price: R220
Rickety Bridge Paulina’s Reserve 2010
Price: R190
Rudera 2011
Price: R185
Springfield Méthode Ancienne 2006
Price: R230
Thelema 2009
Price: R175
Waterford 2009
Price: R165

Rust en Vrede 2010
Price: R220



Fairbairn Capital Trophy for Most Successful Producer Overall

Harold Eedes Trophy for Best Chenin Blanc, Old Mutual International Judges’ Trophy, Old Mutual Trophy for Best White Wine Overall
Rijk’s Chenin Blanc Reserve 2008

Best Red Blend, Old Mutual Trophy for Best Red Wine Overall
Delaire Graff Botmaskop 2010

Best Shiraz-based Dry Red Blend, Old Mutual Trophy for Discovery of the Show
Eikendal Charisma 2011

Old Mutual Trophy for Best Sparkling Wine
JC Le Roux Scintilla 2003

Nestlé Pure Life Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc (Unwooded)
Cederberg Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Best Sauvignon Blanc Unwooded (Museum Class)
KWV The Mentors Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Best Sauvignon Blanc (Wooded)
Jordan The Outlier Sauvignon Blanc 2012              

Best Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Blend
Delaire Graff Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Reserve 2011

Just Riesling Trophy for Best Riesling (Museum Class), Old Mutual Trophy for Best Museum Class Wine Overall
Jordan Riesling 2009       

Miele Trophy for Best Chardonnay
Rustenberg Five Soldiers 2011   

Best Chardonnay (Museum Class)
Nuy Chardonnay 2009   

Riedel Trophy for the Best Bordeaux-style Red Blend
Diemersdal MM Louw Estate Red 2011 

Best Pinotage
Diemersfontein Carpe Diem Pinotage Reserve 2011       

Best Niche Red Variety
KWV The Mentors Petit Verdot 2011     

American Express Trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon
Stark-Condé Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Best Shiraz
Stark-Condé Three Pines Syrah 2010      

Old Mutual Trophy for the Best Dessert Wine
Delheim Edelspatz Noble Late Harvest 2012

Best White Muscat
Nuy Wit Muskadel 2007               

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Seeking Afro Jazz

I heard these guys busking in Stellenbosch last night and they are fantasties. The Winelands is full of beautiful venues crying to be filled and a community craving for more live entertainement. These guys should get regular gigs and everybody wins. You can reach them at

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Launch of a Cult

Savage Wines, launched to great anticipation last night, did not disappoint and were welcomed for a number of reasons. The red shows the same precise winemaking and sympathetic fruit handling that Duncan has shown in his whites and the big bonus for this writer is the now very rare 12.8% alc. 
Duncan Savage

This is far easier to achieve with whites than reds without losing for example generous mouth feel (too which we have become far too accustomed) and power and elegance - which has always been rare.

If one had to be picky possibly a touch too much whole berry ferment but this will integrate with time which is something these wines have in abundance. However, immaculate fruit is probably the more likely.

These wines will soon have a cult following – find them, buy them, and if you have the discipline, keep them – well some of them anyway.

I believe they are both priced at R180 which - for world class age-worthy wines - is good value and will seem a bargain of a lifetime when you open them in say 5 years time. 

The 2011 red is 72% Syrah, 21% Grenache, 7% Cinsaut, aged in old large format oak while the 2012 white is 70% Sauvignon Blanc 30% Semillon 100% aged in 25% new 500 and 600lt barrels, both wines WO Western Cape.

find out more at and presumably in time at  

Monday, 15 April 2013

Chenin Blanc - our only great white hope

My lighthearted take on Chenin for Playboy March 2013 edition 

Once upon a time Chenin Blanc lived in the beautiful Cape winelands with her step-sisters Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The sisters received lots of attention – parties, trellises, favoured sites - never wanting for anything other than a true Romeo to woo them. But they were spoilt and petulant and failed to find a suitor.  What the sisters didn’t have was Chenin’s beauty and versatility.

Chenin had to work hard all day with little rest or comfort other than to sit near the fire cinders late in the evening, earning the nickname Cinderella.  One day some new oak arrived to take the sisters to the palace ball.

Chenin was left all alone to do the housework. Suddenly – in a burst of light - an old oak by the name of Madiba appeared and offered to take Chenin to the ball. ‘But the wine snobs won’t let me in’ cried Chenin. Not to worry assured Madiba, Michael Fridjhon has been doing your PR for many years and soon you will appear in the finest regalia.  

With a swish of his virge, Madiba turned grapes into a pimpmobile and nine winemakers – Jeff Grier, Teddy Hall, Jean Daneel, Irina von Holt, Mike Dobrovic, Eben Sadie, Bruwer Raats, David Trafford, into eight white steeds and coachman Ken Forrester. 

At the ball, globally renowned critics loved Chenin so much that Madiba decided that if the shoe fits wear it and rescinded the spell to turn the pimpmobile and winemakers into pumpkin and mice at midnight.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

WOSA reports record exports

Following a few very tough years, the South African wine industry is being buoyed by a new sense of optimism on the back of record export levels, the likelihood of one of the best harvests this year, the penetration of new markets and growing praise from some of the wine world's most influential opinion formers.

 Su Birch, CEO of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), confirmed that exports for 2012 had reached 417 million litres, 10 million litres more than the previous record of 407 million litres achieved in 2008 and a 17% increase on volumes in 2011. "The record levels are the result of a more favourable currency, as well as the global shortage of wines, stemming from a significant drop in the recent harvests of competitor wine-producing nations in Europe, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand.

"At this stage, all indications are that this year's local crop could be the third biggest in recorded history.  This is assuming that good weather conditions continue, there is a speedy and peaceful resolution to the farmworker strikes and harvests come in on time. The anticipated crop size is despite a decrease in total plantings, thanks to one of the best winter seasons in the Western Cape for many years."