Last Monday I attended The Sommeliers Selection 2018 tasting of the top-scoring wines at Tokara Delicatessen, driving through from Cape Town on a rainy day. My two favorites I tasted were Arra Shiraz 2015, as well as Trizanne Reserve Syrah 2017.  The top wines in the tasting were selected by top Sommelier members of the South African SOmmeliers Association, and the Black Cellar Club. 

I had invited Aurélie Jullien to join me, a young Parisian I had met the week before at a Woolworths store, when she recognised me from Instagram, being one of my followers. Aurélie is spending three months in Cape Town, and is very interested in the restaurants of our city. She would love to find a job locally, to enable her to stay on in our city. Whereas Aurélie focused on tasting white wines, I chose only some red wines, given that I had to drive us back to Cape Town in the dark and rain. I couldn’t resist going outside to photograph the Bunny sculptures by Guy du Toit.

In the Deli space a table had been set up for each selected wine brand, making it a restricted space, given the number of persons attending the tasting. Wines were arranged alphabetically, and were represented by a person connected to the wine estate. Marketing material was available for most wine estates. 

Joakim Blackadder (main photograph above) was the chairman of the judging panel, and he described The Sommeliers Selection 2018 judging process as follows to me: 

We had two panels with four sommeliers judging on each, each of the panels had one head judge (Barry and Spencer), one associate judge (Wikus and Minnie, who in essence were being tutored for future competitions, and who’s score did not count), and two main judges (Tinashe, Neil, Esme, Billet). I acted as chair, jumping between the panels.

All wines were served blind and the only information available to the judges is the price (trade price excl. VAT), the vintage and the entered category (e.g. elegant & classy). This is quite useful to not give unfair but unintended advantages to more premium grapes vs. less premium ones.

The judging was done according to the 100 point scoring system, and each judge would be required to give his/her score and ¨listing¨ decision based on the quality, style and price. All wines that would be ¨listed¨ equates to the wines being awarded.

The judging was carried out over two days at Klein Joostenberg Bistro, and at the end of each day the both panel heads and the chair tasted through all awarded wines a second time to ratify the awards and ensure that nothing slipped through that should perhaps not have been awarded, making it a quite rigorous process and a selection that we all are very comfortably happy to stand behind.

The standout wines were awarded per category and if deemed to not be a clear enough standout in style to quality to price, no standout was awarded, which is why we had four this year but several more categories’.

The judging categories, and the wines selected in each, were the following:

#  Economically Savvy Whites: Vrede en Lust Early Mist Riesling 2017, Glen Carlou Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Laborie Sauvignon Blanc,  Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay 2017.

#  Economically Savvy Reds: Hartenberg Doorkeeper 2016, Arra Shiraz 2015 (described in its brochure as 90% Shiraz and 10% Mourvèdre; wooded for 12 months;  having berries, spice, fennel, fynbos, cream, and cherries on the nose; and black currant, marjoram, apricot, spice, lavender, and carpaccio on the palate).  Winemaker Chris van Reenen told me that the wine costs R88, that their cellar was built in 2002, and that an increasing volume of the wine is now sold locally, but that the bulk of the wines is exported to Texas, Nigeria, and Angola. 

#  Economically Savvy Pinks: Anthonij Rupert Wyne Protea Rosé 2017, in a beautiful reusable bottle design.

#   Fresh and Crunchy Whites: Fryer’s Cove Doringbay Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Hidden Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2017, La Motte Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Windfall Sauvignon Blanc 2018, and Babylonstoren Chenin Blanc 2017. 

#.  Elegant & Classy Whites: D’Aria The Following Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Highlands Road Sine Cera 2015, Darling Cellars Lady Ann Darling 2017, La Chataigne Semillon 2015, Botha Kelder Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc Bush Vine 2017, L’Avenir Single Block Chenin Blanc 2017, Cavalli Cremello 2016, Almenkerk Chardonnay 2016, Eikendal Chardonnay 2016, Mont Blois Hoog en Laag 2016, Glen Carlou Quartz Stone Chardonnay 2017, Glen Carlou Chardonnay 2017, Lothian Vineyards Vineyard Selection Chardonnay 2017, Paul Wallace Reflection Chardonnay, L’Avenir Provenance Chenin Blanc 2017.
 
