Platter 2018: the five-star wines and a bit of comment

For better or for worse, the Platter Guide is an uneasy hybrid of sighted and non-sighted tasting. The fact that the final tasting of the top-rated wines (those that the very heterogeneous panel of tasters rate higher than four stars) is done on a large scale, fairly quickly and blind does lead to some of the strange results that inevitably characterise such tastings. This remains true despite the methodology of that big final tasting being as painstakingly careful as possible (and superior to any big competition’s methodology that I know about). Of course, I am a part of the Platter tasting and editing teams, so I have an interest in all this.

Strange results, yes, a few, among the 111 five-star wines (not including brandy and husk spirit). And some splendid ones that should be singled out. Platter’s first five-star rating, I think, for an “orange wine”: Elemental Bob Retro Grenache Blanc 2016. And another grenache blanc – from The Foundry – having the glory of being White Wine of the Year, in the face of all those excellent chenins, chardonnays and blends. Incidentally, red:white honours were surprisingly close (well, surprising to someone like me who thinks Cape white generally much superior to the reds). There were 58 whites (including dessert wines) and 53 reds (including ports).

But one notices the omissions as much as the inclusions. For the first time ever, Newton Johnson’s Family Reserve Pinot didn’t come through – nor did any other NJ wines (after getting four five-star ratings last year). Sad, but that’s what happens in big tastings. And I notice that amongst the plethora of five-stars for chenins (many, though not all, of which I would happily agree with), there was none for Alheit’s (which I desperately would disagree with). No non-dessert wines from Mullineux? And we could all go on about some of our favourite wines not making the grade while others (inexplicably, of course!) go all the way. But that’s the nature of such tastings.

Good to see Bruwer Raats doing so deservedly well. Not only did he get five five-star ratings for his Raats Family Wines (Winery of the Year), but had a hand in the two for B Vintners and another for Mvemve Raats de Compostella. The (unannounced, unofficial) runners-up in terms of five-star wines were Sadie Family Wines and Richard Kershaw, each with four (but – again – not one for Sadie Columella).

Wines of the Year were:

  • Red: Nederburg Two Centuries Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
  • White: The Foundry Grenache Blanc 2015
  • Fortified: Beaumont Starboard Dessert Wine NV
  • Dessert: Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2013

The best-performing categories? I can save you some counting. There were 19 diverse red blends getting five stars (a rather disappointing and over-large list, I’d suggest); 17 chenins; 10 cabernet sauvignons; 9 diverse white blends; 9 syrahs; 8 unfortified dessert wines; surprisingly just 7 chardonnays and 6 sauvignon blancs.

THE FIVE-STAR WINES OF 2018

Cabernet Franc

  • Môreson 2015
  • Raats 2015
  • Raats Eden High Density Single Vineyard 2015

Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Bartinney 2014
  • Delaire Graff Reserve 2015
  • Edgebaston David Finlayson ‘GS’ 2014
  • Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection 2015
  • Nederburg Two Centuries 2014
  • Rust en Vrede Single Vineyard 2014
  • Rustenberg Peter Barlow 2012
  • Stark-Condé Three Pines 2015
  • The Stellenbosch Reserve Ou Hoofgebou 2015
  • Uva Mira The Mira 2015

Cinsaut

  • Sadie Pofadder 2016

Merlot

  • Shannon Mount Bullet 2014

Pinotage

  • B Vintners Liberté 2016
  • Flagstone Writer’s Block 2015
  • Lanzerac Pionier 2015
  • Neil Ellis Bottelary Hills 2015

Pinot Noir

  • Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak 2015
  • Creation The Art of Pinot Noir 2016
  • Oak Valley Groenlandberg 2016
  • Richard Kershaw Elgin Clonal Selection 2016

Shiraz/Syrah

  • Boekenhoutskloof Syrah 2015
  • Cederberg Shiraz 2015
  • De Trafford Blueprint Syrah 2015
  • Eagles’ Nest Shiraz 2014
  • Hartenberg Gravel Hill Shiraz 2013
  • Nico van der Merwe Syrah 2015
  • Remhoogte Reserve Syrah 2015
  • Richard Kershaw Elgin Clonal Selection Syrah 2015
  • Trizanne Reserve Syrah 2016

