Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Best South African Wines and Winemakers - Platter’s South African Wine Guide 2016

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Ntsiki Biyela at Stellekaya in Stellenbosch – South Africa’s Only Female and Black Winemaker with International Recognition

For more, see:
Meeting Ntsiki Biyela at Stellekaya in Stellenbosch – South Africa’s Only Female and Black Winemaker with International Recognitio

The undisputed authority in terms of South African wine is the Platter's South African Wine Guide. The 2016 Platter's South African Wine Guide was just released.

For Platters of previous years, see:
South Africa’s Top Wines - Platter´s South Africa Wine Guide 2015
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. 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.

Picture: Christian Schiller at Nelson Mandela Square in Johannesburg

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.

Picture: Christian Schiller with Anthony Hamilton Russell of Hamilton Russell Vineyards

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

Platter’s South African Wine Guide 2016

The Platter’s by Diners Club South African Wine Guide 2016 was launched at Cape Town’s Mount Nelson Hotel on 29 October 2015.

The guide’s ultimate accolade, Winery of the Year, this year went to Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines. The Swartland-based winery thereby became the first to scoop the award twice within a handful of years, having been named Platter’s Winery of the Year in 2014.

Even more remarkably, both the prestigious Red Wine of the Year and new Dessert Wine of the Year awards also went to Mullineux & Leeu, for their site-specific Iron Syrah 2013 and debut solera-matured Olerasay Straw Wine NV respectively. To cap a stellar performance, the Mullineux team garnered three further five star ratings.

Stellenbosch family estate Warwick scooped the White Wine of the Year plaudit for The White Lady Chardonnay 2014.

A total of 83 five star wines, as well as three new five star brandies and one new five star husk spirit are featured in the 2016 guide. Publisher of Platter’s, Jean-Pierre Rossouw, says: “This year, all wines that were scored 4.5 stars or higher in the primary assessment went into a second round of tasting, conducted blind (without sight of the label) by small panels including experienced palates from outside the team.”

Emerging from this thorough review process with their first ever five star ratings were the following 16 producers: Anura, Beeslaar, Bloemendal, Constantia Glen, Eenzaamheid, GlenWood, Guardian Peak, Keermont, La Couronne, Leeuwenkuil, Luddite, MVH Signature Wines, Savage Wines, Vondeling, Vuurberg and Waterkloof.

Also worthy of note are 4 five star awards for Spier, and 3 five star ratings each for David & Nadia Sadie and Newton Johnson Family Vineyards.

Debuting in 1980, Platter’s by Diners Club is South Africa’s first and still leading wine annual, with total hardcover sales of well over 1.4 million copies, plus more recent digital versions for mobile and desktop devices. The 2016 edition follows the popular and award-winning Platter’s format, with more than 900 South African wine producers, merchants and brands being featured, including some 50 new ones, along with over 8,000 locally produced wines.

The guide’s wine descriptions and star ratings are compiled in association with a team of leading wine experts, and include good-value indicators and pointers to Hidden Gems – wines that are interesting, unique, unusual or otherwise worthy of wine lovers’ attention. Wine-lands dining, accommodation and cellar door tasting options are also covered in detail, along with the full spectrum of tourist amenities, attractions and activities.

The five star wines for 2016 are:

Cabernet Franc

Chamonix 2013

Cabernet Sauvignon

Delaire Graff Laurence Graff Reserve 2012
Guardian Peak Lapa 2013
Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection 2012


AA Badenhorst Ramnasgras 2014

Grenache Noir

David & Nadia Sadie 2014


Beeslaar 2013
Rijk's Reserve 2011
Spier 21 Gables 2013
Windmeul Reserve 2014

Pinot Noir

Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak 2013
Newton Johnson Family Vineyards 2014


Bellingham Bernard Series Basket Press Syrah 2013
Eagles' Nest Shiraz 2012
Leeuwenkuil Heritage Syrah 2013
Mullineux Iron Syrah 2013
Reyneke Syrah 2013
Richard Kershaw Clonal Selections Elgin Syrah 2013

Red Blends

AA Badenhorst Red 2013
Delaire Graff Botmaskop 2013
Ernie Els CWG Auction Reserve 2013
Fleur du Cap Laszlo 2012
Haskell IV 2010
Kaapzicht Steytler Vision 2012
Luddite Saboteur 2012
Meerlust Rubicon 2010
Miles Mossop Max 2012
Mulderbosch Faithful Hound 2013
Mvemve Raats MR de Compostella 2013
Nico van der Merwe Mas Nicolas Cape 2013
Savage Wines CWG Auction Reserve Follow the Line 2013
Spier CWG Auction Reserve Frans K Smit 2011
The Winery of Good Hope Radford Dale Black Rock 2013
Vondeling Erica 2012
Vuurberg Reserve 2012


Buitenverwachting 2014
Dorrance Cuvée Anaïs 2014
GlenWood Grand Duc 2013
Graham Beck Lonehill 2014
Haskell Anvil 2014
MVH Signature 2014
Newton Johnson Family Vineyards 2014
Paul Cluver Seven Flags 2014
Sterhuis Barrel Selection 2013
Sumaridge 2013
Warwick The White Lady Chardonnay 2014

Chenin Blanc

Botanica Mary Delany 2014
David & Nadia Sadie Hoë-Steen 2014
Eenzaamheid 2013
Kaapzicht The 1947 2014
Keermont Riverside 2014
Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve 2014
Mullineux Granite 2014


Bellingham Bernard Series Whole Bunch 2015

Sauvignon Blanc

Cederberg David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner 2014
Nederburg The Young Airhawk 2014
Neil Ellis Groenekloof 2015
Spier 21 Gables 2014


Constantia Uitsig 2014
Mullineux CWG Auction Reserve The Gris 2014


The Foundry 2014

White Blends

Bloemendal Kanonberg 2014
Cape Point CWG Auction Reserve White 2014
Constantia Glen Two 2014
Constantia Uitsig Natura Vista 2014
David & Nadia Sadie Aristargos 2014
Mullineux White Blend 2014
Newton Johnson Resonance 2014
Nitida Coronata Integration 2014
Oak Valley Mountain Reserve White Blend 2011
Sadie ‘T Voetpad 2014
Spier Creative Block 2 2014
Waterkloof Circle of Life White 2013

Méthode Cap Classique

Anura Brut 2011
Cederberg Blanc de Blancs Brut 2010

Dessert Wine, Unfortified

Miles Mossop Kika Noble Late Harvest 2014
Nederburg Winemaster's Reserve Noble Late Harvest 2014
Klein Constantia Vin de Constance Natural Sweet 2011
Mullineux Olerasay Straw Wine NV

Dessert Wine, Fortified

La Couronne Muscadel NV
Boplaas Heritage Reserve White Muscadel 2012


Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve 2012
De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve 2013

Brandy/Husk Spirit

Dalla Cia 10 Year Old Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot Husk Spirit
KWV 10 Year Old Vintage
KWV Nexus
Van Ryn 15 Year Fine Cask Reserve

Wines & Winery of the Year are:

White Wine of the Year: Warwick The White Lady Chardonnay 2014

Dessert Wine of the Year: Mullineux Olerasay Straw Wine NV

Red Wine of the Year: Mullineux Iron Syrah 2013

Winery of the Year: Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines

schiller-wine: Related Postings

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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

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