Last night I attended the launch of the ‘Platter’s by Diners Club International 2019 South African Wine Guide’ at the Table Bay Hotel. It was an evening of some surprises, and new awards presented! But one thing was consistent – the Mullineux duo of Chris and Andrea lead this country in its consistent wine award performance, winning Winery of the Year for the third time in the 39 year history of the Platter’s Guide. 

Publisher JP Rossouw welcomed five-star winemakers, writers, as well as the tasting team which had evaluated 9000 wines, to create a list of 90 five-star wines, a slight decrease from 111 last year. He described the Cape wine scene to be ‘improving all the time’. He thanked the Platter’s tasting and editorial team, under the leadership of editor Philip van Zyl for the last 21 years. He also thanked the typographer Gawie du Toit, who has worked on 19 Platter’s editions. 

Rossouw shared that a number of changes have been made to the Guide this year: 

#.  The heritage of old vines is recognised through an icon, reflecting the good work of the Old Vine Project. 

#.  A 100-point score evaluation was introduced per wine into the printed Guide, it having been used online last year already. This brings the wine scoring in line with the international scoring measure. However, the star rating remains.

#   Ageability of wines is flagged, highlighting red and fortified wines that can be kept for 8-10 years, and 4-6 years for white wines. 

#   To find wineries more easily, Platter’s linked up with What3Words, enabling one to find them via the W3W App or website. 

#.  The big secret each year is the colour of the Guide, the 2019 salmon pinkish colour called amphora. 

#   A winner per category was announced, creating 25 new ‘Wines of the Year’ Award winners.

Van Zyl explained the change made to the evaluation of the five-star wines. Initially all 9000 wines are evaluated sighted. This year all wines with a score of 93 points and more were assessed in blind tastings within categories. In the blind tasting all wines which scored 95 – 100 points were awarded five-stars. 

Judges tasting the wines were Winifred Bowman, Hennie Coetzee, Greg de Bruyn, Joanne Gibson, Tim James, Angela Lloyd, Cathy Marston, Fiona McDonald, Gregory Mutambe, Christine Rudman, Dave Swingler, Cathy van Zyl, and Meryl Weaver. 

Then the big award presentation began, efficiently handled, so that it was completed in under an hour, before the 2019 five-star wines could be tasted by all:

Winery of the Year: Top Performing Winery of the Year 2019

Mullineux was announced as the top performing winery of 2019, with five five-star wines. Its Straw Wine achieved five-stars in eight of the past nine years, a record. It has twice before, in 2014 and 2016, won Winery of the Year. 

Winery of the year: Newcomer Winery of the Year 2019

Erika Obermeyer Wines won this inaugural award, with two five-star wines too. Erika Obermeyer left Graham Beck’s Still Wines division when it closed down, and started making her own wines, using grapes from older vines, using rented facilities. 

Winery of the Year: Editor’s Award 2019

Newton Johnson Vineyards won this inaugural award, the winery having been established in the ‘Nineties by Dave and Felicity Johnson in the Hemel en Aarde Valley, an unproven wine-producing area at that time. Their two sons Bevan, and Gordon with wife Nadia, run the winery now, handling marketing and winemaking, respectively, with a highly successful Pinot Noir, but there is no ‘arrogance and assertiveness’. ‘The Newton Johnsons remain as unassuming as they are successful’. 

