Against my better judgement (which prescribes radical scepticism when it comes to suchlike big tasting competitions), I am sometimes comparatively impressed by the results of the “Six Nations Wine Challenge, insofar as I can go by the fate of wines I happen to know.
Anyway. It’s immensely impressive how well the by far smallest producer of the six (see list at end), New Zealand, consistently does. This year it was once more the top country, going by aggregated results. I was interested to know how South Africa – in fact the second-smallest of the six – had fared, given its impressive tally of trophies and medals.
So I asked Michael Fridjhon, the South African judge, and the selector (with solicited opinions from various people, including me) of the local contestants, to let me know, and he ascertained the following scores for the 2014 competition – aggregated results, derived I’m not sure exactly how, but no doubt reliably:
- New Zealand 334
- Australia 295
- South Africa 240
- USA 232
- Chile 187
- Argentina 163
Quite a spread, and clearly a good overall result for the Cape. Interestingly, Michael did point out that New Zealand does seem to have one advantage over many of the other countries (apart, arguably, from depth of quality in a number of categories). He suggests that the New Zealand judge and selector, Bob Campbell, manages to secure the cooperation of most of the country’s top producers. Clearly Michael doesn’t – absent from the South African lists are many of the producers, often small ones, whom one would ideally choose to represent the country.
Are they wrong not to enter? It would presumably land them in some expense to do so, and many are presumably unwilling, pretty justifiably, to submit their pride and joy to the sort of event which can be a lottery more than a process guaranteed to find the best. But if Michael is correct in his assessment of why New Zealand consistently does well, then perhaps they should buckle down for the sake of the country’s reputation.
On the other hand, it is not at all certain how many people pay any heed to the results, however interesting to producers and a handful of the sort of geek that reads obscure wine blogs.
- Click here for results of the competition
Here are the top nine wine-producing countries, in 2011, with production given in metric tonnes:
- Italy 6,590,750
- France 4,673,400
- Spain 3,339,700
- United States 2,211,300
- China 1,657,500
- Argentina 1,547,300
- Australia 1,133,860
- Chile 1,046,000
- South Africa 965,500
New Zealand follows in 18th place, with 189,800 metric tonnes