Three locals fly high.
The finest wines airlines acquire for their passengers are only meant to service their top-paying clients.
Cattle-classers like us, have to do with whatever comes out of the dinkie drawers. And, although, for the producers from whom companies like South African Airways buys good quantities there is solid money (the annual local competition wine is well supported and run), there is seldom pleasurable surprise to match ‘chicken or beef?’. No- or low-name ‘shiraz or sauvignon? is the usual question.
Best goes to the front. Which means that international airlines can and do acquire top-end and expensive wines for business and first class. So when South African wines hit the high note in this company, it means something.
American travel magazine Global Traveller runs an annual ‘Wines on the Wing’ competition which invites all international airlines to submit wines served in the upper classes for judging. It is a pretty fierce competition, given the prestige that is supposed to accompany the cost of those tickets.
This May, the magazine brags, 28 judges tasted 134 wines submitted by 29 airlines. Given the global wine market available to those 29, South Africa did very well by scoring three winners.
Relative newcomer, Cederberg’s hotshot label-to-watch, Driehoek was rated the highest among the whites wines with its sauvignon blanc 2011, coming first in international business class for SAA. On the same list Anura merlot 2009 was the second-highest scoring red in that class.
Kudos go to the Newton Johnson Family Vineyard pinot noir 2010, which British Airways submitted and which came first among the reds for international first class.
The latter was in the company of wines such as Château Gruaud Larose 2001, and Bouchard Père et Fils Santenay 2009. The Anura was one behind Domaine Font de Michelle Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009, while the Driehoek sauvignon won the gold over Villa Huesgen riesling 2010, a ‘Les Vieux Murs’ Pouilly-Fuissé 2009, Louis Jadot Mâcon-Villages 2009, and Keenan chardonnay 2009. Not bad at all.
Despite the ordinary stuff that they hand out at the back, SAA too can be proud that it won second place in the international business class section.
The loudest applause though must go to the three local wines. Pinots noir from the Newton-Johnson family are well on their way to be among the best in the Cape, while the Du Toits’ Driehoek label, with wines by David Nieuwoudt, is aiming high with shiraz and sauvignon. Their winning wine was only the second vintage released. Watch out for 2012. Soon, meneer Du Toit says.