Platter 2016 revealed

Platter fivestar logoWhatever one thinks of the Platter Wine Guide these days, the announcement of the year’s crop of five star wines, White, Red and Winery of the Year, probably generates more excitement than any other awards. This year is no exception, with the 83 Five Star laureates receiving their certificates earlier this evening at a function in the Mount Nelson Hotel. The full list appears below.

The guide is now into it’s 36th edition and my own 30th year of tasting and writing. The task has multiplied hugely; what used to be John, Erica, their ‘PA’, myself and the printers, has morphed into: Sales & Administration, Advertising, Typesetting and Maps, Database and QR Codes Coordinators, Copywriters, Tasters, Associate Editors, the very important and efficient Editor, Phil van Zyl and finally Publisher; in total 29 (some doubling up in different roles; I might be one or two short).

Chris & Andrea Mullineux of Mullineux & Leeu Wines, Platter 2016 Winery of the Year.
Chris & Andrea Mullineux of Mullineux & Leeu Wines, Platter 2016 Winery of the Year.

But back to the present: it is Swartland’s year again with Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines taking a quintet of five star wines, included among them Red Wine of the Year, the new category, Dessert Wine of the Year and, for the second time in three years, Winery of the Year. This means a Swartland producer has held the title for the past three years: Sadie Family Wines receiving it last year. In all, Swartland producers have captured 12 five star wines, an excellent record given the area’s relatively small number of producers.

Stellenbosch, as one might expect, boasts the majority of this top rating and also White Wine of the Year – Warwick White Lady Chardonnay 2014, also an awardee on yesterday’s Prescient Chardonnay list. There are good showings too from Constantia, Elgin, Hemel en Aarde, Franschhoek, Paarl, and Calitzdorp; Robertson too is in the mix; pretty well the whole of the winelands is covered.

But pouring over those names, it will be obvious there are some notable ones missing: Alheit, Boekenhoutskloof, Crystallum, De Trafford, DeMorgenzon, Fable, Hamilton Russell, Jordan, Kanonkop, Steenberg, Thelema, Tokara, Vergelegen – all with excellent international and local reputations; one would expect them to be on the five star roster. Yet again this illustrates the shortcomings of blind tastings however carefully they’re conducted. But I still think it’s a more credible process than any sighted determination for a five star rating.

The five star tasting this year included every wine already bottled and receiving 4.5*. In other words tasters didn’t nominate wines for five stars, though still scored each out of 100, with all over 90 going through. This left around 600 wines to be tasted over two days by eight panels of three tasters, results being achieved by consensus. To ensure as fair an assessment of each wine as possible, tasters had different starting points: beginning, end and in the middle with plenty of robust post-tasting discussion. Roving tasters, Michael Fridjhon and Cathy van Zyl MW helped where there were disputes.

Personally, I prefer tasters having to nominate wines for the five star tasting; this year’s method easily leads to laziness and lack of decision. We’ll see what happens next year.
One positive change in this year’s guide, one I’ve been pushing for over many years, is that only the five and four-and-a-half stars entries are in red, all four stars now join the rest in black print. A good move to highlight the more limited top tiers.

Just a little to commemorate my own landmark year with the guide. When I joined John and Erica, it was very much in the early days of technology, with Erica resolutely using a typewriter (she’s a tech whizz-kid these days!). My first brief from her and John was a neatly typed two-A4 page of instructions, an extract as follows:

‘You will … handle the tasting and updating of information; and the chasing up of the tardy. You will be responsible for all the co-ops, for any new cellars, and for some estates. John will do his usual cellar visits to the major estates and producers … but would like you to accompany him as second palate and scribe. He will give you his assessments etc. for these cellars during or after the visit/tasting, and you will then work them into the existing entries.’ A list of a dozen wineries plus the Bergkelder follows. ‘From the above list, John would also like you to set up a tasting of cabernets, cab. blends and grand vin blancs (chardonnay and sauvignon) plus wooded whites.’

I should also point out that until then, copy was updated via cut-and-paste. As I had just bought my first desktop computer with floppies (remember them?), another task was to transfer the copy onto the PC and thence to those floppies – in chronological order – a nightmare!

The improbable magnitude of these instructions has caused much hilarity between Erica, John and myself over the years; needless to say I never got further than the tasting, updating of info and chasing, pretty pressured as it was.

By comparison, my responsibilities today are fewer but also greater in doing justice to our world-class wines. I do that to the best of my ability and get as depressed as others when wines I love don’t get the five star nod: the lovely wines from Bartinney, Thorne and Daughters, Iona and Sijnn are just a few missing this year.

Platter Publisher, JP Roussouw & Editor, Phil van Zyl at this evening's launch, with the 'Cool Breeze Blue' Platter 2016 cover.
Platter Publisher, JP Roussouw & Editor, Phil van Zyl at this evening’s launch, with the ‘Cool Breeze Blue’ Platter 2016 cover.

But that is life and Platter. As always, I remind readers it’s a guide, not a bible, use it to make discoveries – of new wineries, new varieties, new styles; so many wines other than those at the top of this year’s pile, deserve your attention.

