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  Platter's tasters for the 2024 edition

Introduced to wine at a young age, through a thimbleful of sweet muscadel with Sunday lunch, Winnie Bowman’s immersion in the fruit of the vine deepened during her student days at Stellenbosch University and later through frequent travels to international winegrowing areas, and widened to include brandy and husk spirit. A qualified physiotherapist and biomedical scientist, and holder of a PhD in Education, she is a Cape Wine Master, and regular judge at several local and international wine and spirit competitions. Winnie also loves books, opera, travel and long dinner parties.

Greg de Bruyn is an architect by day, and a wine devotee after hours. A casual interest in winetasting at a social club snowballed, leading him to qualify as a wine judge in 1996 and a Cape Wine Master in 2000. He was runner-up in Wine magazine’s inaugural New Wine Writer competition, after which he contributed regularly to that and other wine publications. In 1999, Greg settled in the Cape, first to establish a new wine estate in Hermanus, and later as a specialist consultant in winery construction. He has judged for Veritas, Diners Club Winemaker of the Year, Nederburg Auction and several magazine panels, lectured at Diploma level for the Cape Wine Academy and has been a taster for this guide since 2010.

Wine, Ndaba Dube says, found him, instead of the other way round. It was at the Vineyard Hotel in 2009, when management tapped the then resident barman to take on the role of maître ́d with a key focus on wine at the Square Restaurant, one of the first in Cape Town to emphasise fine-wine and -food pairing. Ndaba's palate, acumen, gregariousness and passion for top-notch service ensured the success of this residency, paving the way for elevation to senior restaurant manager. A sojourn as food and beverage manager at Blaauwberg Beach Hotel was followed by a move to the four-star President Hotel, where Ndaba has been F&B operations manager since 2019. He is a graduate (with distinction) of the Michael Fridjhon Wine Judging Academy, holds the WSET Level 3 diploma and currently judges mostly for Wine Magazine. He joins Platter’s team this edition as an associate taster.

Tim James, a Cape Wine Master, is an established and multiple award-winning winewriter, contributing freelance to local and international publications and websites, most frequently nowadays to but also a regular column to the London-based World of Fine Wine magazine. He is also SA consultant to the World Atlas of Wine. Tim’s book, Wines of the New South Africa: Tradition and Revolution, was published in 2013. He has been a taster (and associate editor) for this guide for many years.

It was Nomonde Kubheka's father, involved in cellar equipment manufacture, who suggested winemaking as a possible career to his recently matriculated daughter. Never exposed to wine or its production, Nomonde’s natural curiosity and appetite for a new challenge were piqued, and she enrolled in the Viticulture & Oenology programme at Stellenbosch University, graduating in 2003. The same year she joined powerhouse producer KWV as winemaker and, in 2015, the wine-industry research, development and innovation coordinating body, Winetech, as facilitator and educator. Currently she's an independent wine educator with a particular involvement with the Pinotage Youth Development Academy where she provided technical skills for its recently launched uLutsha wine brand. Nomonde has served on Wine & Spirit Board tasting panels and several wine competitions, including the International Wine & Spirit Competition and Diners Club Winemaker of the Year.

Malu Lambert fell in love with wine while working as a waiter to pay for her studies, and the allure of the vine has since drawn her into a many-sided career, notably as a writer and judge. Winner of the Veritas Young Wine Writer 2015 and Louis Roederer International Emerging Wine Writer 2019 awards, Malu contributes to numerous local titles and has written internationally on South African wine for Jancis Robinson, Club Oenologique, Decanter, Falstaff and more. She also recently co-authored a book on Klein Constantia. The avowed wine-geek is a graduate of the Michael Fridjhon Wine Judging Academy and currently enrolled in the WSET Level 4 Diploma programme. She judges on many high-profile competitions, locally and overseas, and is a panel member of Wine-of-the-Month Club. Away from wine, Malu runs Fable, a story-telling, social media and copywriting company, and occasionally helps her husband in their craft spirit distillery in Cape Town.

Wine was a hobby Angela Lloyd readily took to soon after her arrival from the UK in 1970. Encouraged by her husband, Mark, her interest bloomed into a professional career spanning a remarkable four decades. After running a wine centre in the early 1980s, she turned to freelance wine-writing and -judging, receiving innumerable commissions both locally and abroad. Travel to the world’s winelands from her Cape Town base has increased her knowledge and fascination for all types of wine. In 2022 she was honoured by the Veritas Awards as a Living Legend. This edition is her 38th as a member of Platter’s tasting team.