Red blends

  • Bellingham Small Barrel SMV 2014
  • Cape Wine Company Erasmus Family 2015
  • Chamonix Troika 2015
  • Eikendal Charisma 2015
  • JC Wickens Swerwer 2016
  • Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2014
  • Le Sueur Paradoks 2016
  • Lingen 2014
  • Longridge Ekliptika 2015
  • Muratie Ansela van de Caab 2013
  • Mvemve Raats MR de Compostella 2015
  • Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot Private Bin R109 2014
  • Ridgeback Signature C 2015
  • Rust en Vrede 1694 Classification 2014
  • Spier CWG Auction Reserve Frans K. Smit 2013
  • The Stellenbosch Reserve Vanderstel 2015
  • The Winery of Good Hope Radford Dale Black Rock 2015
  • Waterford The Jem 2012
  • Zorgvliet Richelle 2015

Chardonnay

  • DeMorgenzon Reserve 2016
  • Jordan Barrel Fermented 2016
  • Julien Schaal Confluence 2016
  • Paserene 2015
  • Richard Kershaw Elgin Clonal Selection 2016
  • Richard Kershaw Deconstructed Lake District Bokkeveld Shales CY95 2016
  • Warwick The White Lady 2016

Chenin Blanc

  • Alvi’s Drift Albertus Viljoen 2015
  • Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2016
  • Botanica Mary Delany 2016
  • Carinus Rooidraai 2016
  • David & Nadia Skaliekop 2016
  • David & Nadia Hoë-Steen 2016
  • Jordan Inspector Péringuey 2016
  • Kaapzicht The 1947 2016
  • Mount Abora Koggelbos 2015
  • Perdeberg Dryland Courageous Barrel Fermented 2016
  • Raats Eden High Density Single Vineyard 2015
  • Raats Old Vine 2016
  • Raats Original 2016
  • Reverie 2016
  • Sadie Skurfberg 2016
  • Stellenrust 52 Barrel Fermented 2016
  • Thistle & Weed Duwweltjie 2016

Grenache Blanc

  • Elemental Bob Retro 2016
  • The Foundry 2015

Riesling

  • Paul Cluver Close Encounter 2016

Sauvignon Blanc

  • Cederberg David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner 2016
  • Constantia Glen 2017
  • Hermanuspietersfontein Kat met die Houtbeen 2015
  • Highlands Road White Reserve 2015
  • Oak Valley Fountain of Youth 2017
  • Van Loveren Family Christina Van Loveren 2017

Semillon

  • Alheit La Colline 2016
  • Constantia Uitsig 2015
  • Shannon 2016

White Blends

  • AA Badenhorst White 2015
  • B Vintners Harlem to Hope 2016
  • Cape Point Isliedh 2016
  • Delaire Graff Reserve White 2015
  • Groot Constantia Gouverneurs Reserve White 2015
  • Olifantsberg Blanc 2016
  • Sadie Palladius 2015
  • Sadie ‘T Voetpad 2016
  • Savage White 2016

Méthode Cap Classique

  • Colmant Brut Chardonnay NV
  • Pongrácz Desiderius 2009
  • Steenberg Lady R 2012

Dessert Wine, Fortified

  • Daschbosch Hanepoot 2015
  • Orange River White Muscadel 2016

Dessert Wine, Unfortified

  • Donkiesbaai Hooiwijn Vin de Paille 2016
  • Groot Constantia Grand Constance 2014
  • Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2013
  • Miles Mossop Kika Noble Late Harvest 2016
  • Mullineux Essence Straw Wine 2012
  • Mullineux Straw Wine 2016
  • Perdeberg Dryland Longevity Natural Sweet Chenin Blanc 2016
  • Tokara Noble Late Harvest 2016

Port-style

  • Beaumont Starboard Dessert Wine NV
  • Delaire Graff Cape Vintage 2015

11 thoughts on “Platter 2018: the five-star wines and a bit of comment

  1. Congratulations, everyone, on your stars. Especially chuffed for Chris Williams of The Foundry, Craig Sheard and Elemental Bob and Jacques de klerk and Reverie.

  2. In fact Reflex – 111. And while there are some that perhaps shouldn’t strictly be there (though good wines), there are certainly others not there that definitely should be in a list of the top South African wines.

  3. All that I can humbly say, is that I am super chuffed that ‘real wine’ (orange / natural / minimal intervention / what ever one wants to call it) received a mention (thanks Tim James. Cathy van Zyl and Tim Atkin for respecting wines with soul)And on a short last note — many more exciting, sensory awakening wines to come. Keep it moving forward.

