Local wines garner top honours in international taste-off

Thursday, 27 May, 2004
Shelly van Zyl
South African wines are world class, top class!
That’s the incontestable conclusion after a duplicate tasting of local wines by two panels on different continents concurred that no fewer than three local wines merited a 5-star rating.

Fairview Oom Pagel Semillon 2002 (Paarl), Boekenhoutskloof Syrah 2001 (Franschhoek) and Forrester Meinert Chenin 2002 (Stellenbosch) emerged undisputed champions in independent tastings of top South African wines by the UK’s Wine International and South Africa’s WINE magazine.

A further two wines, the Kanu Limited Release Wooded Chenin Blanc 2002 and De Trafford Straw Wine 2001, were also awarded 5-stars by WINE, bringing to five the tally of wines regarded as superlative by the local panel – a singular record for the magazine, which had previously deemed just 11 wines worthy of the ultimate rating in its 10 year history.

Collectively the panels rated a further 17 wines worthy of 4½-star ratings, while 16 wines scored 4-star ratings.

The taste-off was the first venture of its kind by the two wine authorities to assess the quality of South African wines. Together the panels produced a line-up of 61 SA wines determined by both to be among the most highly regarded. Consensus was found on three, with the UK panel also awarding 5-stars to the Vergelegen Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 and De Trafford Elevation 393 2000 – wines rated 4-stars by the WINE magazine (SA) panel.

The Wine International team – represented by Robert Joseph, Charles Metcalfe, Anthony Rose and Derek Smedley MW – were particularly impressed by the Merlots, Shiraz wines and Semillons in the line-up, while the Cape’s Chenin Blanc was 'increasingly raising the game,' they felt.

Leading the South African contingent of judges was Michael Fridjhon, who declared the event the benchmark tasting of the year. He was joined by Cape Wine Master Allan Mullins, honorary member of the Institute of Cape Wine Masters Dave Hughes and WINE’s editor and deputy editor, Fiona McDonald and Christian Eedes.

The full results of the tasting are in the June issue of WINE, on sale from 26 May – or visit www.winemag.co.za

Issued by: Shelly van Zyl
Email: Shelly@rsp.co.za