Following an English degree at Cambridge University, Cathy Marston fully intended to go into theatre production but travelled the world instead, gaining her both a husband and a love of wine. After working at Adnams Wine Merchants in Suffolk, UK, where she earned the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 4 Diploma, she ended up in Cape Town, owning and running The Nose Restaurant & Wine Bar for several years. Selling this in 2009 left her free to concentrate on writing, judging and, increasingly, teaching WSET courses. She went on to become the first WSET Approved Programme Provider in Africa and, in 2015, WSET Educator of the Year. Her teaching has since taken her to locations such as Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Mauritius and the Maldives. Cathy continues studying and is currently a Stage 2 Master of Wine (MW) student.

Travel is said to broaden the mind, and Fiona McDonald, former editor of Wine magazine for eight years, has had her wine mind broadened by having been a long-serving jury president of several international wine competitions: International Wine Challenge, International Wine & Spirit Competition, Concours Mondial de Bruxelles and, more recently, Decanter World Wine Awards’ regional panel chair for South Africa. Initially trained as a news journalist, she got into wine by happy accident, helping to organise The Mercury Wine Week in between reportage and newsroom management as the night news-editor on that Durban broadsheet. Currently freelancing, Fiona edits Cheers magazine, and contributes to a range of publications and websites.

The dream of a role in the movie industry as a screenwriter led Keize Mumba to leave his home in Zambia and enrol in a course at South Africa’s leading film, TV and performance school, AFDA. But in a plot twist, while working part-time at a hotel he discovered a new passion - the world of wine - and along with it ‘a pool of stories that are yearning to be told’. To better tell those tales, he left film school and immersed himself in wine studies, completing the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 3 programme. Currently he is finishing Level 4 and working as sommelier at Grub & Vine, chef Matt Manning's refined bistro restaurant on Cape Town’s trendy Bree Street. Keize is an associate taster for this guide.

Zambia-born Christine Rudman’s love affair with wine started when she joined the then Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery after a Johannesburg FMCG marketing career. Enrolling in the Cape Wine Academy, she achieved her Cape Wine Master qualification in 1986, then chaired the Institute of CWMs for nine years. She left SFW to run the CWA and, since her retirement in 2002, has been occupied with consultancy work, wine-judging, -lecturing and -writing. Christine writes on wine in Die Burger newspaper, and has published two editions of A Guide to the Winelands of the Cape. She travels widely, and has done tastings and wine training on various luxury liners. The recipient of three wine industry awards, Frans Malan Cap Classique trophy, Veritas Living Legend and, in 2022 at the Wine Harvest Commemoration Event, for Wine Appreciation and Advancement, Christine serves as judge and chair on local and international juries, and has been a taster for this guide since the 2003 edition.

Wine drew Penny Setti into its orbit while waiting on tables at an upmarket Italian restaurant in Eastern Cape province in the 2000s. The then freshly graduated Political Science major was handed a nugget of advice by the maître d, ‘You can’t sell something you don’t know’, along with a tasting glass of wine so alluring, it changed the course of her life. Now based in Cape Town, and still boundlessly passionate about the vine, Zambia-born Penny is a sommelier, consultant and owner of her own wine bar, Penny Noire, set to re-open at the time of writing after a short break. Penny is furthering her education with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 4 Diploma, has been a judge on various tasting panels, and is a prominent promoter of women in wine.

A taster for this guide for over two decades, Dave Swingler has consulted to restaurants, game lodges and convention centres, taught wine courses and contributed to radio, print and other media. He is co-author of One Hundred Wines – An Insider’s Guide to South African Wine, and drinks contributor to Posh Nosh. A long-standing member of the International Wine & Food Society and the South African consultant for its Annual Vintage Chart, Dave is currently Cellarmaster of the Cape Town branch. A psychiatrist by day, he’s intrigued by language in general, and the lexicon of wine in particular.

Cathy van Zyl became the first Master of Wine on the African continent when she passed the notoriously difficult and prestigious MW examination in 2005. Previously chair of the Institute of Masters of Wine’s education committee and a member of its Council for six years, she became chair of the IMW in September 2022. Cathy lectures and judges locally and internationally, occasionally contributes to wine journals and websites around the world, but spends most of her wine-time as associate editor of this guide. In 2019, she was named Institute of Cape Wine Masters' Personality of the Year for her passionate promotion of South African wine.

Bacchus and the Cape winelands lured Meryl Weaver away from her Gauteng legal career more than 30 years ago. She remains happily under their spell, having qualified as a Cape Wine Master and graduated with distinction from the Michael Fridjhon Wine Judging Academy. She has conducted wine presentations abroad on behalf of Wines of South Africa, lectures for the Cape Wine Academy and judges for various wine competitions. Meryl has been associated with this guide for over 20 years, initially as wine coordinator and, since 2007, copywriter and taster. Food and travel continue to inspire her, and she and husband Alex regularly venture out in their camper van to explore the many wild and beautiful places in southern Africa.