International gurus at Veritas judging

Thursday, 19 September, 2013
The high regard with which wine makers and brandy masters, as well as wine consumers, regard the Veritas results, renders it no easy feat to taste and judge the 1 792 entries for the 2013 competition.
Each year international experts are invited to join the highly qualified local judging teams to take on this mammoth task. This year the more than 100 judges will be in action at the Nederburg Auction Complex from 16 -20 September. 

“Our practice of signing on international wine personalities undoubtedly enhance the international interest in the Veritas competition,” says Charles Hopkins, SANWSA chairperson.  “On the one hand these wine gurus return to their circles of influence with favourable impressions of our wines and of the credibility of the Veritas results, and on the other hand our judges and entrants gain valuable feedback from the parts of the world to where their wines are being exported.”

UK born Mimi Avery has been part of the UK wine trade for the past 20 years, fourteen of which at Averys of Bristol, one of the famous wine houses in the UK.  Avery, currently Brand Ambassador for Averys, is a former wine buyer with South Africa as one of her countries of focus; and a judge for global wine competitions such as the International Wine Challenge and Winestars International.

Frank Smulders from the Netherlands became in 1992 only the second continental European Master of Wine - generally seen as the highest qualification in the world in terms of wine knowledge. In his capacity as consultant and educator, Smulders has worked for a number of famous Spanish wineries like the Celler de Capcanes, and recently oversaw one of the largest wine collections in the world, the famous Palais Coburg wine cellar in Vienna, Austria.

Thomas Lüber from Germany, a regular judge at Veritas, is a wine consultant with extensive wine judging and buying experience. Lüber served as the chief buyer of SA wines for WIV Wein International AG - the world’s largest direct wine sales company with wine interests in Germany, France, Hungary, Australia and South Africa - for 20 years.

Johan Larsson holds the title as wine adviser to the King and Queen of Sweden.  He is also the chief wine buyer of South African, Greek, Turkish and Asian wines for the Swedish wine retail monopoly, Systembolaget.

Denis Lahouratate, cellar master at the French House of Bisquit Cognac, brings his expertise especially for the judging of the 34 brandy entries. His illustrious wine making career includes bouts at Maison Joseph Mellot in Sancerre, a period as cellar master at Lillet (well-known Bordeaux aperitif), and later the Leopold Gourmel House of Cognac.

Dave Hughes, a stalwart on the South African wine scene will once again join Lahouratate as chairman of the judging panel for the brandy entries.  Hughes is an international wine judge of note, a proficient wine and spirits. He also chairs a number of other panels.

Judging ins and outs
Sauvignon Blanc is again leading with 201 entries compared to the 192 of Shiraz this year.  Cabernet Sauvignon followed with 144 entries and Red Blends (Any other blend) with 137. Thirty-four standard, vintage and pot still brandy entries were received.

A wine judging certificate from the University of Stellenbosch, the Wine Judging Academy, a Cape Wine Master Diploma or similar accreditation is essential for inclusion in the tasting panels. The local team of judges consist of a variety of wine makers, researchers, academics, Cape Wine Masters, wine buyers, wine writers and consultants. Panels of seven judges blind taste the entries according to areas of expertise. Scores are awarded according to the 20-point scale: 18 or more wins a double gold; 17 points is worth gold and silver goes to a 16-point wine/brandy.  A bronze medal goes to a wine/brandy with 15 points.  

The announcement of the medal winners will take place on 5 October at the Cape International Convention Centre (CTICC) at a dazzling event sponsored by Agri-Expo.

For more information about the public tastings of double gold and gold medal winners, visit or contact Elsabé Ferreira at tel 021 863 1599 or via email to

Twitter: @veritasawards

Issued on behalf of the Veritas Awards
Contact: Bennie Howard l tel 082 551 5545
Issued by: Marlene Truter Communications
Contact: Marlene Truter l tel 021 438 6836 l email