Navigate the maze of over 7,000 South African wines with the new Platter’s Guide 2012

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09 Nov 2011Topics: Badsberg, Boekenhoutskloof Winery, Colmant, Diemersfontein, Fable, Flagstone, Glenelly, Graham Beck Wines, Miles Mossop, Mont Destin, Mullineux Family Wines, Nederburg Wines, Oak Valley, Platter's Guide, Vilafonté, Vins d’Orrance, Warwick

With the tally of South African wines now exceeding 7,000, the uniquely comprehensive Platter’s Wine Guide 2012 is the wine lover’s indispensable “sat-nav”, showing the way through the maze of available brands and pinpointing the best quality and value.

Published since 1980, Platter’s is the original and still favourite guide to who's who and what's what in South Africa’s winelands. The 32nd edition features more than 900 South African wine producers, merchants and brands, including 58 new ones, and over 7,000 locally produced wines.

The guide’s wine descriptions and star ratings, compiled in association with a team of leading wine experts, make it easy to find the right wine for any occasion, while the good-value indicators highlight those bottlings which are especially budget friendly across all quality levels.

Published in hardcopy and a variety of digital formats, Platter’s 2012 also packs extensive information on where to go and what to do in wine country. Dining, accommodation and cellardoor tasting options are covered in detail, along with many and diverse winery amenities, attractions and activities. GPS coordinates, easy-to-use maps and quick look-up tables provide invaluable aides for visitors planning their own wineland rambles, while for those in search of a guided experience, listings of specialised wine tour operators offer a variety of alternatives.

Fully updated notes on the major winegrowing regions, grape varieties, winemaking styles, winetasting terms, and the major wine competitions and awards, as well as listings of fine-wine stockists, wine shippers and wine educators country-wide round out the wide-ranging Platter’s offering.

The theme for this edition is Thinking Out Of The Box, with (among others) the full-colour Photo Gallery and many of the entries in the A-Z Directory focusing on organisations and individuals who innovatively employ ideas, techniques and technologies in viticulture, winemaking, packaging, wine tourism, social media, conservation, sustainability, matching wine and food, and creating new wine styles.

The insightful and thought-provoking Foreword is by Zelma Long, international winemaking consultant and winemaking partner at top-rated local winery Vilafonté.

A highlight of any new edition is the five star line-up – the exceptional bottlings which emerge from a second round of tasting with the judges’ highest rating on the Platter’s scale of 0 - 5 stars (“Somewhat less than ordinary” to “Superlative. A South African classic”). This edition 45 wines made the five star cut, and, remarkably, three producers – Boekenhoutskloof, Mullineux Family and Nederburg – each garnered 3 five star ratings and one – Graham Beck Wines – followed closely with 2. Eleven wineries received five star ratings for the first time, namely Badsberg, Colmant, Diemersfontein, Fable, Flagstone, Glenelly, Miles Mossop, Mont Destin, Oak Valley, Vins d’Orrance and Warwick. (The full list of five star wines appears here.)

Of the five star awarded wines, the red and white which receive the most votes from the judging panel are named Platter’s Wines of the Year. This time the Red Wine Of The Year is Chamonix Pinot Noir Reserve 2010, described in the guide as “plush and vibrant”, whilst the White Wine Of The Year is Badsberg Badslese 2009, a Natural Sweet dessert wine made from chenin blanc and a small portion of hanepoot (muscat d’Alexandrie), and noted as “outstanding, elegantly presented and decidedly moreish”.

In an ongoing focus on value for money, Platter's identifies a number of entry-level wines which are exceptionally drinkable and well priced. The best of these, like the five star candidates, go into a second round of “blind” tasting (without sight of the label) to select the Superquaffer of the Year. For the fifth consecutive year, the ultra-easy sipper of the year is a white wine. This time it’s The Wolftrap White 2010, Boekenhoutskloof Winery’s blend of viognier, chenin blanc and grenache blanc, noted in the guide as “delicious, and great value for money”.

The names of the 11 other top quaffers appear in the new guide under the heading “Wines of the Year”, along with the 45 five stars, 95 Highly Recommended wines (which missed five stars but are nonetheless extremely fine and collectable in their own right), and 116 reds and whites showing particular potential for cellaring. These ageworthy wines appear under the banner ‘Buy Now, Drink Later’.

Platter’s prestigious Winery of the Year award is the editor’s personal selection, after considering a variety of criteria, the aim being to showcase a producer who epitomises the best of South African winegrowing today. “The award is influenced by the results of the five star tasting,” says editor Philip van Zyl, “and the fact that this year three wineries each recorded a trio of five star ratings had the potential to make the decision more difficult. However, one of the contenders distinguished itself by also producing the Superquaffer of the Year. This, coupled to a remarkable track record of 14 five star ratings stretching back to the 2000 edition, plus an understated but highly influential role in placing South Africa on the international fine-wine map, made Boekenhoutskloof the obvious choice for 2012 Winery of the Year. On behalf of the guide, I’d like to congratulate Boekenhoutskloof’s cellarmaster, Marc Kent, his partners and team on an outstanding achievement.”

Platter’s 2012 print version is available from the second half of November at selected bookstores and retailers country-wide. The recommended retail price is R159.95. The book can also be ordered online from Kalahari.com and SA Wines Online. The web-based version of the guide is now live, with the iPhone App®, in conjunction with Wine-Oh!, available for download in the next few weeks, and a version for Android smartphones, a mobi site and an e-book to follow.

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