WINERY OF THE YEAR
Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines

RED WINE OF THE YEAR
Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines Iron Syrah 2013

WHITE WINE OF THE YEAR
Warwick Estate White Lady Chardonnay 2014

DESSERT WINE OF THE YEAR
Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines Olerasay Straw Wine NV

FIVE STAR WINES

AA Badenhorst Family Wines Ramnasgras Cinsault 2014
AA Badenhorst Family Wines Red 2013

Anura Vineyards Méthode Cap Classique Brut 2011

Beeslaar Wines Pinotage 2013

Bellingham Bernard Series Basket Press Syrah 2013
Bellingham Whole Bunch Roussanne 2015

Bloemendal Estate Kanonberg 2014

Boplaas Family Vineyards Cape Vintage Reserve Port 2012
Boplaas Family Vineyards White Muscadel 2012

Botanica Wines Chenin Blanc 2014

Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak Pinot Noir 2013

Buitenverwachting Chardonnay 2014

Cape Chamonix Wine Farm Cabernet Franc 2013

Cape Point Vineyards CWG Auction Reserve White 2014

Cederberg Private Cellar Blanc de Blancs Brut 2010
Cederberg Private Cellar Ghost Corner Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Constantia Glen Constantia Glen Two 2014

Constantia Uitsig Natura Vista 2014
Constantia Uitsig Semillon 2014

David & Nadia Sadie Hoë-Steen Chenin Blanc 2014
David & Nadia Sadie Aristargos 2014
David & Nadia Sadie Grenache 2014

De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve 2013

Delaire Graff Estate Botmaskop 2013
Delaire Graff Estate Laurence Graff Reserve 2012

Dorrance Wines Chardonnay Cuvée Anaïs 2014

Eagles’ Nest Shiraz 2012

Eenzaamheid Chenin Blanc 2013

Ernie Els Wines CWG Auction Reserve 2013

Fleur du Cap Laszlo 2012

Foundry Viognier 2014

GlenWood Chardonnay 2013

Graham Beck Wines Lonehill Chardonnay 2014

Guardian Peak Wines Lapa Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Haskell Vineyards Anvil Chardonnay 2014
Haskell Vineyards Haskell IV 2010

Kaapzicht Wine Estate The 1947 Chenin Blanc 2014
Kaapzicht Wine Estate Vision 2012

Keermont Vineyards Riverside Chenin Blanc 2014

Ken Forrester Wines Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc 2014

Klein Constantia Estate Vin de Constance 2011

Kleine Zalze Wines Vineyard Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

La Couronne Wines Muscadel NV

Leeuwenkuil Family Vineyards Heritage series Syrah 2013

Luddite Wines Saboteur 2012

Meerlust Estate Rubicon 2010

Miles Mossop Wines Max 2012
Miles Mossop Wines Kika 2014

Mulderbosch Vineyards Faithful Hound 2013

Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines Granite Chenin Blanc 2014
Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines CWG Auction Reserve The Gris Semillon 2014
Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines White Blend 2014
Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines Iron Syrah 2013
Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines Olerasay Straw Wine NV

Mvemve Raats MR de Compostella 2013

MVH Signature Wines Chardonnay 2014

Nederburg Wines Noble Late Harvest 2014
Nederburg Wines The Young Airhawk 2014

Neil Ellis Wines Groenekloof Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Newton Johnson Vineyards Family Vineyards Chardonnay 2014
Newton Johnson Vineyards Family Vineyards Pinot Noir 2014
Newton Johnson Vineyards Resonance 2014

Nico van der Merwe Wines Mas Nicolas Cape 2013

Nitida Cellars Coronata Integration 2014

Oak Valley Wines Mountain Reserve White Blend 2011

Paul Cluver Estate Wines Seven Flags Chardonnay 2014

Reyneke Wines Syrah 2013

Richard Kershaw Wines Elgin Syrah 2013

Rijk’s Reserve Pinotage 2011

Sadie Family Wines T Voetpad 2014

Savage Wines CWG Auction Reserve Follow the Line 2013

Spier 21 Gables Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Spier Creative Block 2 2014
Spier 21 Gables Pinotage 2013
Spier CWG Auction Reserve Frans Smit 2011

Sterhuis Chardonnay Barrel Selection 2013

Sumaridge Wines Chardonnay 2013

Vondeling Erica 2012

Vuurberg Reserve 2012

Warwick Estate White Lady Chardonnay 2014

Waterkloof Circle of Life White 2013

Windmeul Cellar Pinotage 2014

Winery of Good Hope Radford Dale Black Rock 2013

Brandy/Husk Spirit

Boplaas Potstill 20 years

Dalla Cia 10 Year Old Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot Husk Spirit

KWV 10 Year Old Vintage

KWV 12 Year Old Barrel Select

KWV 15 Year Old Alambic

KWV 20 Year Old

KWV Nexus

Oude Meester Souverein

Van Ryn 12 Year Distillers Reserve

Van Ryn 15 Year  Fine Cask Reserve

Van Ryn 20 Year Collectors Reserve

Van Ryn Au.Ra

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2 thoughts on “Platter 2016 revealed

  1. Agree with some of the five stars. But some strange inclusions and lots of very good omissions. What happened with the Sauvignon category? Interesting to compare this list with my own SA wines of the year (tasted by one person, rather than a committee). Both useful, but very different.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Tim. Your second points could be applied to almost all shows as well as Platter. Worse, some of the wines I loved when I tasted and rated them sighted were judged blind on the 5* tasting by the panel I chaired – and failed. I didn’t judge sauvignons, so not sure what you mean by what happened with the category. There does need to be discussion about the 5* tasting and how it is held. After so much time and trouble is taken in assessing the wines sighted, selection of the 5* – even taking 2 days as we did this year – is insufficiently considered. Sighted or blind, with the 5* tasting, we’re caught between a rock and a hard place. That said, I don’t think those with established reputations will be harmed by a lack of or few 5* wines; on the other hand, some oddities that have sprung through the ranks will probably fall back into anonymity again. It’s happened before & it’ll happen again.

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