Possibly the most eagerly-awaited set of results in the SA wine world were launched this evening at a reception at Rodwell House in St James, Cape Town. The Top 100 SA Wines has generated masses of column inches both in print and online, with discussions surrounding the name, the judges, the proposed industry executive, the aims of the competition and a myriad other discussion points. Confusion, negativity, outrage, lawsuits – this competition has had them all.
Well, the wait is over and the results are out. Here are a few facts which may be of interest:
• 411 wines were entered, 15 were declined (reasons unspecified), 6 were withdrawn, mainly for operational reasons (again unspecified) – total number judged was 390.
• 222 of the wines submitted were red, 143 were white, 25 were of other styles (port, MCC, dessert.
• Of the 25 ‘other styles’ entered, 11 ended up in the Top 100, making this a 44% success rate (hot tip for producers thinking of entering next year perhaps!)
• 24 of the Top 100 retail for less than R100.
• 14 of the Top 100 (the biggest category) are Chenin Blanc – a shot in the arm for those who believe it is our best vinous asset.
• There are no Pinot Noirs in the Top 100.
• Top performers with five entries each are Cederberg and Saronsberg followed by Simonsig with four entries.
• Particularly interesting entrants (ie newer wineries, wineries not often featured in competitions etc) into the fine wine arena include Oldenburg (3 entries), Bosman Family Vineyards (2 entries), MAN Vintners Tormentoso (2 entries), Zorgvliet (2 entries), Aaldering, Allee Bleue, Hawksmoor at Matjieskuil, Sumaridge, Vondeling, Vuurberg (1 entry apiece).
• All the winemakers who took part as judges or who are part of the industry executive have got wines listed in the Top 100. The introductory section assures us that ‘commercial interests are distinct and separate from the judging process and from the judges themselves’ and I spoke to Tim Atkin and several other judges, all of whom were adamant that they have no idea what wines they tasted, and that no winemaker judged their own wine.
• 23 bottles rejected because of cork taint, 7 were oxidised and a further 10 others suffered from other faults.
• 3,600 water biscuits were consumed over the four days of judging!
Each wine is listed with a short comment from the judges which is nice, but nicer still would have been to know which judge made that comment. There is a lot of information given on each wine including details of vinification etc which are often omitted from other guides due to lack of space. The rest of the book is devoted to industry information, maps, a winetasting glossary and tips on buying and storing wine.
So there you go – a few thoughts to chew on. I suppose you could say there are notable omissions from what perhaps would generally be termed ‘South Africa’s best’ - whether because they didn’t enter or because they didn’t get through, we shall never know. Equally so, there are wines included which will cause surprise/curiosity and frankly, some disbelief.
But isn’t this what happens with all competition results – when the people we expect to win, do win - we say ‘same-old, same-old, yawn’ and when newcomers triumph and usual suspects are ignored, we react with outrage and cast aspersions on the knowledge and capabilities of the judges involved. You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t, and I don’t see why this competition will be any different from any others.
So back to the name – is this a list that we can feel proud of, one which truly represents the very best of South African wine? I would say yes, that these are all excellent examples of their particular style and I am sure that anyone drinking any of them would agree. Are there others as good or better? For sure – but they’re not on this list, these ones are.
Well done to the people who’ve paid their money, chosen to enter this competition and won – I hope you feel the returns are worth it. For those who didn’t (and the book acknowledges that the most popular reason given for not entering was ‘wanting to see how the first year goes before committing’ – now you know), I daresay that if you feel you fit in that list, you’ll be filling in your forms for next year. And at the end of the day, that’s the only measure of success anyone is going to pay attention to at all.
