Trophy Wine Show golds

I had a chance to taste the trophy and other gold-medal winners at a formal tasting organised for the guests of the sponsors, Old Mutual (“high net worth individuals” for the most part), and presented by Michael Fridjhon, co-owner of the TWS and chair of its tasting panel. In some cases I was not as impressed as the judging panels seem to have been, but there are no real duds here (though, as I’ve said elsewhere, it would have added to the lustre of the line-up if, for example, Kanonkop Paul Sauer, Morgenster and a few others had made the cut instead of a few of these. However, for what it’s worth, here are my notes on the wines offered (the Museum class winners were not, sadly).


Anura Brut 2008
Very impressive, with bruised apple aormas and even some hints of fresh red berries – perhaps from the 42% pinot component. Quite rich, certainly creamy, but with a fine acidity. A long, long finish. 17.

Cederberg Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Showily appealing and intense, crisply green but well balanced with passionfruit. The lovely integrated acidity that marks the excellent 2009 vintage (very strange that the judges managed to come up with only this sauvignon for gold). 17

Feiteiras Verdelho 2009
I know nothing about this variety, really. A mix of semillon and sauvignon characters it seemed to me here. An almost smoky nose, with some lanolin and a liminess that echoed in the long green corridors down which the wine finally disappeared. 17

Tokara Director’s Reserve White 2008
Oh wow! Puts the previous wines in perspective. Attractive oak hints (which will integrated fully in a year or two as the wine gains more harmony). A serious elegance to this sauvignon-dominated blend (but the varieties rather irrelevant really at this point). Already some complexity; beautifully poised. 18.5

KWV The Mentors Semillon 2009
Green-grass aromas, the palate a showy mix of sweet fruit, intense power and bright acidity which might well pull together into something spectacular in a few years – but doesn’t appeal to me much now, although I can see why it would stand out in a big line-up. 16

Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Chardonnay 2009
Attractive and winning, though not exactly subtle; not one for the classicists. A good dollop of butterscotchy oak, but also plenty of fruit; creamy texture finely cut by beautifully balanced acidity. 17

Pulpit Rock Reserve Chardonnay 2008
Very oaky, and rather dull in effect. Leanish, with some concentration and length but rather unpolished. 15.5

Rijk’s Reserve Chardonnay 2007
What an impressive property Rijk’s has become, with a whole range of good wines. And this one also characterful. I found a touch of terpene-petrol on the aromas which puzzled me a bit, but the flavours much more satisfactory; with a good and almost chewy texture and well integrated oak. Drinking very nicely now. 17

Paul Cluver Chardonnay 2009
Like the Rijk’s, made without inoculated yeast, seemingly gaining character thereby. This one is just rather more authoritative and fine – but it’s a better vintage too. Clean, pure fruit, concentrated but not at all flashy, with a lively limey-citric fresh elegance. 18

Flagstone Word of Mouth Viognier 2008
An unusually elegant, subtle version, with no billowing perfume – though more overtly peachy on the palate. Fairly powerful, but a touch of steely elegance too. 17

Land of Hope Chenin Blanc 2008
Real charm on this old-vine Helderberg example from the Winery of Good Hope, something of a chenin specialist. Ripely rich but with mineral firmness, unpretentious and unforced. Delightful drinking. 17

Rijk’s Chenin Blanc with a Touch of Oak 2009
The oak touch is subtle and pleasing, mostly just adding to the open-knit textural quality. Real freshness, the element of sumptuousness lightly borne, and a great acid balance. Drinking very well already. 17.5

Klein Constantia Rhine Riesling 2009
I was a fan of the older-style KC riesling, with a little residual sugar, but I’ve now learnt to appreciate the way Adam Mason is making it now, though it demands a year or two to show at its best – and will grow for longer than that. Spicily aromatic, with a little pineapple; youthful harmony and a lovely lightness of touch. 17

Chamonix Reserve Pinot Noir 2008

Pure fruit – showing raspberry and black cherry with an earthy edge; quite elegant, with oak beautifully supporting but not dominating the real fruitiness on the long finish, and well-balanced acidity and tannin. Should benefit from a few years in bottle. Of all the splendid improvements at Chamonix under Gottfried Mocke’s regime in cellar and vineyard, the Pinot is the most dramatic. 18

Stark-Condé Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Eager blackcurrant fruit on the nose and palate, but with a herbal edge that makes it something more than just another fine internationally-styled cab, and perhaps signalling its Jonkershoek Valley origins. Impressive mix of modern and classic. Firm, ripe tannins approachable now but to get the most out of it wait a few years. 17.5

Neil Ellis Woolworths Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Reserve 2007

Rather more emphatically modern in style than the Stark-Conde, with an attractive fruitiness and serious oaking; sweet-fruited palate, very soft and silky and altogether sensuous, but built on a well-structured armature. 17.5

Kaapzicht Steytler Vision 2006As always, one isn’t surprised to see this wine coming hrough a big tasting triumphant, such is its massive, sweet intensity, from its high-toned aromas, though the rich, earthy fullness of flavour, to the firm long finish. But I would find it impossible to do more than sip in gingerly fashion at a glassful. Obviously a stylistic choice. 16.5

Lanzerac Pionier Pinotage 2007
The judges really went for the heavy style of pinotage. Here, a perfumed nose leads to an exuberance of rich, sweetly intense flavour, but nicely trimmed by a good acid structure and supple, soft tannins, with well-integrated oak influence. 17.5

Stellenzicht Golden Triangle Pinotage 2007The most difficult of the four pinotage gold medallists for me to imagine actually drinking, with its ultra-ripe and to me rather porty aromas. The fruit’s inherent sweetness butressed by the influence of American oak and more than a few grains of sugar, I suspect. 15.5

Manley Pinotage 2005
Less impressive than the other Pinotages, but more easily drinkable, allowing one to believe more in the pinot noir ancestry, though perhaps more reminiscent of Beaujolais than the pinot heartland. A little rustic in effect, and the oak making the well-controlled tannins come across a touch too drily. 16

Tokara Pinotage 2007
A most extraorodinary wine for South Africa – though it wouldn’t raise eyebrows in parts of modern Spain, where they go for just this sort of striking, showy, over-the-top excellence, with beautifully deployed ripe intensity and lots of oak. I’d been warned that I’d either love it or hate it, but in fact I did both! 17.5

Vrede en Lust Mocholate Malbec 2009
Clear coffee aromas, with spice, tobacco and good fruit all adding up to a pleasing perfume. Sweet fruit more dominant on well-textured, respectably tannic-structured palate. In fact a much more respectable wine than the name suggests, though presumably the maker would agree that it’s not really intended to be gold medal material. 15.5

Dunstone Shiraz 2008
Never think of Wellington as monolithic or write it off as a source for very good shiraz – as Boekenhoutskloof also knows. This is a very good wine, immensely drinkable already, with its fresh, almost elegant balance. There’s a touch of the herbal, shading into tealeaf, along with a subtle smokiness. Smooth, silky texture; nicely built. 18

Eagle’s Nest Shiraz 2008
A very plausible Best Red of the show. There’s a classic clarity to the non-fruity but full-flavoured aromas and flavours. Not showy, but quite forceful, with lightly-handled intensity and well-managed tannins. A return (with interest) to the charming, balanced elegance of the 2006, after a too-oaky 2007. Really good stuff. 18.5


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