Platter 2017 launched

platterThe 2017 Platter’s South African Wine Guide was launched in Cape Town last night, at an event where all those getting five-star ratings were announced and applauded. Overwhelmingly, those accolades were for white wines: overall whites outnumbered reds  by two to one – a ratio that many (including me) believe probably well expresses the superiority of white wines in the modern Cape, though unquestionably the quality of the 2015 vintage, and perhaps the stolidity of 2014 for reds, was the immediate cause.

It was certainly the year of chardonnay and chenin blanc for Platter – the two of them together gathered as many five star ratings as all the reds put together. And looking at the list of those chenin and chardonnay high-achievers it’s difficult to suggest than there was much over-rating going on. In fact, it’s the omissions that surprise, if anything.

The 2015 vintage was, of course, much more represented this year in white wines than in reds, with all but three of the chardonnays and chenins from that year. It’s going to be most interesting to see how the reds shape up once more of them start emerging. Worth noting is that of the syrahs (the strongest red category), two of the nine were also 2015s, although there were very few serious contenders from that year compared with the number of 2014s tasted.

My own feeling is that the list of winners overall is a better one than previously – more convincing in terms of track-record and my own experience of the state of things. There are anomalies, of course, as there are bound to be when the final selection of five-star wines is done though panels blind-tasting a fairly large number. So (looking at a few well-reputed wineries), last year’s Winery of the Year, Mullineux, got only one five-star this year compared to five last year (but they did get the consolation prize of Dessert Wine of the Year – again); Boekenhoutskloof got none. On the other hand, Sadie and Chamonix each got three top ratings compared with rather dismal performances last year (one and zero respectively), and Alheit got two, having been wrongly ignored altogether last year.

If this better, more convincing result is more than a fluke (and I hope it is) it reflects the elaborate carefulness of the final big tasting, at which all the candidates for 4.5 or 5 stars were tasted blind (only variety and vintage known) by panels of three. No more than 25 wines were tasted in a flight – after which there was an enforced rest-period and then a change of pace for the palate: so, for example, the largest category, syrah, was tasted over two days by the same panel, in blocks of no more than 25 wines, and inbetween them various small white categories were tasted. I think that helped a great deal. Also, once the panellists had registered their scores for the wines, they were informed what the “home taster” of the wine (ie, the person who’d tasted it sighted, and at much greater leisure) had given it – sometimes this opinion was useful to have, as was the opinion of the two roving judges, in cases of dispute (and there were indeed some of those).

Some people will, I suspect, raise eyebrows at Nederburg being (for the second time) Winery of the Year. Not me – or not entirely at lease; they deserve acknowledgement for the number of high quality wines they make, as well as for the large range of wines at all levels. On the other hand, it is time for the award to be based on wider principles than merely winning the most five-star wines: the present system is not only unimaginative, but ridiculously penalises small wineries. In fact, Nederburg might well still have qualified if other criteria were applied. But Nederburg got four top ratings. Just behind them with three each were Chamonix and Sadie Family (both previous Wineries of the Year), as well as Kleine Zalze, David & Nadia, and Newton Johnson who would conceivably all be worthy winners of that accolade, in fact.

Here are the results.

Winery of the Year: Nederburg
Red Wine of the Year: Radford Dale Black Rock 2014
White Wine of the Year: Stellenrust 51 Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2015
|Dessert Wine of the Year: Mullineux Straw Wine 2015

All the five-star winners (excluding spirits), by variety or style:

Cabernet Franc

  • Warwick 2013

Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Delaire Graff Laurence Graff Reserve 2013
  • Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2012
  • Nederburg Private Bin R163 2013
  • Tokara Reserve 2013


  • Bosman Family Twyfeling 2015
  • Kaapzicht Skuinsberg 2015
  • Grenache Noir
  • Spice Route 2014
  • Stellenbosch Vineyards Credo Limited Release 2015


  • Laibach Claypot 2014
  • Shannon Mount Bullet 2013


  • Beeslaar 2014
  • Flagstone Time Manner Place 2014

Pinot noir

  • Hamilton Russell 2015
  • Newton Johnson Family Vineyards CWG Auction Reserve Seadragon 2015
  • Newton Johnson Family Vineyards 2015