Méthode Cap Classique 

#   Colmant Absolu Zero Dosage NV

#   Villiera Monro Brut 2012 – category winner 

#   Woolworths Vintage Reserve Brut 2012

Chardonnay 

#   Haskell Anvil 2012

#   Leeu Passant Stellenbosch 2016 – category winner

#   Oak Valley Groenlandberg 2017

#   Restless River Ava Marie 2016

#   Warwick The White Lady 2017

Chenin Blanc

#  Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2017

#  Botanica Mary Delaney 2017

#   Cederberg Five Generations 2016

#   City on a Hill 2017

#   David & Nadia 2017

#.  David & Nadia Hoë-Steen 2017

#   David & Nadia Skaliekop 2017

#   DeMorgenzon Reserve 2017

#   DeMorgenzon The Diva 2017 – category winner 

#   Metzer Montane 2017

#   Rall Ava 2017

#   Sadie Skurfberg 2017

#.  Savage Never been asked to Dance 2017

#   Spier 21 Gables 2017

#   Spier Farm House Organic 2016

#   Spioenkop Sarah Raal 2017

#   Stellenrust 53 Barrel Fermented 2017

#.  Thistle & Weed Duwweltjie 2017

Sauvignon Blanc Unwooded 

#  Steenberg The Black Swan 2017 – category winner 

Sauvignon Blanc Wooded

#   Bartho Eksteen Houtskool 2017 – category winner

Semillon 

#   Alheit Colline 2017

#   Benguela Cove Catalina 2017

#   Rickety Bridge Road to Santiago 2016 – category winner 

White Blends Cape Bordeaux

#   Cape Point Isliedh 2017

#   Shannon Capall Ban 2015

#   Vergelegen GVB 2015 – category winner

#   Warwick Professor Black 2017

White Blends Other

#.  B Vintners Vine Exploration Co Harlem to Hope 2017

#.  Lourens Lindi Carien 2017

#.  Mullineux Old Vines 2017

#.  Rall 2017

#.  Sadie Palladius 2016

#.  Savage 2017

#.  Stark-Condé The Field Blend 2017

#.  Thorne & Daughters Rocking Horse 2017 – category winner

Cabernet Franc 

#   Raats 2016

#   Raats Dolomite 2016 – category winner

#   Van Loggerenberg Breton 2017

Cabernet Sauvignon 

#   Bartinney 2015

#   Erika Obermeyer Erika O 2015

#   LeRiche Reserve 2015 – category winner 

#   Reyneke Biodynamic Reserve 2015

#   Stellenbosch Reserve Ou Hoofgebou 2016

#   Warwick The Blue Lady 2015

Grenache Noir 

#   Sadie Soldaat 2017 – category winner

Merlot

#  Oldenburg 2015

#   Shannon The Shannon Black 2013 – category winner

#   Thelema Reserve 2015

Petit Verdot

#   Thelema Sutherland Reserve 2015 – category winner

Pinotage

#.  Beeslaar 2015

#.  Beyerskloof Diesel 2016

#.  Kanonkop Black Label 2016 – category winner

 Pinot Noir 

#   Crystallum Cuvée Cinéma 2017 – category winner

#   Newton Johnson Family Vineyards 2017

Shiraz/Syrah

#   Dorrance Syrah Cuvée Ameena 2016

#.  Hartenberg CWG Auction Reserve Shiraz 2015 

#   Leeuwenkuil Heritage Syrah 2015 – category winner

#.  Luddite Shiraz 2014

#.  Mullineux Iron Syrah 2016

#.  Mullineux Schist Roundstone Syrah 2016

#.  Porseleinberg Syrah 2016

#.  Rall Ava Syrah 2017

#.  Rhebokskloof Black Marble Hill Syrah 2015

#.  Rust en Vrede Single Vineyard Syrah 2015

Tinta Barocca

#.   Elemental Bob Cosmic Flower Graveyard 2017 – category winner

Red Blends, Cape Bordeaux 

#   Allée Bleue L’Amour Toujours 2014

#   Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2015

#.  Muratie Ansela van de Caab 2015

#   Plaisir de Merle Signature 2012 – category winner

Red Blends, with Pinotage

#   Beyerskloof Faith 2014 – category winner

Red Blends, with Shiraz/Syrah

#   Boekenhoutskloof The Chocolate Block 2017

#   Erika Obermeyer Erika O Syrah-Grenache Noir-Cinsault 2016

#   Saronsberg Full Circle 2016 – category winner

Red Blends Other

#   Ernie Els Proprietor’s Blend 2016 – category winner

#   Rust en Vrede Estate 2015

#   Waterford The Jem 2014 

Natural Sweet

#   Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2014 – category winner

Noble Late Harvest 

#   Paul Cluver Riesling 2017 – category winner

Vin de Paille

#   Mullineux Straw Wine 2017 – category winner 

Port-style

#   De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve 2016

#.  Overgaauw Cape Vintage 1998 – category winner

Surprise omissions, given how regularly they have received five-stars in the past, are brands such as Hamilton Russell, Creation, Boekenhoutskloof, Nederburg, Flagstone, Neil Ellis Wines, Bouchard Finlayson, Jordan Wines, Richard Kershaw, and AA Badenhorst. 

The Guide shares some trends in SA wines, writing that the gap between a tiny elite top-end locally internationally successful wine community, and a bottom-end mass bulk wine production at rock-bottom prices, ‘contribute to worries about the financial viability of swathes in the industry’. Sharing marketing activities internationally, or local festivals, reduces costs for wineries. The harvest size in 2018 reduced due to the drought, leading to a reduced income. A trend is seen in a reducing number of grape farmers, by about 20% in the past ten years. An increasing number of varieties is being planted. More white than red wine is produced, a two-thirds majority, with 18% being Chenin Blanc alone. Worrying is that per capita wine consumption is 7,6 litres in 2017, a decrease on the year before. 

‘Platter’s by Diners Club International 2019 South African Wine Guide’, Tel (028) 316-3049 www.wineonaplatter.com Twitter: @wineonaplatter Instagram: @wineonaplatter R270 hard copy, R175 digital, R350 combination price. 

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein

 

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