Veritably, the best wines

Wednesday, 16 October, 2013
Georgina Crouth, iol Lifestyle
For the past 23 years, double gold, gold, silver and bronze emblems on wine bottles have been the industry mark of quality for the top market-ready wines and brandies in South Africa.
Veritas is the longest-running wine competition in South Africa, synonymous with excellence in wine. Organised by the SA National Wine Show Association (Sanwsa), it is a competition described as being “for the industry, by the industry”. There is no commercial gain for the industry, barring raising its profile.

Therefore the competition has earned the trust of consumers. Results are held as a standard for guiding buying decisions and contribute to a growth in sales. For ordinary consumers, an award translates into an assurance that the wine or brandy they’re buying, whether in a specialist retailer or a supermarket, is on a par with some of the world’s best.

Considering the sheer scale of the industry, wine estates have to enter their own wines for competition (it’s also not free). These are judged by a team of invited international and local wine experts who taste and evaluate 1 792 wines and brandies. That’s no easy task.

Having international judges not only helps to raise interest in the competition, but it also gives entrants feedback from parts of the world to where their wines are being exported. This year the final-stage judges included Mimi Avery, the brand ambassador of Averys of Bristol (UK); Frank Smulders,a consultant and educator from the Netherlands; German wine consultant Thomas Lüber; Johan Larsson, chief wine buyer for the Swedish wine retail monopoly Systembolaget; and Denis Lahouratate, cellar master at the French House of Bisquit Cognac. Local wine guru Dave Hughes, a respected international judge, joined his European counterparts.

On October 5, the winners of the gold and double gold awards were announced at a black-tie event at Cape Town International Convention Centre.

It wasn’t hard to spot the winemakers’ partners – just about all of them were women – dressed in the most elegant of evening wear. As a veteran winemaker told me a long time ago, winemakers are not in it for the money because there are far easier ways to get rich. But their wives certainly seem to know how to look their best.

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