  • Fable Syrah 2014
  • Iona Solace Syrah 2014
  • Keermont Topside Syrah 2014
  • La Motte Pierneef Syrah-Viognier 2014
  • Porseleinberg 2014
  • Reyneke Reserve Red 2014
  • Richard Kershaw Clonal Selection Elgin Syrah 2014
  • Ronnie B Sons of Sugarland Syrah 2015
  • Trizanne Reserve Syrah 2015

Red blends

  • Artisanal Boutique Winery JJ Handmade Eight Pillars 2013
  • Chamonix Troika 2014
  • Groot Constantia Gouverneurs Reserve 2013
  • Mvemve Raats MR de Compostella 2014
  • Nederburg Heritage Heroes The Brew Master 2014
  • Olifantsberg Silhouette 2014
  • Radford Dale Black Rock 2014


  • Bartinney 2015
  • Chamonix 2015
  • Chamonix Reserve 2015
  • Delaire Graff Banghoek Reserve 2015
  • DeMorgenzon Reserve 2015
  • Groot Constantia 2015
  • Hamilton Russell 2015
  • Haskell Anvil 2015
  • Iona 2015
  • Jordan Barrel Fermented 2015
  • Jordan CWG Auction Reserve 2015
  • La Vierge Apogée 2015
  • Meerlust 2015
  • Môreson Mercator Premium 2014
  • Newton Johnson Family Vineyards 2015
  • Restless River Ava Marie 2014
  • Richard Kershaw Deconstructed Lake District Bokkeveld Shales CY95 2015

Chenin Blanc

  • AA Badenhorst Dassiekop Steen 2015
  • Alheit Radio Lazarus 2015
  • Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2015
  • Bellingham Bernard Series Old Vine 2015
  • Botanica Mary Delany 2015
  • David & Nadia 2015
  • David & Nadia Hoë-Steen 2015
  • Edgebaston Camino Africa David Finlayson 2015
  • Fram 2015
  • Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2015
  • Mount Abora Koggelbos 2014
  • Opstal Carl Everson 2015
  • Ronnie B Patatsfontein Steen 2015
  • Sadie Family Skurfberg 2015
  • Spioenkop 1900 2015
  • Stellenrust 51 Barrel Fermented 2015

Sauvignon Blanc

  • Bloemendal Suider Terras 2015
  • Diemersdal 8 Rows 2016
  • Diemersdal MM Louw 2015
  • Fleur du Cap Unfiltered 2015
  • Hermanuspietersfontein Nr 5 Kat Met Die Houtbeen 2014
  • Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2015
  • Mulderbosch 1000 Miles 2015
  • Nederburg Private Bin D234 2015
  • Skaap 44 2015


  • Botanica Mary Delany 2015
  • Opstal The Barber 2015
  • Sadie Family Kokerboom 2015
  • Shannon 2015

White blends

  • Alheit Hemelrand Vine Garden 2015
  • Beaumont ‘New Baby’ 2015
  • David & Nadia Aristargos 2015
  • GlenWood Vigneron’s Selection Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc 2015
  • Sadie Family Palladius 2014
  • Thorne & Daughters Rocking Horse 2015
  • Tokara Director’s Reserve 2015
  • Vondeling Babiana 2015

Dessert wine, unfortified

  • Delheim Edelspatz Noble Late Harvest 2015
  • Donkiesbaai Hooiwijn Vin de Paille 2015
  • Fleur du Cap Bergekelder Selection Noble Late Harvest 2015
  • Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2012
  • Mullineux Straw Wine 2015
  • Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve Noble Late Harvest 2015
  • Perdeberg Speciality Natural Sweet Chenin Blanc 2014
  • Stellar Heaven on Earth Natural Sweet NV


2 thoughts on “Platter 2017 launched

  1. Agreed that these results are much better. But nothing for Kanonkop, Cape Point (nor Savage), Cluver, Rall, Vergelegen to name a few.

  2. Yes indeed, Udo. It’s an improved model of a big blind-tasting – but still with a strong component of randomness, unfortunately.

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