It is said that every bottle of wine has a tale to tell, be it of a long-held wine dream turned into reality, an ailing vineyard nursed back to health, a crumbling cellar restored to former glory, or a visitor falling under the spell of the winelands. In its latest (2013) edition, due mid-November, the nation’s original and still favourite wine adviser, Platter’s Guide, tells the stories behind South Africa’s cellars, people and brands, and thereby places the romance of wine – often missing from the picture – back into the foreground.
“Today much attention is focused on the nuts and bolts of wine, but rather less on the mystery, excitement and allure,” says Andrew McDowall, publisher of Platter’s Guide. “With our emphasis this edition on ‘backstories’, Platter’s is looking to showcase the passion, dreams, challenges and successes which not only form the backdrop to the wines featured in the guide, but also make South Africa one of the most fascinating and dynamic areas in the world of wine.
“The ‘backstories’ theme extends to the 2013 edition’s full-colour Photo Gallery, which has been re-imagined and superbly photographed by a young up-and-coming Capetonian, Teddy Sambu, mentored by local photographer and artist Athol Moult via the Imara Lightwarrior initiative. Teddy’s highly creative images cover both well-established producers like Sadie Family, Teddy Hall and Luddite, as well as newer names such as Ladera Artisan Wines, Amistad Wine Company and Osbloed Wines. The portraits are absolutely delightful, and the perfect visual expression of the ‘backstories’ idea.”
Platter’s 33rd edition, launched today (30 October 2012), features well over 900 South African wine producers, merchants and brands, including 54 new ones, and over 7,300 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 2013 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 winery amenities, attractions and activities. GPS coordinates, easy-to-use maps and quick look-up tables provide invaluable help for visitors planning their own wineland rambles, while listings of specialised wine tour operators offer a variety of alternatives for those searching for a guided experience.
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 complete the wide-ranging Platter’s offering.
The insightful and thought-provoking Foreword is by London-based Lynne Sherriff, qualified winemaker, award-winning wine consultant and Master of Wine.
A highlight of any new edition is the 5 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 a record 62 wines made the five star cut, with, remarkably, one producer (Cape Chamonix) garnering four 5 star ratings, three cellars (Fairview, Mullineux Family and Nederburg) each amassing three 5 stars, and a further six wineries (Boschendal, Fleur du Cap, Jordan, Raka, Sadie Family and Tokara) each raking in two 5 stars.
Twelve wineries received 5 star ratings for the first time, namely AA Badenhorst Family, Alheit, Bon Courage, Cederberg, Dalla Cia, David, Fryer’s Cove, Keets, Mvemve Raats, Nitida, Saronsberg and Von Ortloff. (The full list of five star wines appears below.)
Of the 5 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 Mullineux Family Syrah 2010 (Wine of Origin Swartland), described in the guide as “an icon in the making”, whilst the White Wine Of The Year is Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest 2011 (Wine of Origin Elgin), a botrytised riesling dessert wine noted as “a thing of beauty”.
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 5 star candidates, go into a second round of “blind” tasting (without sight of the label) to select the Superquaffer of the Year. For the first time since 2007, the ultra-easy sipper of the year is a red wine – Melck’s Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 by Muratie Estate (Wine of Origin Western Cape), noted in the guide as “a model of lively drinkability”, showing “a curvaceous smoothness”.
The names of the 11 other top quaffers appear in the new guide under the heading “Wines of the Year” along with the 62 five stars, 98 Highly Recommended wines (which missed five stars but are nonetheless extremely fine and collectable in their own right), and 134 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 5 star tasting,” says editor Philip van Zyl, “and Cape Chamonix’s ever-improving performance, culminating in an exceptional four maximum ratings (out of five nominations) this edition, made them the obvious choice for 2013 Winery of the Year. On behalf of the guide, I’d like to congratulate cellarmaster Gottfried Mocke, owner Chris Hellinger and the team on an outstanding achievement.”
Platter’s 2013 print version is available from the second half of November at selected bookstores and retailers country-wide. The recommended retail price is R169.95. The book can also be ordered online from Kalahari.com (www.kalahari.com) and SA Wines Online (www.sawinesonline.co.uk). The web-based version of the guide is available from today (30 October). Click here to subscribe. Apps for Apple and Android devices, in conjunction with Wine-Oh!, available for download from www.wine-oh.info in the next few weeks.
The five star wines for 2013 are:
• Raka 2009
• Von Ortloff Quintessence 2008
• Warwick 2009
• Delaire Graff Laurence Graff Reserve 2009
• Cape Chamonix Greywacke 2010
• Kanonkop 2010
• Cape Chamonix Reserve 2011
• Newton Johnson Family Vineyards 2011
• Boschendal Cecil John Reserve 2010
• Cederberg CWG Auction Reserve Teen die Hoog 2010
• Delheim Vera Cruz 2009
• Fable Bobbejaan 2010
• Fairview Jakkalsfontein 2009
• Mullineux Family Schist 2010
• Mullineux Family Syrah 2010 (Red Wine of the Year)
• Raka Biography 2010
• Saronsberg 2010
• Simonsig Merindol Syrah 2010
• Dalla Cia Wine & Spirit Company Giorgio 2007
• Fleur de Cap Lazlo 2008
• Keets First Verse 2010
• Ken Forrester The Gypsy 2009
• La Motte Pierneef Shiraz-Viognier 2010
• Mvemve Raats MR De Compostella 2009
• Nico van der Merwe Mas Nicolas Cape 2007
• Sadie Family Columella 2010
• Boschendal Reserve 2011
• Cape Chamonix Reserve 2011
• Hamilton Russell 2011
• Jordan CWG Auction Reserve 2011
• Jordan Nine Yards 2011
• Alheit Cartology 2011
• Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2011
• Botanica 2011
• DeMorgenzon Reserve 2010
• Jean Daneel Signature 2011
• KWV Cathedral Cellar 2011
• Sadie Family Skurfberg 2011
• Spice Route 2011
• Fryer’s Cove 2011
• Graham Beck Pheasant’s Run 2012
• Tokara Walker Bay 2012
• AA Badenhorst Family 2010
• Cape Chamonix Reserve 2011
• Cape Point CWG Auction Reserve 2011
• David Aristargos 2011
• Fairview Nurok 2011
• Flagstone Treaty Tree Reserve 2010
• Miles Mossop Saskia 2011
• Nederburg Ingenuity 2011
• Nederburg Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon Private Bin D252 2012
• Nitida Coronata Integration 2011
• Rall 2011
• Tokara Director’s Reserve 2011
Méthode Cap Classique
• Bon Courage Jacques Bruére Brut Reserve 2008
• Villiera Monro Brut 2007
Dessert Wine Unfortified
• Fairview La Beryl Blanc 2011
• Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest 2011
• Mullineux Family Straw Wine 2011
• Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve Noble Late Harvest 2011
• Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest 2011 (White Wine of the Year)
• De Krans The Last Cape Vintage Reserve Port 2010