Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Platter’s South African Wine Guide 2014

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller at the Nelson Mandela Square in Johannesburg

The undisputed authority in terms of South African wine is the Platter's South African Wine Guide. The 2014 was just released.

For Platters of previous years, see:
Platter’s South African Wine Guide 2013
South Africa’s Top Wines - Platter´s South Africa Wine Guide 2012
Platter´s South Africa Wine Guide 2011

Modern South Africa

I have traveled in South Africa many times in the past 3 decades, in particular during the period 1989 to 1992, when I used to live in Madagascar. When traveling in South Africa today, it quickly becomes evident that apartheid is resting in the dustbin of history. South Africa’s current President is the Zulu Jakob Zuma, who is mired in personal and political controversy. The Txosa Nelson Mandela, who had spent more than 25 years in prison during apartheid, was President in the 1990s and is now a revered elder called "Madiba" ("Papa"). South Africa successfully hosted the Soccer World Cup. The Soccer World Cup was hoped to provide a boost to the tourism industry; but indications are that the expected boost did not materialize, at least not fully. The gap between the haves and have-nots continues to be wide, but is narrowing and a black middle class is emerging. This, however, is not so much evident in the wine region, which continues to be dominated by the whites. 99% of the vineyard area is in the hands of whites. The AIDS pandemic is taking a toll with the HIV infection rate at about 10 percent, though declining.

Pictures: Franschhoek Valley and Cape Town

Over the course of the years, I have detected an increasing openness, pride and camaraderie among all the South Africans – white, colored or black, Boers or Brits; Indians, Jews, Zulus, Txosas or Vendas, I met. Nevertheless, this rainbow society with a share of 75% of blacks, has huge challenges to cope with.

South African Wine Industry

Unlike other New World wine regions, the South African wine industry is strongly influenced by several large wine-cooperatives, including Distel and KWV; in total, there about 60 co-operatives. In addition, there are about 25 trading companies, or negociants, which often operate wineries, but seldom own their own vineyards. Among these are SAVISA, Winecorp, Stellenbosch Vineyards and Graham Beck; Western Wines is among the trading companies that are foreign based and owned; their brand Kumala is by far South Africa’s biggest brand. Over 80% of the total crop is delivered to these large wineries by about 4000 wine growers. However, private wineries have increasingly emerged and seen an impressive growth; there are now about 600 winemakers with their own cellars, most of them in the premium wine segment.

More than half of the total production is exported. The previous Cape powers, the UK and Netherlands, are traditionally the main destinations for wines shipments; but other markets are coming up, including Sweden, Denmark, the USA, Germany and Angola.

The wine industry is firmly in the hands of the whites, both white South Africans and foreign investors. But I had the pleasure to meet Ntsiki Biyela, a female black winemaker, who is producing outstanding wines at Stellekaya in Stellenbosch. Also, the Diemersfontein wine portfolio included a line of wines that was produced in the framework of the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) program (to promote the black community's involvement in the South African wine industry-including ownership opportunities for vineyards and wineries).

Major Achievers in Platter’s 2014

Winery of the Year

“The award is influenced by the results of the five star tasting,” says editor Philip van Zyl, “and this edition’s haul of four maximum ratings gives Mullineux Family Wines an astonishing 11 five stars to date, and places them firmly in the league of the greatest modern-era South African wineries. This in just seven years of operation! Warmest congratulations go to winemakers/co-owners Chris and Andrea Mullineux and the team on an exceptional achievement.”

Superquaffer of the Year

In an ongoing focus on value for money, Platter's identifies a number of entry-level wines which are exceptionally drinkable and well-priced. The best of these, like the five star candidates, go into a second round of blind tasting to select the Superquaffer of the Year. For the fourth time since Superquaffer inception in 2006, the ultra-easy sipper of the year is a chenin blanc: Boland Kelder Five Climates Chenin Blanc 2013 (Wine of Origin Paarl), praised in the guide as a “cracking crowd pleaser” and an “over-deliverer of note”.