The Top 100 SA Wines - the full list
Red wine cultivars:
Edgebaston Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Klein Constantia Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Le Riche Wines Cabernet Reserve 2007
Oldenburg Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Rickety Bridge Winery The Bridge 2008
Rustenberg Peter Barlow 2007
Stark-Condè Wines Three Pines Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Webersburg Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Creation Wines Merlot 2009
Slaley Cellars Merlot 2006
Bosman Family Vineyards Pinotage 2009
Neethlingshof Estate The Owl Post 2009
Rijk’s Private Cellar Pinotage Reserve 2007
Simonsig Estate Pinotage Redhill 2007
Boschendal Cecil John Reserve Shiraz 2008
Cederberg Shiraz 2008
Flagstone Dark Horse 2007
Graham Beck Wines The Ridge Syrah 2006
Groot Constantia Shiraz 2008
Oldenburg Vineyards Syrah 2008
Raka Biography Shiraz 2008
Saronsberg Cellar Nick & Forti’s Shiraz 2006
Saronsberg Cellar Shiraz 2008
Saxenburg Private Collection Shiraz 2006
Other red cultivars
Oldenburg Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2008
Red wine blends
Bordeaux red blend
Aaldering Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot 2007
De Grendel Wines Rubaiyat 2007
Dornier Wines Donatus Red 2007
Glenelly Cellars Lady May 2008
Mvemve Raats de Compostella 2007
Rustenberg John X Merriman 2008
Saronsberg Cellar Provenance Rooi 2009
Tokara Director’s Reserve Red 2007
Uva Mira Red Blend 2006
Simonsig Estate Frans Malan 2005
Rhone style blend
Badenhorst Family Red 2007
Creation Wines Syrah Grenache 2009
Hawksmoor at Matjieskuil Saint Alfege’s 2008
Saronsberg Cellar Full Circle 2008
Tormentoso Syrah & Mourvedre 2009 (MAN Vintners)
Shiraz-Viognier blend (not sure why this isn’t included above!)
La Motte Pierneef Shiraz Viognier 2008
Other red blend
Glenelly Cellars Grand Vin de Glenelly 2007
White wine cultivars
Boschendal Reserve Collection Chardonnay 2009
Bouchard Finlayson Kaaimansgat Limited Chardonnay 2009
Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2010
Jordan Wine Estate Chardonnay 2009
Longridge Wines Chardonnay 2008
Mulderbosch Chardonnay Barrel Fermented 2007
Paul Cluver Wines Chardonnay 2009
Bosman Family Vineyards Optenhorst Chen Blanc 2009
De Morgenzon Chen Blanc 2007
Graham Beck Wines Bowed Head Chenin Blanc 2009
Jordan Wine Estate Chenin Blanc 2009
Ken Forrester Wines Reserve Chenin Blanc 2010
L’Avenir Grand Vin Chenin Blanc 2008
Rijk’s Private Cellar Chenin Blanc Reserve 2007
Rijk’s Private Cellar Touch of Oak Chenin Blanc 2009
Simonsig Estate Chenin Avec Chêne 2009
Spier Private Collection Chenin Blanc 2009
Stellenrust 46 Chenin Blanc 2010
Teddy Hall Wines Chenin Blanc Reserve 2009
The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2009 (DGB)
Tormentoso Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2010 (MAN Vintners)
Cederberg Ghost Corner Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Cederberg Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Diemersdal Eight Rows Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Diemersdal Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Graham Beck Pheasants’ Run Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Hermanuspietersfontein Nr. 5 Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Paul Cluver Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Quoin Rock Winery Nicobar 2009
Steenberg HMS Rattlesnake Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Zorgvliet Wines Five-Thirty-Five 2010
Zorgvliet Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Other white cultivars
Cederberg Ghost Corner Semillon 2009
Saronsberg Cellar Nick & Forti’s Viognier 2008
Steenberg Vineyards Semillon 2010
White wine blends
White Bordeaux blend
Cape Point Vineyards Isliedh 2009
Cape Point Vineyards Isliedh 2010
Flagstone Treaty Tree Reserve 2010
Tokara Director’s Reserve White 2009
Other white blends
Allèe Bleue Isabeau 2010
Miles Mossop Wines Saskia 2009
Quoin Rock Winery Oculus 2007
Sumaridge Wines Maritimus 2009
The Bernard Series Whole Bunch Grenache/Viognier 2010 (DGB)
Vondeling Babiana 2008
Vuurberg Wines White 2010
Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2006
Paul Cluver Wines Noble Late Harvest Riesling 2010
Méthode Cap Classique
Bon Courage Jacques Bruére C.C. BdB 2007 Brut
Cederberg Blanc de Blancs Brut 2006
Constantia Uitsig MCC 2007 Brut
Simonsig Estate Cuvée Royale 2005 Brut
Teddy Hall Wines Blanc de Blancs 2005 Brut
Bergsig Estate Cape LBV 2000
De Krans Cape Tawny Port NV
De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve Port 2008
Overgaauw Cape Vintage Port 1998
For more info on the book and the public tastings, go to www.top100sawines.co.za
What do you think? Tell us your opinion and join the discussion below!