With the launch of the 2015 edition of Platters South African Wine Guide, a new era begins as Jean-Pierre Rossouw (JP) completes his first year as publisher.
There are changes too in the guide itself: no longer are the four-star and above wines highlighted in red and for many wines below four stars, only the ratings are listed with no tasting notes. These will be incorporated on the website.
It’s a pity that the red print has disappeared altogether; I’ve long mooted for the five and four-and-a-half stars only to be printed in red, which was on the cards at one stage, before the decision was taken for entirely black print (a question of cost?). It might make all wines look equal but it also makes the text appear more dense and unfriendly to read. Time will tell whether this was the right move.
But these are incidentals as compared with what everyone wants to know at the launch of a new edition: the five star wines, white and red wines of the year and, at the top of the ladder, the winery of the year.
A word on the last of those, which has been won for a second time by Sadie Family Wines. The choice of winery of the year is the editor, Phil van Zyl’s prerogative, but in previous years the choice was made easier, since different wineries received more five stars than any other. Not that this criteria is the defining one; a few years ago, Kanonkop won the award when other wineries had more five star wines. This year, none outperformed Eben Sadie’s trio; the award is well deserved, not least for Sadie’s consistency.
I can’t think of any other winery that has received the white wine of the year two years in a row; DeMorgenzon’s success is also achieved with the first vintage of their Reserve Chardonnay, a noteworthy feat.
This year, the five star tasting was a much longer affair, the teams of three encouraged to take their time deliberating over their allocated wines, a maximum of 60. To help out in divisive situations, Michael Fridjhon and Cathy van Zyl MW acted as roving palates. While there was plenty of discussion before giving a final score – between 90 and 100, with those scoring 95 and over receiving five stars – there were inevitably, unlucky losers, wines which really deserve five stars. Blind tasting, however carefully carried out, is not a perfect science.
As might be expected, white blends captured the most five stars with eight. Then it was over to the reds, with cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and red blends receiving five apiece.
Of greater surprise is that the smaller pinot noir category produced four five-star wines. A few weeks’ ago, I wrote here how pinot has enjoyed considerable success in the five star stakes and asked whether we’re deluding ourselves that we can produce so many pinots of such quality. Well according to that panel, we can to the extent that this guide includes the most five star pinots ever. The jury’s out on how they’d all bank up in an international line up (perhaps the topic for an interesting tasting), but kudos and congratulations to Nadia and Gordon Newton Johnson (and the whole NJ family), whose Family Vineyards Pinot Noir 2013 chalks up a sixth successive five star rating.
On that topic, it’s sad to see two wines which have also enjoyed numerous successive five stars – Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest (seven) and Nederburg Ingenuity White (six) – not make it this year.
At the other end of the scale, nine wineries won their maiden five stars: Creation Wines, Crystallum, Diners Club Bartho Eksteen Academy, Fram, Iona, Oldenburg, Porseleinberg, Stellenbosch Vineyards/Flagship and Sumaridge.
Brandies were introduced last year but of their nature were not re-assessed. The KWV 12 Year Old Barrel Select is a new member of the range, so eligible for rating.
Little publicity is given to the back-room people during the tasting period; they are the ones who keep the whole dynamic moving – chasing wineries, sorting wines, querying missing wines/name changes, liaising with tasters, updating the database and much more. It’s a task that demands stamina, attention to detail and a calm temperament plus a dose of good humour. Christina Harvett and her band of ‘eleves’ (mainly university students) do a remarkably efficient job; without them, Platter tastings wouldn’t function and be completed within the time frame. They deserve as much acknowledgement as anyone else involved.
WINERY OF THE YEAR
Sadie Family Wines
WHITE WINE OF THE YEAR
DeMorgenzon Chardonnay Reserve 2013
RED WINE OF THE YEAR
De Trafford Blueprint Syrah 2012
FIVE STAR WINES
Warwick Estate Cabernet Franc 2011
Groot Constantia Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Le Riche Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2011
Nederburg Wines II Centuries Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Oldenburg Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Stark-Condé Wines Three Pines Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Sadie Family Wines Pofadder 2013
Stellenbosch Vineyards Flagship Petit Verdot 2010
Flagstone Winery Time Manner Place Pinotage 2012
Kanonkop Estate Black Label Pinotage 2012
Creation Wines Reserve Pinot Noir 2013
Crystallum Cuvée Cinéma Pinot Noir 2013
Newton Johnson Vineyards Family Vineyards Pinot Noir 2013
Sumaridge Wines Pinot Noir 2012
Boekenhoutskloof Winery Syrah 2012
Boschendal Wines Cecil John Reserve Shiraz 2012
De Trafford Wines Blueprint Syrah 2012
Fable Mountain Vineyards Syrah 2012
Porseleinberg Porseleinberg 2012
Delaire Graff Estate Botmaskop 2012
Ernie Els Wines CWG Auction Reserve 2012
Hartenberg Estate The Mackenzie 2011
Thelema Mountain Vineyards Rabelais 2010
Vilafonté Series C 2011
DeMorgenzon Reserve Chardonnay 2013
Iona Vineyards Chardonnay 2013
Richard Kershaw Wines Elgin Chardonnay 2013
Sterhuis Barrel Selection Chardonnay 2012
Alheit Vineyards Magnetic North Mountain Makstok 2013
Fram Wines Chenin Blanc 2013
Kaapzicht Wine Estate The 1947 Chenin Blanc 2013
The Foundry Grenache Blanc 2013
Buitenverwachting Husseys Vlei Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Diners Club Bartho Eksteen Academy CWG Auction Reserve Vloekskoot Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Reyneke Wines Reserve White 2013
Vergelegen Wines Reserve Semillon 2013
Constantia Uitsig Constantia White 2013
David & Nadia Sadie Aristargos 2013
DeMorgenzon Maestro White 2013
Flagstone Winery Treaty Tree Reserve White Blend 2013
Miles Mossop Wines Saskia 2012
Oak Valley Wines Mountain Reserve White Blend 2010
Sadie Family Wines Palladius 2012
Sadie Family Wines Skerpioen 2013
Méthode Cap Classique
Graham Beck Wines Blanc de Blancs Brut 2009
Dessert Wine, Unfortified
Delheim Wines Edelspatz Noble Late Harvest 2013
Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines Straw Wine 2013
Dessert Wine, Fortified
Nuy Wine Cellar White Muscadel 2013
Boplaas Family Vineyards Cape Tawny Vintners Reserve NV
De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve 2012
KWV 12 Year Old Barrel Select Brandy