Tuesday, December 30, 2014

South Africa’s Top Wines - Platter´s South Africa Wine Guide 2015

Pictures: Franschhoek Valley and Cape Town

The undisputed authority in terms of South African wine is the Platter's South African Wine Guide. The 2015 Platter's South African Wine Guide was just released.

For Platters of previous years, see:
Platter’s South African Wine Guide 2014
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.

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).

Platter’s South African Wine Guide 2015

South Africa's well-known Platter's Guide announced its favorite wines for the year 2015 during an opulent evening at the Mount Nelson hotel in Cape Town on October 27th, 2014.

The guide, which was originally published from 1980 by John and Erica Platter, offers wine enthusiasts a good cross-section of available wine producers across the country, rating commendable wines using a star rating. Additionally, the guide includes awards such as the Winery of the Year, Red Wine and White Wine of the year and features 50 five star wines.

Swartland-based Sadie Family Wines is the Guide's Winery of the Year for a historic second time. The winery first took the honor in 2010 and it is the only winery to emerge from this year’s stringent judging process with three maximum five star ratings for the 2015 edition of Platter’s.

De Trafford Blueprint Syrah 2012 was named Red Wine of the Year, and DeMorgenzon Reserve Chardonnay 2013, is celebrated as the White Wine of the Year.

The 2015 guide features 50 five star wines, with nine wineries achieving five stars for the first time: Creation Wines, Crystallum, Diners Club Bartho Eksteen Academy, Fram, Iona, Oldenburg, Porseleinberg, Stellenbosch Vineyards/Flagship and Sumaridge.

The five star achievers for 2015 are:

Cabernet Franc

Warwick Estate Cabernet Franc 2011

Cabernet Sauvignon

Groot Constantia Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Le Riche Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2011
Nederburg Wines II Centuries Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Oldenburg Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Stark-Condé Wines Three Pines Cabernet Sauvignon 2012


Sadie Family Wines Pofadder 2013

Petit Verdot

Stellenbosch Vineyards Flagship Petit Verdot 2010


Flagstone Winery Time Manner Place Pinotage 2012
Kanonkop Estate Black Label Pinotage 2012

Pinot Noir

Creation Wines Reserve Pinot Noir 2013
Crystallum Cuvée Cinéma Pinot Noir 2013
Newton Johnson Vineyards Family Vineyards Pinot Noir 2013
Sumaridge Wines Pinot Noir 2012


Boekenhoutskloof Winery Syrah 2012
Boschendal Wines Cecil John Reserve Shiraz 2012
De Trafford Wines Blueprint Syrah 2012
Fable Mountain Vineyards Syrah 2012
Porseleinberg Porseleinberg 2012

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

Red Blends

Delaire Graff Estate Botmaskop 2012
Ernie Els Wines CWG Auction Reserve 2012
Hartenberg Estate The Mackenzie 2011
Thelema Mountain Vineyards Rabelais 2010
Vilafonté Series C 2011


DeMorgenzon Reserve Chardonnay 2013
Iona Vineyards Chardonnay 2013
Richard Kershaw Wines Elgin Chardonnay 2013
Sterhuis Barrel Selection Chardonnay 2012

Chenin Blanc

Alheit Vineyards Magnetic North Mountain Makstok 2013
Fram Wines Chenin Blanc 2013
Kaapzicht Wine Estate The 1947 Chenin Blanc 2013

Grenache Blanc

The Foundry Grenache Blanc 2013

Sauvignon Blanc

Buitenverwachting Husseys Vlei Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Diners Club Bartho Eksteen Academy CWG Auction Reserve Vloekskoot Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Reyneke Wines Reserve White 2013


Vergelegen Wines Reserve Semillon 2013

White Blends

Constantia Uitsig Constantia White 2013
David & Nadia Sadie Aristargos 2013
DeMorgenzon Maestro White 2013
Flagstone Winery Treaty Tree Reserve White Blend 2013
Miles Mossop Wines Saskia 2012
Oak Valley Wines Mountain Reserve White Blend 2010
Sadie Family Wines Palladius 2012
Sadie Family Wines Skerpioen 2013

Picture: Constantia Uitsig Vineyard

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

Méthode Cap Classique

Graham Beck Wines Blanc de Blancs Brut 2009

Dessert Wine, Unfortified

Delheim Wines Edelspatz Noble Late Harvest 2013
Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines Straw Wine 2013

Dessert Wine, Fortified

Nuy Wine Cellar White Muscadel 2013


Boplaas Family Vineyards Cape Tawny Vintners Reserve NV
De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve 2012


KWV 12 Year Old Barrel Select Brandy

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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