Countdown to D-Day for Team SA

Friday, 5 October, 2018
wine.co.za / Trudie Webb (News Editor)
With a last training session on local soil behind their back, South Africa's heavyweight palates depart for France today to participate in the World Blind Tasting Championships (WBTC) in France on Friday, 13 October. Meet #TeamNederburg #TeamSA2018...

South Africa's national sport teams are sure to envy Team SA, our local wine tasting champions. Who else can say their training includes tasting wines from all over the world to face their opponents with glasses filled with foreign wines? Glamorous as it sounds, this quest for the best by way of a blind wine tasting requires a lot of intensive training to get the team's palates sharp enough to identify wines by cultivar, wine-growing area, vintage, winery and country.

South Africa is fortunate enough to start off with a great team of tasters, identified as best of the best in the South African Wine Tasting Championships held earlier this year. With help from French Sommelier, Jean-Vincent Ridon, as team coach, they are on their way to make SA proud in their match with other tasting teams from around the world.

Anita Streicher-Nel can be called the blind wine tasting queen, having secured her spot in Team SA for the fourth time and captaining the team for the third year. She prefers the title of "Springbok Suiper", a title jokingly given to her by her mother. Although she makes us proud in her green Team SA shirt, she is much more than a Springbok Suiper. Anita is in charge of the marketing for Anthonij Rupert Wyne, with a long career in the wine industry and even some experience tasting for the International Wine Challenge. Her palate is hard to beat and her natural calmness is a great advantage in tough competitions like the WBTC.

Just one tick behind Anita is Anton Swarts, Spier winemaker, who is part of Team SA for the third time. Returning to the WBTC is perhaps not the key to winning it but that, together with his winemaking background and 20 years in the wine industry definitely makes Anton a valuable part of the team.  Anton loves to say that "the more you know about wine you realise how little you actually know about wine”. As South Africa's 100th Cape Wine Master with a keen curiosity to always learn more about the subject, his incredible knowledge is shown when his tasting skills are put to the test.

There must be something in the water (or wine) at Spier, with another Spier team member joining Team SA this year. Tasting Room Manager and Sommelier, Welma Smith, joins the team for the first time. Paarl born and bred, Welma used to play in Boland cellars as a little girl, developing a love for fermented Chenin Blanc. Clearly tuned in to the finer things, like the smell of wines, she kicked off her career in wine with studies in Bordeaux and she's furthering her wine education by completing her WSET Level 4.

More new blood to join the team is Pieter de Klerk who beat some tough competition in the Gauteng leg of the South African Wine Tasting Championships. Pieter, a business owner from Kempton Park, is the only team member not working in the wine industry or living in or near the winelands. Pieter is definitely more than just an avid wine lover and shows what true dedication and a love of wine looks like, having refined all his wine tasting skills outside of the winelands.

Team coach, Jean-Vincent isn't the only one with French roots in the team this year. Team substitute, Cyril Meidinger, of French and Greek descent and a qualification from the Toulouse Business School in France, heads back to France with a whole new mission. As part of fine wine merchants Robinson & Sinclair and experience in the French and Greek wine industries, Cyril proved his strength in blind wine tasting in the extremely challenging finals of the South African Wine Tasting Championships. 

With a week to go until the WBTC, the team will spend as much time as possible on further training with plans to visit parts of Spain that includes Penedes, Cava and Rioja, mastering the Tannat grape n Madiran, Malbec in Cahors and experiencing all the classics in Bordeaux.

 

Coach Jean Vincent Ridon, Captain Anita Streicher-Nel, Pieter de Klerk, Welma Smith, Anton Smuts & Cyril Meidinger

The annual WBTC is organised by French wine publication, La Revue du Vin de France, with the final test happening in Bezier in the Lanquedoc in South West France on Saturday 13th Oct 2018.

South Africa’s team is sponsored by the Nederburg winery near Paarl, one of South Africa’s most awarded and admired names in wine, and wine.co.za has been a stalwart supporter of the team since its inception and proud that the team carries our name to France with them.

To show your encouragement and support for #TeamNederburg #TeamSA2018, follow them on Facebook and Twitter:@SAWineChampion.

Interact with Nederburg on social media using the hashtags #NederburgTeamSA2018 #OnceUponaNederburg #SAWTC #WineTasting #Wine

Wine.co.za's Spotlight Page for SA Wine Tasting Champs will be posting stories of their trip - so keep an eye on it

TeamSA2018 training at Nederburg
TeamSA2018 training at Nederburg

Anita Streicher-Nel (Captain)
Anita Streicher-Nel (Captain)

Pieter de Klerk
Pieter de Klerk

Anton Swarts
Anton Swarts

Welma Smith
Welma Smith

Cyril Meidinger
Cyril Meidinger

TeamSA2018 training at Nederburg
TeamSA2018 training at Nederburg

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