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.
herself, still looking glamorous as she always does!