Red Wine of the Year

Of the five star awarded wines, the red and white which receive the most votes from the judging panel are named Platter’s Wines of the Year. This time the Red Wine of the Year is Newton Johnson Windansea Pinot Noir 2012 (Wine of Origin Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley), described in the guide as “rich, fragrant, warmly sensuous”.

White Wine of the Year

The White Wine Of The Year is DeMorgenzon Maestro White 2012 (Wine of Origin Stellenbosch), a blend of chenin blanc, roussanne, viognier and chardonnay noted as “perfectly balanced for delicious current drinking or keeping”.

The Platter 5 Star Wines

In a banner year for the South African wine industry, Platter's South African Wine Guide has chosen a remarkable 80 wines to be awarded the highest honor of five stars in this 34th edition of the guide – up from 62 in the last edition.

Five star wines are exceptional bottlings which are identified by the individual tasters and then also emerge from a second round of blind tasting (without sight of the label), still with the judges’ highest rating. In this edition, three producers (Cederberg Private Cellar, Mullineux Family Wines and Nederburg Wines) garnered 4 five star ratings, one cellar (Newton Johnson Vineyards) amassed 3 five stars, and a further ten wineries (Cape Chamonix Wine Farm, DeMorgenzon, Fable Mountain Vineyards, Klein Constantia Estate, Kleine Zalze Wines, Sadie Family Wines, Stark-Condé Wines, Tokara, Reyneke Wines and KWV) each bagged 2 five stars.

Eleven wineries received five star ratings for the first time, namely Alvi's Drift Private Cellar, Chateau Naudé Wine Creation, Eikendal Vineyards, Hilton Vineyards, Opstal Estate, Raats Family Wines, Richard Kershaw Wines, Sijnn, Silverthorn Wines, Spioenkop Wines and Windmeul Cooperative Cellar. (The full list of five star wines appears below.)

Platter’s, South Africa’s original and trusted wine adviser, now also guides you through the ins and outs of locally produced brandy and “sherry”.

The new Platter’s includes descriptions and ratings of more than 60 brandies and husk spirits (“grappas”) across a broad spectrum - from ultra-exclusive Au.Ra to ubiquitous “Klippies” - together with brief profiles of distillers and brands. The leading South African sherry-style wines are also featured in the 2014 edition.

The five star wines and brandies for 2014 are:

Cabernet Franc

• Raats Family 2011

• Warwick 2010

Cabernet Sauvignon

• Boekenhoutskloof 2011

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Jean Smit, Winemaker at Boekenhoutskloof

Boekenhoutskloof – Producer of Sensational Premium Wines as well as Good Value Table Wines in Franschhoek

• Cederberg Five Generations 2011

• Ernie Els Proprietor’s 2011

• Neil Ellis Vineyard Selection 2010

• Stark-Condé Three Pines 2011


• Chateau Naudé Le Vin de François 2011

• Rijk’s Reserve 2009

• Spioenkop ‘1900’ 2012

Pinot Noir

• Newton Johnson Windansea 2012 (Red Wine of the Year)

• Newton Johnson Family Vineyards 2012


• Cederberg CWG Auction Reserve Teen die Hoog 2011

• Eagles’ Nest 2010

• Fable Syrah 2011

• Hilton The Dalmatian 2010

• Mont Destin Destiny 2009

• Mullineux Family Schist Syrah 2011

• Mullineux Family Granite Syrah 2011

• Rust en Vrede Single Vineyard Syrah 2011

In the Glass: A Rust en Vrede 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon With South African Oysters in Stellenbosch

• Stark-Condé Three Pines Syrah 2011

• Saronsberg 2011

• Sijnn 2011

Red Blends

• Bouchard Finlayson Hannibal 2011

• Chamonix Troika 2011

• Delaire Graff Botmaskop 2011

• Eikendal Classique 2011

• Ken Forrester Three Halves 2009

• Thelema Rabelais 2009

• Windmeul Reserve Cape Blend 2012


• Chamonix Reserve 2012

• Hamilton Russell 2012

Picture: Hamilton Russel Vineyards is a producer of outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines in the Hemel en Aarde (Heaven and Earth) valley, just behind the seaside resort of Hermanus in Walker Bay.

For more see:
Burgundy Wines in South Africa: Hamilton Russell Vineyards

• Newton Johnson Family Vineyards 2012

• Richard Kershaw Elgin Clonal Selection 2012

Chenin Blanc

• Alheit Radio Lazarus 2012

• Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2012

• Botanica Old Vine 2012

• DeMorgenzon Reserve 2012

• Jean Daneel Signature 2012

• Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2012

• Mullineux Family Schist 2012

• Opstal Carl Everson 2012

• Reyneke 2012

• Sadie Family Skurfberg 2012

• Stellenrust 48 Barrel Fermented 2012

Grenache Blanc

• The Foundry 2012

• AA Badenhorst Family CWG Auction Reserve White Grenache Vuilgoed 3 2012


• Simonsig CWG Auction Reserve The Russety One 2012

Sauvignon Blanc

• Cederberg David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner Wild Ferment 2012

• Klein Constantia Perdeblokke 2012

• Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2012

• Mulderbosch 1000 Miles 2012

• Tokara Walker Bay 2013


• Constantia Uitsig 2012

Picture: Constantia Uitsig Vineyard

A Day in Cape Town's Wine Cellars and Vineyards - Constantia Valley in South Africa

White Blends

• Cape Point Isliedh 2012

• Cederberg David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner Bowline 2012

• David Aristargos 2012

• DeMorgenzon Maestro White 2012 (White Wine of the Year)

• Fable Jackal Bird 2012

• Fairview Nurok 2012

• Flagstone Treaty Tree Reserve 2011

• Nederburg Ingenuity 2012

• Nitida Coronata Integration 2012

• Rall 2012

• Reyneke Reserve White 2011

• Sadie Family Palladius 2011

• Tokara Director’s Reserve 2012

Méthode Cap Classique

• Klein Constantia Brut 2010

• Silverthorn The Green Man Blanc de Blancs 2010

Dessert Wine, Fortified

• Alvi’s Drift Muscat de Frontignan White 2010

Dessert Wine Unfortified

• Delheim Edelspatz Noble Late Harvest 2012

• Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest 2012

• KWV The Mentors Noble Late Harvest 2012

• Mullineux Family Straw Wine 2012

• Nederburg Eminence 2012

• Nederburg Edelkeur 2012

• Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve Noble Late Harvest 2012


• Axe Hill Cape Vintage 2011

• De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve 2011

• KWV Cape Tawny NV


• Boplaas Potstill 20 Years Brandy

• KWV 15 Year Old Alambic

• KWV 20 Year Old

• Oude Meester Souverein

• Van Ryn 12 Year Distillers Reserve

• Van Ryn 20 Year Collectors Reserve

• Van Ryn Au.Ra

schiller-wine: Related Postings

In the Plane: Wine on South African Airways from Johannesburg to Livingstone in Zambia (Victoria Falls)

New World Wine Producer South Africa

Boekenhoutskloof – Producer of Sensational Premium Wines as well as Good Value Table Wines in Franschhoek

Lunch with Raphael Dornier in Stellenbosch

Burgundy Wines in South Africa: Hamilton Russell Vineyards

Devon Rocks - A Boutique Producer of Pinotage in South Africa

Wining, Dining and Relaxing with the Chocolate/Coffee Pinotage at Diemersfontein Wine and Country Estate in Wellington, South Africa

In the Glass: A Rust en Vrede 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon With South African Oysters in Stellenbosch

Marianne Wine Estate: South African Wine with a French Soul

Meeting Ntsiki Biyela at Stellekaya in Stellenbosch – South Africa’s Only Female and Black Winemaker with International Recognition

Wine, Art and Food: Donald Hess’ Glen Carlou Estate in South Africa

Riesling in South Africa 

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