Team SA heads for France

Wednesday, 11 September, 2013
Judy Brower -
A Frenchman taking Team SA to compete in the World Champs... now that is a first!
It takes pioneers to make a difference in the world.

Jean-Vincent Ridon of Signal Hill wines started the South African Wine Tasting Competition.  He took an idea and made it into a reality and now 4 wine professionals are heading off to France to compete in the World Blind Wine-Tasting Championships in October.

Over 200 wine lovers entered the first South African Wine Tasting competition, held on Saturday 31 August at the Hilton Hotel in Cape Town.  46 wines from various contributing producers, among them Creation, Spice Route, Signal Hill, Slaley, Spier and Steenberg, were tasted sighted, and then 10 of these wines were available to be tasted blind, and the participants had to identify, as close as dammit, the variety, winery and vintage.
Gavin Whittaker, export manager at Lutzville Vineyards, who originally hails from the UK and is a WSET graduate, achieved the highest number of points. He even recognised a beaujolais which was thrown in as a red herring. It really is important for wine professionals to have the opportunity to taste foreign wines and his palate is obviously more used to these wines.

Jean-Vincent recognised the Top 10 tasters of the 200+ entries, being Bernard Classen, Lauren Cohen, Tawanda Marume, Ryan Mostert,  Khuselo Mputa - Sommelier at Aubergine restaurant,  Roland Peens from the Wine Cellar, Stephan Steyn, Chantelle Swanepoel - Steenberg Tasting Room Manager, Anton Swarts - winemaker at Spier,  and Gavin Whittaker, export manager at Lutzville.

Then the Top 4 were named, and the plan is they will take a week off to go to France with Jean-Vincent just before the Blind Tasting, and visit wineries there to get their palates accustomed to the wines there.  This is a wonderful opportunity, what with Jean-Vincent's contacts in the French winelands. 

Depending on passports/visas and time available, the Top 4 are Gavin Whittaker, Khuselo Mputa, Chantelle Swanepoel and Roland Peens, with Anton Swarts as first reserve.  So get those passports sorted team... we are keen to see how you do in France. was the official sponsor of the competition, and the top 4 will boast their aprons on their journey.
Watch out for the Blind Tasting champs, where Team SA will be participating for the first time, alongside other first-time entrants Australia and New Zealand. Go Team SA!
See more pics HERE

ETV was there to film the event - view their video below.

Judy Brower

Judy has been running alongside her hubby Kevin Kidson since 1996. She takes photos, attends functions, writes occasionally, sells services, is Mrs HR at the company, cooks yummy lunches from time to time and generally is the glue at