Platter 2019

Another year, another edition of Platter’s Wine Guide launched this evening; 2019 recording the 39th for those keeping count.

Of special significance is the 21 years Philip van Zyl has occupied the editor’s seat.  For the first three years – 1999 to 2001 – Erica Platter is also acknowledged as Consulting Editor, an arrangement which allowed for a smooth handover as she and John sold and left the guide. There was always going to be concern about who could take over from Erica;  with perfect timing, Phil and Cathy van Zyl relocated to the Cape from Johannesburg, Phil seamlessly stepping into Erica’s shoes. With her organisational skills, Cathy has always provided strong and invaluable support, keeping tabs on tasks completed, those still to be done and chivying us tasters to meet deadlines and our other tasks.

Philip van Zyl, Platter’s editor since 1999 edition

Working with Phil throughout those 21 years, apart from being a technical whiz kid, I’ve found he’s meticulous in his attention to detail – nothing gets past him; woe betide any taster who forgets to insert a vintage or inserts the wrong one (or any other piece of vital information). He also has a commendable sense of fairness; try being too hard on a wine and a gentle query will pop into your inbox (often sent at some unearthly hour of the night!); ‘Perhaps you should get a second opinion on this.’  A blind tasting by one or more of the other tasters usually results in a defendable rating. After a personal visit at the beginning of the year to ascertain each taster’s participation in the next guide, Phil is rarely spotted; he’s happiest behind his computer, where he deals with the current 13 tasters, admin and technical people with unbelievable calmness. It takes a special sort of person to do this so successfully, let alone for 21 years.  How lucky we and the guide are to have such a talented and dedicated editor.

This year’s five star haul contains many regulars; it’s good to see Newton Johnson Family Vineyards Pinot Noir 2017 back for a 9th time after strangely missing out last year; Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2017, Sadie Family Wines Skurfberg 2017  and Stellenrust 53 Chenin Blanc 2017 take away three consecutive five stars. Chenin Blanc yet again claims the greatest number of five stars; 18, one more than last year but inexplicably not including any of the Alheit wonderfully expressive 2017 individuals. As the lucky taster of Chris and Suzaan’s range, I was bowled over by all their wines but the five chenins in particular. I’m bemused none sufficiently impressed the panel but it doesn’t detract from their excellence. The same applies to Richard Kershaw MW who makes a fistful of clonal chardonnays and syrahs, both intelligently- and finely crafted; unfortunately, they too failed to sway the respective panels.

Just a reminder that each producer’s wines are initially tasted sighted and over a day or so, if necessary,  by the person responsible for the entry. The five-star tasting is blind, the tasters see only the glass of wine in front of them. This sort of result happens every year, which is why, whilst celebrating the five star awardees, the excellent wines that don’t make it shouldn’t be overlooked.

Some believe the five-star tasting should also be sighted, but every effort is made to keep it as fair as possible. One attempt has been to give the panel the home-taster’s score to double check against their own deliberations, this bearing in mind the home taster has longer to assess the wine.

There were also many fewer wines in the five-star line up this year thanks to a new selection method. Every wine now receives a score out of 100, as well as a star rating. All wines scored by the home taster between 90 and 92 are rated 4.5* but do not go into the five-star tasting; that’s reserved for wines rated 93 and above.

This method not only resulted in fewer wines in the five-star line up, but fewer five stars: 90 versus 111 last year. As a more manageable affair for both organisers and tasters, it still didn’t deny wines worthy of 4.5* their rating.

Those wines in the five-star tasting which didn’t make the grade are rated either 93 or, if the panel considered them Highly Recommended, 94. As usual, 95 was the magic score for five stars, but with the idea of awarding best wines per category (rather than Wines of the Year), the panels were asked to single out their best wine in each category with a higher score; hence a very few wines are rated 96 or even 97.

The advantage of this would give wineries with fewer wines in their range the chance of a significant Platter honour. This has been adopted this year and those wines are indicated with a * in the list below. There is also a Top Performing Winery of the Year, an Editor’s Award and Newcomer Winery of the Year. I have absolutely no quarrel with any of the recipients – Mullineux, Newton Johnson Vineyards and Erika Obermeyer respectively – all are thoroughly deserving of such accolades. But it’s also an improvement to see the honours spread wider.

That said, for many, Platter has lost relevance (‘too many four stars’ is still a frequent complaint). Platter isn’t and will never be perfect (wine is only perfect in the mind of the drinker at a moment in time), but it is a guide, way beyond stars and scores and deserves recognition for that.

Meantime, the question foremost of mind is: what colour is Platter’s 2019!

Chameleon colour – apparently changes depending on the light!

