Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show

A fantastic show this year.

18 Jun 2012
old mutual trophy wine show

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.

Conversely, continued 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.

Happily, the 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.

Chardonnay – 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.

Sauvignon Blanc 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.

The various 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 handling.

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


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