Team Nederburg coach, Jean Vincent Ridon, reports on The World Blind Tasting Championship

Thursday, 17 October, 2019
Jean Vincent Ridon
With a 12th position at the World Blind Tasting Challenge on the 12th of October 2019 in Chambord (France) Team South Africa gained much more than an honourable position, they proved to the world that South Africa is a great wine nation.

This year France bagged the World title followed by the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan in third position. 27 Nations participated to the World Championship, and most agreed that it was the toughest ever, with some wines very difficult to identify.

The competition’s goal is to identify the cultivar(10 points), the country (5 points), the appellation (5 points) the vintage (3 points) and the producer (2 points). This year the wines served blind to national teams of 4 were:

  • Recaredo, Xarel Lo/Macabeo, Spain, Cava 2010
  • Van Vloxem, Riesling, Germany Mosel 2016
  • La Taille aux Loups, Chenin, France, Montlouis 2010
  • Gaia, Assyrtiko, Greece, Santorini 2018
  • Harkham Wines, Chardonnay (natural wine), Australia, Hunter Valley 2017
  • Chateau Musar, Cabernet/Carignan/Cinsault, Lebanon, Bekaa Valley 1999
  • J.P. Jamet, Syrah, France, Cote Rotie 2016
  • Domaine Singla, Syrah/Grenache, France, Cotes du Roussillon Village 2011
  • Raymond Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, USA, Napa 2012
  • Villa Saletta, Sangiovese, Italy, IGT Toscana 2015
  • Yacochuya, Malbec, Argentina, Cafayatte Salta 2011
  • Château Coutet, Semillon/Sauvignon, France, Barsac 2009

Team Nederburg won 12th position, despite struggling with the Chateau Musar 1999 and the Greek Assyrtiko. It was the first time that the line-up included no South African wines  and we can’t help to notice that 4 wines were from France, a possible explanation for the French domination this year.

Some puzzling wines lead to very low scores, even from the top 3 teams. The Harkham Chardonnay natural wine from Australia was mistaken for a Swartland or Rhone Marsanne, and the Californian Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley was tasted as a Stellenbosch Pinotage by many teams. In the same common mistake the wooded Chenin Blanc from Montlouis was so lemony that most teams mistook it for a Chardonnay, and a very good one. Chenin can be such a morphing grape…

But Team South Africa marked well earned points with the Xarel Lo grape from the Cava. They identified the Syrah from the Rhone even if the Jamet full bunch tannins were mistaken for a more rustic Cornas, and the Semillon from Sauterne was found even though the 2009 vintage was a very hot one, there was little trace of noble rot, and a very low acidity. Captain Anita Streicher-Nel was very confident about the Sangiovese, despite the misleading light colour, but luckily she trusted her instinct and did not listen to the coach (the coach is not allowed to taste or smell the wine, but can only see the colour).

The 27 participating countries found the most beautiful arena to compete with the championship held at Chateau de Chambord, in the Loire Valley. This monument designed by Leonardo da Vinci was celebrating its 500th anniversary in 2019.

It was impressive to witness the emergence of China and Taiwan, claiming two places on the podium, and the great performance of Belgium, the former world champion, taking the 4th place in the competition. South Africa finished one point  short from Romania, a new team joining the competition, but led by Julia Scavo, the famous international sommelier.

Team Nederburg 2019 was selected out of the South African Wine Tasting Championship (SAWTC) in partnership with the Tops@Spar Wine Show. Captained by Anita Streicher-Nel, Anton Swarts (CWM), Heidi Kritzinger and Cyril Meidinger were followed by Chris Groenewald, the team’s substitute.

Team SA was travelling for a week through the Loire Valley to discover exciting wines, look out for news and tips from their travels on

Positive news is that Le Concours Mondial de Bruxelles grants Anita Streicher-Nel and Anton Swarts an invitation to the next Concours Mondial in Brno, in the Czech Republic.

Thanks to the generous partnership with the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, Anita and Anton will be flying to South Moravia, an experience that will expose them to the "United Nations of Wine", as they describe themselves.

Le Mondial de Bruxelles may not be the largest wine competition in the world, but definitely one with the most international input with judges coming from more than 50 countries, and exploring a new location every year. After Valladolid, Beijing and Aigle (Switzerland), the competition will be held in Czech Republic for the first time in May 2020. Let’s make sure that Team South Africa will gain exposure and experience from this invitation.

Jean Vincent with Nederburg Pinotage - celebrating #PinotageDay at the Championship

Anton Swarts
Anton Swarts

Cyril Meidinger
Cyril Meidinger

more news