The outcome of
the 2012 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show has wider relevance than at any time in
the history of the competition.
For a start, while it has yielded more medals –
and in particular, more of the valuable gold and silver medals – it has cast in
stark relief the shortcomings of the under-performing producers. Over the ten
years of its existence a high enough percentage of its judgements have been
vindicated by repeat successes or international awards.
failures carry their own message, and it is not one for tough times. So the
polarisation increasingly evident in the wine industry in the commercial sense
has now been reaffirmed qualitatively.
best have become markedly better, and the medal counts make this clear. Instead
of the lone golds in many of the bigger and more high profile classes (from an
international as well as local market perspective) there were two, three and
even, in one case) five vying for the category trophies. More importantly,
directly beneath them lay a bedrock of solid silvers, wines which even three
years ago might have been shoe-ins for the 'best of class' accolade.
consistently one of the best performing white wine categories – this year
stamped its presence over the whole show. Five current release golds, of which
anyone might justly have been on the top step of the podium.
was almost as strong, with unresolved stylistics only just undermining the
coherence of the message, rather than the message itself. Chenin Blanc, not
always as richly represented in the gold medal line-up in past shows, had two
golds as well as luminous museum trophy upon to stake its claim for attention.
blended white wine classes were all equally strong, while Semillon in turn had
become more mainstream. The only absence of note was Riesling, which for the
past two years has affirmed the message of its Cape renaissance with category
and even museum golds.
Among the reds,
despite a less prominent count of top medals, the story is much the same.
Shiraz, Pinotage and Bordeaux blends are the flag-bearers, though Merlot, Pinot
Noir and Cabernet have joined the rest of the red wine classes in showing a
palpable improvement in fruit purity, fruit sweetness and sensitive fruit
Sparkling, fortified and dessert wines were no less impressive:
except for red blends made up of an often confusing (and confused) collection
of varieties, there were no classes the panellists would rather have left to
others to judge.
In short, there
is a justifiable sense of elation at the ground that has been traversed in the
decade since the first Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show. However, there is also a
refreshing lack of complacency: having observed what can be achieved by
listening to the more sophisticated voices in the market, and applying
result-oriented strategies in the vineyard and cellar, producers see the future
as a place of infinite potential. For a community that all too often languishes
in nostalgia, their optimism could prove electrifying.
Win an amazing Miele cooler including six bottles of Old
Mutual Trophy Wine Show medal winning wines, to enter go to www.trophywineshow.co.za, entries
close 2nd July