#. Voluptuous & Rich Whites: Mont Blois Groot Steen 2016, Perdeberg Cellar The Dry Land Collection Courageous Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2016, Bottega Family Wine Whalehaven Conservation Coast Chardonnay 2014, Stellenbosch Vineyards Limited Release Verdelho 2016.  
 
#. Luscious & Aromatic Whites: La Chataigne Fumé Blanc 2017, Villiera Jasmine 2018
 
#. Pinks: Holden Manz Rosé
 
#.  Fresh & Crunchy Reds: Stellenbosch Vineyards Limited Release Grenache 2017, Leeuwenkuil Cinsault 2016, Stellenbosch Vineyards Limited Release Cinsault 2017.
 
#.  Elegant & Classy Reds: De Grendel Merlot 2016, Mitre’s Edge Malbec 2016, Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Windfall Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Jan Harmsgat JHG Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Druk My Niet Invictus Bordeaux Blend 2013, Zevenwacht Reserve 2013, The High Road Classique 2014, Val de Vie Valley of Life 2014, Wildehurst Red 2014, Vrede en Lust Boet Erasmus 2014, Babylonstoren Babel 2017, Ernie Els Big Easy Red Blend 2017, Bottega Family Wine Whalehaven Conservation Coast Pinot Noir 2014, Le Riche Richesse 2015.
 
#. Voluptuous & Rich Reds: Shannon Mount Bullet Merlot 2015, Boschendal 1685 Merlot 2016, Bottega Family Wine Idiom SMV Blend 2012, De Grendel Rubaiyat 2015, Glen Carlou Grand Classique 2015, L’Avenir Single Block Pinotage 2016, Eikendal Charisma 2016.
 
#.  Pale Fizz: Boschendal Grande Cuvée Brut 2013, La Motte MCC Brut 2015
 
#.  Rosé Fizz: Tradition Brut Rosé NV
 
#   Stickies & Fortified Wines: Perdeberg The Dry Land Collection Longevity Natural Sweet Chenin Blanc 2016, Slanghoek Crème de Chenin 2016, Slanghoek Noble Late Harvest 2016, Neethlingshof Maria Noble Late Harvest 2017, KWV Classic Collection Cape Tawny NV
 
#.   Cellar Selection: Grangehurst Nikela 2007
 
#.  Craft Beer:   Stellenbosch Brewing Co Stellies Mass Hoppiness IPA, Cape Town Mead Company Melaurea Mead Méthode Traditionelle.
 
Only in four of the above categories were Stand Out wines selected by the judges:
 
#. Economically Savvy Reds: Bellingham Wines Pinopasso 2016
 
#.  Elegant & Classy Whites: Cape Point Vineyards Isliedh 2016
 
#. Voluptuous & Rich Whites: Ken Forrester The FMC 2016
 
#.  Elegant & Classy Reds: Trizanne Reserve Syrah 2017 (held by Joakim in the main photograph above). 
 
The tasting was buzzy, with the number of attendees, including bloggers, and wine PR specialist for the Robertson area Mira Weiner (right). Ever smart-looking Reinher Behrens of Franschhoek Wine Valley, with his striking bow ties, was present too.  
 
The Sommelier Selection 2018 was organised by Darielle Robertson. I was most impressed when she was so hands-on with her event that she cleaned up a wine spill on the floor with a mop
herself, still looking glamorous as she always does!  
 
Mini hamburgers, pizza slices, and sweet treats including brandy chocolate truffles and nougat, were served. 
 
I was invited to attend The Sommeliers Selection by Pippa Pringle, PR consultant to The Sommeliers Selection. 
 
The Sommeliers Selection, www.sommeliersselection.co.za Twitter: SommeliersS. Instagram: @SommSelection 
 
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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