TOP PERFORMING WINERY OF THE YEAR

Mullineux

EDITOR’S AWARD

Newton Johnson Vineyards

NEWCOMER WINERY OF THE YEAR

Erika Obermeyer

FIVE STAR WINES

METHODE CAP CLASSIQUE

Colmant Cap Classique Absolu Zero Dosage NV

Villiera Wines Monro Brut 2012*

Woolworths Vintage Reserve Brut 2012

SAUVIGNON BLANC UNWOODED

Steenberg Vineyards The Black Swan 2017*

SAUVIGNON BLANC WOODED

Bartho Eksteen Houtskool 2017*

CHENIN BLANC

Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2017

Botanica Chenin Blanc 2017

Cederberg Five Generations Chenin Blanc 2016

City on a Hill Chenin Blanc 2017

David & Nadia Hoë-Steen Chenin Blanc 2017

David & Nadia Chenin Blanc 2017

David & Nadia Skaliekop Chenin Blanc 2017

DeMorgenzon The Divas Chenin Blanc 2017*

DeMorgenzon Chenin Blanc Reserve 2017

Metzer Family Wines Montane Chenin Blanc 2017

Rall Ava Chenin Blanc 2017

Sadie Family Wines Old Vine Series Skurfberg 2017

Savage Wines Never Been Asked to Dance 2017

Spier Organic Chenin Blanc 2016

Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2015

Spioenkop Wines Sarah Raal 2017

Stellenrust 53 Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2017

Thistle & Weed Duwweltjie 2017

CHARDONNAY

Haskell Anvil Chardonnay 2017

Leeu Passant Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2016*

Oak Valley Groenlandberg Chardonnay 2017

Restless River Ava Marie Chardonnay 2016

Warwick Estate The White Lady 2017

SEMILLON

Alheit La Colline 2017

Benguela Cover Lagoon Wine Catalina Semillon 2017

Rickety Bridge Road to Santiago 2016*

WHITE BLENDS

B Vintners Vine Exploration Co Harlem to Hope 2017

Lourens Family Wines Lindi Carien 2017

Mullineux Old Vines White 2017

Rall Wines White 2017

Sadie Famiy Wines Palladius 2016

Savage Wines White 2017

Stark-Condé Wines The Field Blend 2017

Thorne & Daughters Rocking Horse 2017*

BORDEAUX-STYLE WHITE BLENDS

Cape Point Vineyards Isliedh 2017

Shannon Vineyards Capall Bán 2015

Vergelegen GVB 2015*

Warwick Estate Professor Black 2017

PINOT NOIR

Crystallum Cuvée Cinema 2017*

Newton Johnson Vineyards Pinot Noir 2017

PINOTAGE

Beeslaar Wines Pinotage 2016

Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage 2016

Kanonkop Black Label 2016*

SHIRAZ

Dorrance Wines Syrah Cuvée Ameena 2016

Hartenberg CWG Auction Reserve 2015

Leeuwenkuil Heritage Syrah 2015*

Luddite Shiraz 2014

Mullineux Schist Syrah 2016

Mullineux Iron Syrah 2016

Porseleinberg Shiraz 2016

Rall Ava Syrah 2017

Rhebokskloof Wine Estate Black Marble Hill Syrah 2015

Rust en Vrede Single Vineyard Syrah 2015

CABERNET SAUVIGNON

Bartinney Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Erika Obermeyer Wines Erika O Cabernet sauvignon 2015

Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2015*

Reyneke Wines Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Stellenbosch Reserve Ou Hoofgebou Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Warwick Estate The Blue Lady 2015

MERLOT

Oldenburg Vineyards 2015

Shannon Vineyards The Shannon Black 2013*

Thelema Mountain Vineyards Reserve 2015

CABERNET FRANC

Raats Family Wines Cabernet Franc 2016

Raats Family Wines Dolomite Cabernet Franc 2016*

Van Loggerenberg Breton 2017

BORDEAUX BLENDS (RED)

Allée Bleue L’amour Toujours 2014

Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2015

Muratie Wine Estate Ansela van de Caab 2015

Plaisir de Merle Signature Blend 2012*

Ridgeback Signature C 2016

RED BLENDS

Beyerskloof Faith 2014 (Red blend with Pinotage)*

Boekenhoutskloof Chocolate Block 2017 (Shiraz-led Red blend )

Erika Obermeyer Erika O Syrah Grenache Noir – Cinsaut 2016 (Shiraz-led Red blend)

Saronsberg Full Circle 2016 (Shiraz-led Red blend)

Ernie Els Proprietor’s Blend 2016 (Other red blend)*

Rust en Vrede Wine Estate Estate blend (Other red blend)

Waterford Estate The Jem 2014 (Other red blend)

OTHER REDS

Elemental Bob Graveyard Tinta Barocca 2017*

Sadie Family Wines Soldaat 2017 (Grenache Noir)

Thelema Mountain Vineyards Sutherland Petit Verdot 2015

DESSERT UNFORTIFIED

Klein Constantia Estate Vin de Constance 2014*

Mullineux Straw Wine 2017 (Vin de Paille)*

Paul Cluver Estate Wines Riesling Noble Late Harvest 2017*

PORT STYLE WINES

De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve 2016

Overgaauw Wine Estate Cape Vintage 1998*

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