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More Changes at the Cape Winemakers' Guild

New rules regarding the selection process for the annual Auction.

by: Cathy Marston | 20 Apr 2011

The Cape Winemakers Guild has announced changes to the way wines get selected for their annual auction in Spring. Normally, each member submits a wine or wines which are then tasted by a tasting panel of other members to determine if it is good enough to make the auction. If your wine is rejected three years in a row, then your membership of the Guild can be revoked because you don’t make the standard – three strikes and you’re out!

This criteria has long been criticized by many both within and outside the Guild, primarily because it encourages mediocrity, with a number of members making ‘safe’ but unexciting wines in order to ensure they make the cut. With significant amounts of income at stake for many smaller wineries, NOT having a wine on the auction can be a serious business in terms of lost revenue. But the ‘averaging effect’ is proving impossible to reconcile with the Guild’s aim of raising the bar for South African wine.

This year, for the first time, selecting the auction line-up will no longer be made by tasting panels alone. All 43 members will be able to have up to two wines on auction, provided they are free of technical defects and meet the highest standards of wine health measurement. All wines will still be subjected to tastings by Guild members and chemical and microbiological analysis to ensure they meet the Guild’s high standards; but contrary to previous years, the final decision now lies with each individual member submitting the wine as to whether he or she wants to put it on the auction if such a move is contrary to the advice of the other members.

“We look forward to creating the most exciting and varied selection of fine wines available on auction by harnessing the exceptional talent of every one of our members to raise the quality and international ranking of South African wines,” says Guild Chairman Louis Strydom, who believes the new selection criteria will encourage members to be bold and to experiment in terms of terroir, cultivar and wine styles.

Because each member can submit two wines, Bernhard Veller from Nitida says that members from smaller wineries can continue to make a more traditional ‘crowd-pleasing’ wine which will further their commercial interests, and use their other ‘slot’ to make something more exciting and unusual. This will encourage members to seek the best expression of their diverse terroirs and to engage in creative experimentation that will ultimately improve the standards and distinctiveness of South African wines.

The 27th Nedbank CWG Auction will be held at the Spier Conference Centre in the Stellenbosch Winelands on Saturday, 1 October 2011.

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