#VinoPeople: Anita Streicher-Nel shares highlights from her years as part of #TeamNederburg for the World Blind Tasting Championships

Monday, 7 October, 2019
wine.co.za , Trudie Webb (Editor)
Anita Streicher-Nel, Sales and Marketing Manager at Grangehurst, has been flying the South African flag high as part of #TeamNederburg at the World Blind Tasting Championships for five years. She shares some insights and highlights from the competition.

What were highlights from your trips to France, competing in the Championships?

There are actually too many highlights to mention….! The food, the cheeses, the wine, the hospitality! France is a great destination for all of these!

2015’s trip started with us visiting Mosaic Restaurant in Gauteng and being treated to an amazing lunch and wonderful wines from their cellar to train with. That was definitely a highlight for me!  The final was held in Châteauneuf du Pape at OGIER. The actual town of Châteauneuf du Pape was beautiful- walking up the stairs to the restaurant above and seeing the town was amazing. The vineyards around Châteauneuf were also incredible and tasting some Grand Cru Champagnes was a treat when we stopped there.There was also the picnic in front of the vineyards of the esteemed Domaine de Romanee Conti!! Priceless!! The team was Ralph Reynolds, Joseph Dhafana and Veronica Nobesutho Plaatjies.

JV’s (Jean Vincent Ridon - coach) little house in St Paul is such a quaint and cute little place! We had some amazing wines there and JV likes to cook for the team when we stay there. We felt like kings as he totally spoilt us! 

In 2016 we had the final in Provence at Château du Galoupet and it was great to again taste some wines from that area including Bandol. We also visited Chapoutier and the Hill of Hermitage and stood at the chapel. La Chapelle. Those vines are like monuments!

In 2017 we travelled to Germany and visited the Mosel and the Rheingau prior to the competition. The competition was held in Burgundy at Nuits St George. We were spoilt with visits to Salon in Champagne, Louis Latour in Burgundy to name but a few. As I love Riesling this was an unforgettable trip for me. We also went to Alsace, which probablyhas the most beautiful autumn scenery in France around Oct. I was very impressed with the Rieslings and Gewürztraminers from that area. I still want the map of Alsace! The other highlight for me was to dine at the Hospice de Beaune – a place with an incredible history! The food, (stinky) cheese and wines of Burgundy are world class!

In 2018 our trip started again in JV’s area of St Paul where we normally visit Domaine Grier. We then travelled to Barcelona and Rioja Alta and Baja. This was also a highlight for me – we visited a traditional winery Tondonia in Haro and then Palacios Remondo with more modern style wines. This was followed by a trip to Tannat country, the Madiran (Chateaux Bouscasse and Montus) - we had the pleasure of tasting some older vintage Tannats. Cahors was another breathtaking place and we learnt so much about Malbec and its flavor profile – we also saw a very old block of Malbec of over 100 yearsold at Clos de Triguedina. Then the visit to Angelus – what can I say – we had tears in our eyes as the bells rang to our national anthem! The wine and winemaking philosophy beyond brilliant! JV spoilt us to Chateau de Yquem at a restaurant in Bordeaux… a definite moment! The final took place in the Rousillon at a beautiful place close to the ocean called Chateau Serjac. Prior to the competition we dipped our toes in the Mediterranean Sea which again was priceless!

How has the process of selecting the team changed? Has it become more difficult to make the cut?

I don’t think it changed much, I still think it is a very difficult challenge. I think the wines became a little more difficult to identify as the coach really has opted to put in difficult varieties which could be very similar and or fool you in believing it is one thing whilst it is something else. You can do very well at the first round and be the top taster, but fail at the second round which focuses more on international wines. I also think there is a bit of luck involved and the gut feeling is a very important thing when tasting wines blind!! International experience and exposure to wines from abroad helps a lot which is why training is so important! Our personal wine circle tastes wines regularly to train our palates.

How does the team prepare for the competition?

We taste and talk and taste and talk and then repeat! Training is key and the coach’s guidance is of utmost importance.

What are the strengths of this year’s team?

We communicate well, we know each other well enough to understand the lingo, mannerisms and traits. We have skills, winemaking knowledge, technical knowledge and of course a special kind of intuition! 

The hardest part of the competition?

The final is the hardest part, being there in the room, waiting for the wines to be poured, the nerves, the hopes! That is just the thing, any country’s wine can be difficult to identify….Viognier from Lebanon? Nebbiolo from Mexico…. ultimately it remains and extremely humbling experience!

Wishing #TeamNederburg all the best for the World Blind Wine-tasting finals on Saturday, 12 October!

Founded in 2013, The South African Wine Tasting Championships is open to all - amateurs & professionals. In the spirit of ongoing education, and in an attempt to encourage new converts into the closed circle that is the wine world, the SAWTC allows all wine lovers to put their talents to the test. This year you can put your tastebuds to the test at the main Tops at Spar Wine Shows around the country, and Team SA will be competing again in France at the World Blind Wine Tasting Champs in Oct 2019, organised by French Magazine La Revue du Vin de France