  4. Tasted your Grenache again on the night of the awards, Craig, with no regrets! I’ve also just bought a couple of bottles of each wine in your Elemental Bob range, so I’ll be reporting on more of them soon (with equal enthusiasm, I suspect).

  5. Hi Tim

    Out of interest, which wineries don’t enter Platter at all? It would be good to know. As you say, quite a few omissions. Interesting to compare and contrast with my wines of the year(available on my site for free).

    I’d also like to know how you would justify Platter’s methodology being “superior” to that of any other big competition. I’m biased, but I think the IWC would give it a run for its money!

  6. Tim A – I can’t say for sure exactly which significant wineries don’t enter Platter as a matter of policy. A minuscule proportion, but some I can think of immediately are Anthonij Rupert, Lismore, Intellego, Craven, Testalonga (which last I think you don’t rate either?). This year JH Meyer/Mother Rock didn’t submit wines (but whether that was intentional one can’t be entirely sure!). There must be others I can’t think of immediately. KWV was back this year after a grumpy absence.

    I suppose this is inevitable, though unfortunate. I think you also suffer from some boycotts? The Foundry and Meerlust, eg. It’s interesting to note, BTW, that a few of the wineries who spurned Platter because of it’s primarily sighted methodology are very happy to be rated by you or Neal Martin in the same way!

    As to why I think Platter’s big tasting methodology pretty much as good as possible: Very importantly, the panel of three tasters is supplemented not only by the “roving chairs”, but has access to the score given my the home taster – ie a person who’d tasted sighted and at greater leisure. While this score doesn’t really count, it can be very useful in prompting the panel to reconsider (in either direction).

    The biggest problems with tastings like this are, of course, tiring palates and the inevitable fact that the judgements are made rapidly. Discussion is important, and it is available to the Platter tasters, who generally consider about 10 wines at a time, and then discuss. This has the great benefit of slowing down the process a bit. I don’t think any team had much more than about 60 wines that had to be tasted over a whole day (even that’s too many in my opinion), including mandatory breaks.

    Also to combat palate tiredness, when possible (ie except for the very biggest classes), teams alternated between white and red wines.

    Those are the structural outlines of the tasting. Obviously, there’s more detail, but nothing notable, I don’t think.

    • Interesting. I suppose we’d also have to see the list of wines that were up for 5 stars but not selected. Who are the “roving chairs”, by the way? And how much power do they have? It would also be interesting to know who chaired which panel.

      I’m happy to taste blind or sighted, but prefer to do the latter for my reports. I honestly don’t think this influences my views, but I would say that, wouldn’t I?

      I’m a little surprised that there were no 5 stars from Rall, Newton Johnson, Cathy Marshall, Restless River, Beeslaar, Le Lude, Crystallum, Reyneke, Storm, Graham Beck, Gabriëlskloof, Boschkloof, Keermont and Porseleinberg, among others. You pays your money, I guess.

      And yes, true that Meerlust chose not to show me wines, which is their right. They were upset that I had only rated them as a Cru Bourgeois in my annual classification. They certainly weren’t accusing me (as some have) of “score inflation”!I’m hoping they will submit wines for my 2018 Report.

      PS You really do need to come and judge at the IWC one year.

      • Putting up a hand, I chaired the shiraz & semillon panels. If you want to know a little more detail about scoring in 5* tasting, especially for Highly Recommended, I’ll have a piece up on WOSA website later this week.
        Personally, I think there’s a case to return to the nomination for five star wines instead of all with 4.5* going into the mix. I agree with Tim (J) it’s as fair as as a big a tasting of this nature can be, but Lady Luck always has some say.

  7. Yes, Tim, I also greatly regret not seeing some of those names in the five star list (some of their wines are listed as “highly recommended”, which means they scored 94 instead of 95). But that’s what happens in all such tastings, and why I don’t like them.

    To answer your question: the roving chairs this year, also tasting blind, were Cathy van Zyl and James Pieterson. They were there partly to try to maintain a uniform standard (tasting all the wines given 95 or more), but especially to give opinions when the panel was not in agreement. Occasionally both of them would participate in discussion. Usually their vote would be taken into account, if it came to that, so really their power was that of an ad hoc member of the panel. When discussing a contentious wine, they would prime themselves by also tasting a wine or two that the panel had already agreed on at the same level.

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