Last night 74 tasters assembled in Cape Town and Johannesburg as Wine Cellar hosted our 2nd Luxury white taste-off. Ten of SA’s most expensive and luxurious wines were blind tasted…

Luxury white taste-off 2018

Last night 74 tasters assembled in Cape Town and Johannesburg as Wine Cellar hosted our 2nd Luxury white taste-off. Ten of SA’s most expensive and luxurious wines were blind tasted and the public tasters had to rank them from their favourite to least favourite.

The order of the wines was, of course, random and the tasters were unaware of the line-up. The results from Joburg were combined with those from Cape Town and the live announcement was made to both cities over Skype as well as on social media.

The line-up:

Three years ago, Ken Forrestor’s FMC 2012 stole the show as SA’s top luxury white. Hosting big names such as Vergelegen, Hamilton Russell, Jordan and Alheit Vineyards, the old-vine Chenin Blanc was the overwhelming winner. The average price of the wines in 2015 was R 465 per bottle.

In 2018, the average price of the line-up jumped to a whopping R 754 per bottle and most of the names from the 2015 tasting were now considered ‘too cheap’. The tasting hosted new labels such as Leeu Pessant, Delaire Graaff and Spier, all of which have released highly priced and luxurious new wines. All of SA’s most expensive wines were listed except for a few small cuvée, rare wines that Wine Cellar felt were not positioned as luxurious. This included the likes of the Sadie Family’s 800-bottle cuvée Mev. Kirsten and Richard Kershaw’s CY96 Chardonnay.

The results:

As expected, the two richest wines in the line-up, containing the largest components of new oak, were the two most-favoured wines. The FMC has a residual sugar of 8g/l which was by far the highest in the tasting.

Surprisingly, the three more elegant wines from Paul Cluver, Sadie Family and Uva Mira rounded out the top 5. The Paul Cluver showed fine Burgundian-like elegance and the Sadie Family, along with the FMC, were the only wines that have been produced for longer than 10 years.

The last four wines were arguably the lightest and most delicate wines. They showed the most savoury components and the least fruit. While all are highly regarded, perhaps they would have performed better on their own or with more time in the glass.

Similar numbers were present in each city, with the biggest difference perhaps being the composition of the crowds. While there were almost no wine trade professionals in Joburg, 30-40% of the Cape Town tasters work in the wine trade. This didn’t seem to impact the results heavily.

Johannesburg top 3:

  1. Ken Forrester, FMC Single Barrel 2014 – R 700
  2. Capensis, Chardonnay 2014 – R 950
  3. Sadie Family, Palladius 2015 – R 725

Cape Town top 3:

  1. Capensis, Chardonnay 2014 – R 950
  2. Ken Forrester, FMC Single Barrel 2014 – R 700
  3. Paul Cluver, Seven Flags Chardonnay 2016 – R 610

Overall results:

  1. Capensis, Chardonnay 2014 – R 950
  2. Ken Forrester, FMC Single Barrel 2014 – R 700
  3. Paul Cluver, Seven Flags Chardonnay 2016 – R 610

Wine Cellar will be hosting the Luxury red taste-off in the same format on the 18th of April.

Capensis Chardonnay 2014

Capensis, Chardonnay 2014 – R 950
I reviewed the maiden release of the white Western Cape Chardonnay owned by the Jackson Family in my South Africa report in 2015. The sophomore 2014 Chardonnay follows on its heels. It has a winning bouquet, maybe a little obvious but very pleasurable nonetheless, laden with subtle tropical tones, pear and (like the 2013) a touch of brioche. The oak is certainly well integrated here. The palate is not fat, but there is the weight and presence in the mouth that you seek in a Chardonnay. It maintains lovely balance, the acidity finely tuned with nectarine, paw paw and citrus lemon towards the finish. It is a strong follow-up to their debut, even if as I mentioned previously, it does not offer the minerality you might seek from a top Chardonnay, but you will be enjoying this too much to care for that. – Neal Martin, Wine Advocate, 91/100

 

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