After many years of criticism about their quality of wines and terroir, the Franschhoek Vignerons have vindicated themselves, with Chamonix and Boekenhoutskloof named Red Wine of the Year (Cape Chamonix Reserve Pinot Noir 2010) and Winery of the Year, respectively, in the Platter’s South African Wines 2012, at The Vineyard Hotel last night. In addition, Boekenhoutskloof’s The Wolftrap White 2010 was named Superquaffer of the Year. Badsberg Badslese 2009 was named the White Wine of the Year. Nine of the 45 five-star wines are from Franschhoek this year, the highest number ever.
The Platter’s Guide, with a ‘Karoo sunshine yellow‘ cover, as described by publisher Andrew McDowall, has 620 pages, with 56 more wineries and 1000 more wines evaluated than the 2011 edition. More than 7000 wines were tasted by 15 judges, which included David Biggs, Christiaan Eedes, Michael Fridjhon, Tim James, Angela Lloyd (her 26th year of judging), Fiona McDonald, Jörg Pfützner, Christine Rudman, and Cathy van Zyl.
In its motivation for choosing Boekenhoutskloof as the Winery of the Year, Platter’s Guide wrote as follows: “For their remarkable 14 five star ratings stretching back to our 2000 edition – which featured the Syrah 1997, a stylistic window opener for the local industry and one of the most important wines of the modern South African era – and for their understated but highly influential role in placing South Africa in the international fine-fine (sic) map, we name Boekenhoutskloof our 2012 Winery of the Year. Whilst some top achievers shy away from the entry level, Boekenhoutskloof co-founder and cellarmaster Marc Kent and his partners almost from the outset embraced the popular palate, first with their Porcupine Ridge label and latterly with another exceptionally drinkable and well-priced range, The Wolftrap. The White version of this budget offering is this edition’s Superquaffer of the Year – yet another reason for us to honour and congratulate this consistently exceptional Franschhoek team”. Both Boekenhoutskloof’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah 2009 were awarded five stars in the latest Platter’s.
Badsberg is based in Rawsonville and its Badslese 2009, presented in a beautiful bottle, is described by Platter’s as ‘…outstanding elegantly presented Natural Sweet dessert from chenin. 09 great concentration & spread of flavour, from floral to spicy, huge sweetness concludes on a tangy savoury/leafy note, which is uncloying & decidely moreish. With 10% hanepoot, unwooded’. The Chamonix Pinot Noir Reserve 2010 was described as follows: “…shows savoury cedar whiffs, with bright cherry & strawberry aromas powering through tealeaf cigarbox spice. Plush tannins, sweet berry notes. Integrated 80% new French oak, natural ferment. Even more vibrant & detailed than finely managed ’09”. Gottfried Mocke is the winemaker and cellarmaster at Chamonix in Franschhoek.
Forty-five wines were selected as 5 star wines, in a blind tasting of all 5-star candidates, a methodology following continued criticism of Platter’s sighted wine evaluation from wine writers such as Neil Pendock. The full list of 2012 5-star wines, with three each for Boekenhoutskloof, Nederburg, and Mullineux Family, is as follows:
• Warwick 2008
• Bouchard Finlayson Hannibal 2010
• De Toren Fusion V 2009
• Glenelly Lady May 2009
• La Motte Pierneef Shiraz-Viognier 2009
• Meerlust Rubicon 2007
• Miles Mossop Max 2008
• Sadie Family Columella 2009
• KWV Mentors 2010
• Badsberg Badslese 2009
Dessert Wine Unfortified
• Boekenhoutskloof Noble Late Harvest 2008
• Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest 2010
• Mullineux Family Straw Wine 2010
• Nederburg Edelkeur 2010
• Nederburg Eminence 2010
• Boplaas Family Cape Vintage Reserve 2009
• De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve 2009
The 95 wines that did not make the 5-star rating after the blind-tasting were designated ‘Highly Recommended’, and include Shannon Mount Bullet 2009, Hartenberg Gravel Hill 2007, Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2010, Sadie Family Palladius 2010, Steenberg Magna Carta 2010, and Ken Forrester ‘T’ Noble Late Harvest 2009.
The Platter’s launches, of which I have only attended the last two, could do with more ‘5-star quality’, both the Vineyard Hotel and Capelands not being ideal venues, both in respect of acoustics and snacks! It was noticeable how many of the 2012 top 5-star winemakers, including Eben Sadie (Sadie Family Wines), Hein Koegelenberg (La Motte), and Bartho Eksteen (Hermanuspietersfontein) did not attend the function last night.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage