Chairman’s Speech – L’Avenir Gala Dinner

Rootstock Session Gala Dinner Speach

In an article published in Business Day and Winemag online platforms in February this year Michael Fridjon asks the question: “Is the SA Sommelier movement losing momentum?”

Michael actually follows on with content in the article that compliments individual and industry efforts and takes a welcome and justified stab (and not for the first time) at distributorcontrolled wine lists, loss of creativity through listing fees and restaurant owners unwillingness to hand the control of their wine programs over to educated, well imbursed wine professionals; I.E. Sommeliers.

We are grateful when someone of Michael’s calibre brings our profession to his audience, and I personally thought that the article mostly had valid points.

But that question in the title line caught my (and I’m sure many others’) attention.

I believe that the answer to this question is NO

If SASA was a wine, it would be like a very young Chenin made from young vines. It’s planted in a promising site and it’s being received well by the industry, but it’s still getting used to its environment, trying to get its roots in deeper (in sometimes hostile soils), and therefore hasn’t reached its full potential.

We have achieved lots in recent years. I would like to share some of these successes:

Our SASA courses are now well established, offering mentorship and certification for sommeliers and wine stewards across 3 different levels. Two recognised academies in the form of SOMM and the Sommelier Academy are licenced to offer SASA courses to students. Made possible by funding from the NDT, the Sommelier Academy has embarked on a project to train and qualify 300 junior sommeliers over the next 3 years.

We are now a full member of the Association de La Sommelier International (ASI). This allows us to compete on the international stage and also offer internationally recognised sommelier certification in SA. I am on a sub-committee of the ASI. We are working towards establishing a regional African chapter in the ASI, and we are shortlisted to host a large ASI event in Cape Town in the nearby future.

We have recently staged 2 very successful competitions for young sommeliers working in SA. The Moët & Chandon / SASA Best Young Sommelier of South Africa (won by Wikus Human, who will compete in SA’s Best Sommelier competition this year); and the Gaggenau Sommelier Awards (won by Joakim Blackadder who is off to Beijing to compete with other winners). Both these competitions are confirmed to continue in the future.

In September this year, we will stage the Best Sommelier of South Africa competition for the second time. The winner will represent us in Antwerp next year in the world championships. Most will recall our success with Gareth Ferreira’s performance at the previous showing in 2016.

We will once again be involved at Cape Wine, including an exciting official calendar event in collaboration with the Chenin Blanc association.

We now employ 2 part time people devoted to driving SASA’s goals and tasks

A PR company to drive further awareness of the association and increase membership has been hired

We are already seeing an increase in membership, also with the help of an improved new website. Watch this space for more interactive online improvements and payment portal

And, of course, our well attended monthly tastings offer education and networking for our

growing membership base

If you had told the founding members back in 2010 when this thing started around a dinner table in Neil Grant’s house that the sommelier fraternity would have achieved all of this in 8 years, I don’t think any of us would have betted on that as an outcome. We didn’t set up for failure of course, but we just wanted to get something going as a platform.

The SASA Board members are custodians of this organisation. Not owners. Not beneficiaries. It is a member driven organisation. I am the only founding member still remaining on the board after 8 years. This shows that SASA gets in new energy and direction on a regular basis. Some of the founding members and previous board members are here tonight.

At some point they may come back to the board and at some point we will entirely hand over this custodianship to the next generation of SA sommeliers. Such is the workings of an NPO and a democratic organisation. It is a group effort.

You can all be very proud of your organisation. I certainly am.

I would like to, once again, encourage all members of all membership types to get involved, make suggestions, make yourselves available, and keep us moving forward.

Thank you to all our sponsors for tonight:

L’Avenir, Stir Food, Gavin Withers Photography, Stellies Beer, Geometric Gin, DowningsandDurr Bottling

Thank you to the wine producers for the wonderful wines sponsored for tonight:

Almenkerk, De Wetshof, Klein Constantia, KWV,Nederburg,Negrar,Vilafonte,Wine Cellar (Drappier),L’Ormarins, Bouchard Finlayson, Creation, Fable andMulderbosch

Thank you to SASA Vice-President, David Clark

Thank you to Event Organiser, Elsa Fourie

Notes to editor: SASA (or the South African Sommelier Association) is an organisation established in 2011 as a not for profit organisation with the goal to further the profession of sommeliers, set standards for excellence in the service of wine and other beverages in the South African hospitality industry, promote the professional interests of our members, and to be a platform for a fraternity of sommeliers to interact with each other and connect with international somms.

We are a membership driven organisation. We do not receive grants from government or from any other industry bodies. We do not receive any corporate sponsorships other than the membership fees for businesses, which is a fixed annual rate for all. We hold bi-annual AGM’s where we elect the executive, or board members from our membership base. The board (including the chairpersons) do not receive any remuneration for our efforts and time put in. We do invoice for services rendered when we stage events / organise competitions / teach courses. This is usually well below industry related rates.

~ Higgo Jacobs

Gaggenau South Africa Announces Sommelier Finalists

Johannesburg – Gaggenau South Africa has announced the five finalists who
will be competing in the first-ever South African Gaggenau Sommelier
Awards on 23 and 24 May in Cape Town.

After receiving CVs, and completed questionnaires, from aspiring sommeliers
from across the country, Gaggenau, in association with South African
Sommeliers Association (SASA), have selected their top five successful

The young sommeliers in the finals are Juliet Urquhart, Wikus Human, James
Mukosi, Pardon Taguzu and Joakim Hansi Blackadder.

These talented wine professionals will take part in the two-day competition,
which takes place at the Gaggenau Showroom, in the Cape Town BSH
Experience Centre. Their skills and knowledge will be pushed to the limit, in the search for the winning young sommelier.

“We are incredibly excited to host South Africa’s first Gaggenau Sommelier
Awards. A celebration of the discipline, art, passion and appreciation of wine
and wine making, this competition is an opportunity to not only promote the
skills of young sommeliers locally, but to give them the opportunity to represent South Africa on an international level,” says Elizabete Nelson, Gaggenau Communications Manager in South Africa.

The Prize

The winner of this year’s Gaggenau South Africa Sommelier competition will
automatically qualify for the International Gaggenau Sommelier Awards that will take place in Beijing, China later this year. Here, the winner will compete against multi-talented sommeliers from around the globe and show off their wine mastery and erudition.

Astute industry leaders, including Higgo Jacobs, Abigail Donnelly, Michael
Crossley and Jean-Pierre Rossouw, will panel the judging for this year’s local


Zimbabwean born James Mukosi is a self-motivated, devoted sommelier who
has been making waves in the restaurant industry in South Africa. He is
currently the Assistant Sommelier at Rust en Vrede Restaurant in Stellenbosch.




Joakim Hansi Blackadder was born and raised in Sweden, where he also
started his sommelier studies and career. He moved to South Africa in 2008 and is currently one of the Managing Partners for Somm Hospitality Enterprises in Stellenbosch.




Juliet Urquhart is currently the Beverage Manager and Sommelier at the Royal
Portfolio Silo Hotel and, since 2008, has lived out her passion at some of South Africa’s most acclaimed hotels and restaurants.





Pardon Taguzu is currently a Sommelier at Aubergine Restaurant and Auslese
Function Venue in Cape Town. He is a passionate and dedicated young
sommelier who has been honing his craft since 2015.





Wikus Human is currently living his passion as a Sommelier at David Higgs’
acclaimed Marble Restaurant in Rosebank, Johannesburg. This young
sommelier has been continuously striving to sharpen his knowledge and skills
since 2013.

Gaggenau South Africa Announces First Sommelier Awards To Take Place In May

Gaggenau South Africa announced today that it will hold its first Sommelier Awards for young professionals of the industry during May 2018.

The Prize

The winner of this year’s Gaggenau South Africa Sommelier Awards will automatically qualify for the International Gaggenau Sommelier Awards that will take place in Beijing, China during Autumn of 2018. Here, the winner will compete against multi-talented sommeliers from around the globe and show off their masteries and erudition in front of world renowned viniculturists and international press. “Gaggenau is proud to support the South African wine industry by offering young Sommeliers the opportunity to not only promote their skills locally but by also offering the winner a platform to showcase their talents and represent South Africa on an international level,” says Elizabete Nelson, Gaggenau Communications Manager South Africa.

The international Gaggenau Sommelier Awards were launched in 2014 to offer an insight into the future of wine culture, by recognising and promoting highly talented sommelier newcomers. Astute industry leaders that will panel the judging for this year’s local competition include Higgo Jacobs, Abigail Donnelly, Michael Crossley and Jean-Pierre Rossouw. Nelson further comments that, “If you want to be the best you have to be judged and mentored by the best. So, not only will contestants meet these captains of industry (the judges) during their journey, but we have also partnered with one of South Africa’s top restaurants, The Test Kitchen to host an element of the competition.”

The Process

Gaggenau in association with SASA (South African Sommeliers Association) will select five candidates to participate in the South African Gaggenau Sommelier Awards that will take place at the Gaggenau Showroom in the Cape Town BSH Experience Centre. All interested applicants between the ages of 25 and 35 can download the first-round question paper on the SASA website at and submit their completed questionnaires, current CV and portrait photo to

The application submission deadline is Friday, 23 March.

At What Age is Wine at It’s Best

Drinking Perfectly. At What Age is Wine at It’s Best: Tasting Follow Up

Tuesday 15th August

Bocca Restaurant


Diemersdal Sauvignon blanc 2015,2016,2017

Vondeling Babiana ,2010,2012,2015

Eagles nest Shiraz,2009,2012,2015

Delaire Botmanskop 2010, 2012,2015

The Idea of the tasting was to establish at what age a wine would drink optimally. Granted there are various external factors such as storage to consider. However, in broad strokes, keeping as many factors within our control equal, we would attempt to see the influence time would have on the wines and if indeed as it is often described, does wine get better with age.

The wines were all supplied and in some instances generously donated from the respective farms vinotechs. All the wines were served in the same glasses and at the same temperature.

The wines selected were all highly acclaimed and well reputed examples. Indeed, there were 5 5 star platter wines in the line-up.

The wines were poured in four flights, different vintages in each glass. The panel were aware of the wines and the various vintages in the flight, they were however unaware of which vintage was in each glass. They were tasked with righting a note, scoring them and arranging them in order, from their favourites to their least favourites. At the end of the tasting the vintages were revealed and rather surprising results ensued.

From the sauvignon flight the unanimous favourite was the 2017, followed by the 2016 and then the 2015

From the Babianna flight the unanimous favourite was the 2012, followed by the 2010 and then the 2015

From the Shiraz flight the favourite was the 2012 followed by the 2009 and the 2015. This was a slightly obscured result as the 2015 had just been bottled. Nonetheless it was a fantastic opportunity to taste the wine at such an early stage in its development. It was the general feeling by all that it will turn out to be an outstanding wine.

From the Botmanskop flight the favourite was the 2010 followed by the 2012 and the 2015

The results were very interesting, certainly the preference with sauvignon was to drink it young.

The result from the white showed that the development in the older wines was greatly appreciated, though the 2010 might have been slightly just passed its best

The result from the reds also varied, though unanimously the youngest wines scored the least. The older 2009 shiraz lost out only slightly to the still youthful 2012. Though it was a close-run thing. Would perhaps go as far as saying on a different day the results could have been reversed.

It was unanimous with the Botmanskop that it improved with age which is very much in line with conventional thinking with respect Bordeaux style wines.

The forgotten magic – Port style wines from the Cape

What isn’t to love about port? Richness and sweet alcoholic deliciousness are guilty pleasures, admittedly, but at its best it’s also marvellously complex and interesting in its various stylistic guises. The difficulty, perhaps, as with other sweet wines is where and when to serve it – the leisurely elegance of cheese, nuts and fruit at the end of a meal, accompanied by a few glasses of port (and then a taxi home if that’s not where you are) is a perfect, but rare, arrangement.

SASA’s latest tasting, hosted at Auslese on the 10th of March, saw a collection of Portuguese Ports and Cape counterparts across the major styles of the category presented by Cape Wine Master and Port guru, Boets Nel, and Higgo Jacobs. Wines ranged from current release non-vintage Ruby Ports to beautifully aged vintage Port from the early 1960’s.

Ports – and their Cape equivalents – are basically distinguished as to whether they are aged primarily in bottle (reductively) or in large casks (oxidatively). Ruby Port is in the first camp, though it’s actually not aged long at all – and is often a vintage blend, as consistency is the prime requirement, along with simple, mildly structured pleasure. So with our first pair. Calitzdorp Cellar Cape Ruby. (R45) is dark-fruity and not spirity. Rich, balanced by decent but separate acid, with a sweetish finish. It was that sweetness that mostly suggested to me it was a local version, though interestingly it had the same residual sugar as the Niepoort Ruby, from Portugal’s Douro Valley. It was the higher alcohol in the latter (20% versus 18%) that probably gave it its drier balance. My note on the Niepoort was: More complex, less pure, less simply fruity  nose. Shows more alcohol, more dry tannin. Drier finish. Integrated. A little elegance with the charm. Slightly herbal finish. As you can see, I preferred the Port, though the Calitzdopr Cape Ruby is great value.

The second pair were of the oxidatively matured style – tawny by name and tawny in colour. Much closer in quality – and price, in fact:

  • Quinta de Vallada 20 Year Old (about GBP 23 in the UK for 500 ml). Tawny with hint of amber-olive on rim. Lively fresh nose, some almond nuttiness, spice, coffee. A nice bit of spirity fire. Light, fresh feel. Fantail finish, slightly sweet. Better integrated of the two.  
  • Boplaas Cape Tawny Vintners Reserve Bin 1880. (a tiny bottling, about R250 for 375 ml). Deeper red version of tawny [reflecting its comparative youthfulness – about 10 years in cask, Amber rim. Luscious, a touch less finesse than previous, more fruity, but less obvious spirit.

Someone very reasonably suggested that these tawnies would go well with spicy food.

Then we returned to the bottle-aged style. As the name implies, Late Bottled Vintage ports are kept in barrel for longer than Vintage ports – a good few years as opposed to perhaps 18 months – in order to make them supple and drinkable sooner. LBVs are consequently a bit less opaquely black than Vintage, and a bit lighter in character too. They’re often a source of very good value, as with these.

I was very pleased when the first of the pair was revealed as Axe Hill Cape LBV 2010, as I hadn’t admired the 2009, but did like this very much. Lovely complex bouquet, with prune and liquorice, and some dark chocolate and coffee from the oak influence – which some tasters thought too obvious. Some power, density and tannic grip; fairly long finish, though not great intensity. The spicy Krohn  LBV Port (about GBP 15) was less appealing to me – a bit too easy-going for the style: softer, lighter, rounder, less tannic, a bit more acid-bony.

Then we moved onto three serious Vintage-style wines (frequently in South Africa the best add “Reserve” to the Cape Vintage designation). There were two fine examples from De Krans, a decade apart: 2007 and 1997. Good dry tannins were, of course, more prominent in the younger wine, which was also notably more complex, no doubt largely due to the greater contribution from touriga nacional – the soft, delicious and charming 1997 was mostly from tinta barroca.

I found, however, the Warres Quinta de Cavadinha Vintage Port 2002 altogether more exciting and somehow lifted, with an almost delicate prune-spice bouquet. Some sweetness, but a drier, more savoury finish than the De Krans pair, and very long-lingering. Needing longer in bottle still to attain real harmony of its components.

There were three older wines. The Rustenburg 1990 was past its best, though still alive, with a tawny rim to its mahogany colour and an almost pungent, oxidative nose. To me, unpleasingly toffee-sweet and lacking structure – very much in the older style of Cape fortifieds.

Showing much more vigour were two (very different) wines from the early 1960s. Ferreira Vintage Port 1963 (it’s a famous vintage) had a lovely subtle aroma and palate, beautifully developed but not in the least oxidised. The great joy with old port like this is the totally resolved tannic structure, almost undetectable as such, but holding everything together in its sublimely velvet grip.

The Monis Collectors Vintage Port 1961 was a special release (in 1987), and has sold for large sums at the Nederburg Auction. I don’t know how long it had been in cask versus bottle, but it actually showed more tawny character than I’d have expected – from the olive-rimmed tawny colour, to the complex aromas and flavours (menthol, liquorice, toffee, tea and much else) and the great richness of body. No hurry to drink up!

There is, of course, no greater and rarer pleasure for a winelover than fine old bottles summoning up the warmth of summers of many decades past; and few wines age as splendidly as good fortifieds. This was altogether a most memorable occasion.

SASA Member passes ASI Sommelier Certification

SASA is proud to announce that Jean-Vincent Ridon, a previous board member of the association,

has passed his ASI (Association de la Sommellerie International) Sommelier Exams with Gold merit in

Salzburg, Austria.

This makes Jean-Vincent one of 47 ASI graduate sommeliers worldwide this year, and one of only 16

achieved with distinction.

As a member organisation of ASI, SASA aims to host the ASI certification exams locally in 2018 to

allow our members in South African the opportunity to gain this accreditation here. Individuals

interested in sitting the exam can contact us on

This serves as very positive preparation for Jean-Vincent as he will also be representing South Africa

in the Best Sommelier of Europe and Africa competition coming up in May in Vienna, Austria.

Jean Vincent confirms: “I am so proud to the first sommelier in Africa to receive this international

qualification. It is now my duty to help prepare SASA candidates to achieve this Diploma, and

transfer my skill to the young upcoming generation of South African sommeliers”

SASA is a non-profit organization and aims to offer its services to local and international Sommeliers,

in being the contact and network portal for those local and international.  The association aims to

provide training and mentorships to guarantee the continuous development of professional

standards of the highest level. It will also liaise (or partner) with associations from other countries

and will therefore act as an official representative of its professional membership within South


Congratulations to the newest SASA Certified Sommeliers


One of the biggest hurdles to South African sommeliers has always been the lack of formal, attainable, internationally recognised, sommellerie accreditation in South Africa.

In an effort to address this we set out more than two years ago. Drawing on the experience of senior members in the organisation, who had been trained and accredited by various bodies around the world from France and Sweden to the USA. To create a syllabus that would test the proficiency of sommeliers by sommeliers, while simultaneously striving for international recognition.

Now after our third round of exams, we are proud to announce the first six sommeliers who have passed all three the rigorous exams and are now accredited sommeliers by the South African Sommelier Association, a recognised member of the association de la sommellerie internationale (ASI).

From left to right: Eben Bezuidenhout, Spencer Fondaumiere, Jean Vincent Ridon and Barry Scholfield. Absent: David Clark, Ralph Reynolds.


Our next round of exams will be held on the 9th of October 2017. For more information please contact


A little more about our newest Certified Sommeliers:


Barry Scholfield

Through a chance encounter with a warm summer’s day and a glass of wine, overlooking the Franschhoek Winelands Barry had an abrupt change of career and of heart that started a journey through the South African restaurant industry from high street restaurants to winelands weddings, corporate hotels and everything in between before training under Joakim Blackadder at the prestigious Rust en Vrede Restaurant. Where he worked his way through his CWA courses followed swiftly by the intermediate WSET courses and finally enrolling for the grueling WSET level 4 diploma which he is currently busy with.


David Clarke

Has been in the wine industry since 2000 and was certified as a sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers in Australia in the mid-2000s. During this time he was the wine director at Vue de Monde restaurant in Melbourne, and was executive officer of Sommeliers Australia, a national association with a database of more than 3000 members before moving to Cape Town in January 2013. David has worked in fine wine retail in London and in Melbourne. He and his wife Jeannette (also a certified sommelier) run a wine agency based in Cape Town called Ex Animo. They also export South African wine to the thirsty people of Australia.


Eben Bezuidenhoud

Eben studied viticulture and oenology at the University of Stellenbosch. After completing his Degree he went on to work as a harvest intern at various South African cellars. Understanding the need to have a global perspective on the wine industry he enrolled in the Master Vintage graduate program in France, Italy and Spain before returning to South Africa as assistant winemaker for Almenkerk. Thereafter he moved to the hospitality side of the industry as Apprentice sommelier at Singita before finally settling at Grootbos Nature Reserve as Resident Sommelier where he has since completed his WSET level 3 certification and is currently enrolled in the level 4 program.


Jean-Vincent Ridon

Is the total French wine man. He started as a sommelier in the family restaurant Le Lion d’Or before embarking to launch his own restaurant wine bar in Sancerre. While being a wine broker, wine importer and winemaker, he worked in many Michelin star restaurants before moving to South Africa in 1996. He consulted for many wineries as a winemaker and has been internationally awarded for the wines produced by his urban winery and wine bar, Signal Hill winery. Journalist and wine educator, he works as freelance sommelier for restaurant and private clients. He produces the “extreme pairing” video program for, is the author of “Passion for Pairing” book. He organises the South African Wine Tasting Championships and the National Beer Trophy, he is as well the coach of the South African Team of Wine Tasting. He was awarded Vice Best Sommelier of South Africa 2016


Ralph Reynolds

Got into wine a little later in life. Starting off as FOH and Bar manager for Charlie Crofts in Durban and Richards Bay before moving to Karibu in the Waterfront where he worked as waiter and assistant sommelier. After a brief break from the restaurant he rejoined the team in 2011 and soon worked up to sommelier, bar manager and FOH manager. Ralph is a certified Cape Sommelier through the CWA, captained the South African Tasting Team for the International Tasting Championships and is currently a sommelier at Aubergine Restaurant.


Spencer Fondaumiere

Started off training as a chef Nairobi Kenya whereafter he opened a catering company from his mother’s kitchen which he spent the next seven years building into a successful business. It was however on a trip to Cape Town, while gaining a diploma in Business Management from the University of Stellenbosch, that he fell in love with the Mother City and decided to battle home affairs for permission to stay before finally foregoing the freedom of self employment for the opportunity to work and train under Neil Grant at Burrata Restaurant. Here he gained valuable experience from a world class sommelier while completing his CWA Certificate and WSET Level 3.

Rhone VS South Africa Tasting

On the 6th of February SASA hosted the first of two tastings pitting key examples of Rhone wines against South African expressions. Focusing mainly on the Northern Rhone, with Syrah, Rousanne and Viognier, plus a little Grenache to make things interesting. Following is an amalgamation of tasting notes, taken from  our senior members, with some footnotes thrown in for the benefit of those that could not make it this time around.

SASA would just like to thank Alex Dale from The Winery of Good Hope and Christophe Durand from Dorrance Wines for supplying some of these beautiful wines. Oldenburg Vineyards for their Viognier and Rust en Vrede for, not only allowing us to take over their tasting room for an entire morning, but also putting their own wine on the spot against this lineup.


2014 Francois Villard Condrieu

This wine is clear pale lemon

The wine is clean with a pronounced flavour intensity including primary aromas of floral (lavender) stone fruit (apricots and peach) and almond pip the wine shows no secondary or tertiary characters. Developing

The wine is dry with medium well defined acidity. Slightly warming medium alcohol. It has a medium body with a medium (+) flavour intensity of peach, apricot and lavender with a little more nutty flavour coming through. The wine as a good viscosity and good texture with a medium finish.

This is a very good wine that shows purity, balance and concentration but lacks the complexity of a outstanding wines.

Can be drunk now but will benefit from up to 2 years further ageing

Grape: Viognier

Glass: Narrow tulip shaped white wine glass. Loire.

Serve: 8-10⁰C

Food : Avoid bitter elements which would accentuate the bitter phenolics and look for more aromatic dishes and maybe slightly sweeter dishes. As example, oven  roasted chicken with glazed sweet carrots.


Note: Many people confused this wine with a Muscat due to the almost grapey floral nose. It is important to note the characteristic lower acidity, even at modest ripeness of viognier and the characteristic viscous mouthfeel.

Available from Dorrance wines

2015 Oldenburg Viognier

The wine is clear medium lemon

The nose is clean with pronounced intensity aromas of stone fruit (apricot and peach), bitter almonds, with noticeably leesy aromas (cheese rind). Fully developed

The wine is dry with a low acidity, medium alcohol, medium bodied with pronounced flavours of stone fruit (apricot and peach), bitter almonds and noticeably leesy flavours (nutty). The wine has a pleasant medium length finish of stone fruit.

This is a good quality wine that shows typicity, with concentration but lacks the complexity or structure to develop off a very good wine.

Dink now


Grape: Viognier

Glass: Narrow tulip shaped white wine glass. Loire.

Serve: 8-10⁰C

Pair: Avoid bitter elements which would accentuate the bitter phenolics, as well as dishes high in acidity which would accentuate the already lacking structure and look for more aromatic dishes and maybe slightly sweeter dishes. Oven roasted chicken with glazed sweet carrots.


Note: The audience generally agreed that this is a very good value for money wine.


2015 Yves Cuilleron Saint Joseph Dique

This wine is clear medium lemon

The wine is clean with a pronounced intensity primary aromas of lemon zest, sweet spice, lavender with notes of ripe citrus (orange peel). The wine is developing

The wine is dry with a refreshing clean medium acidity, medium alcohol that is well integrated. The body is medium with a medium flavour intensity of lemon zest, sweet spice and orange peel. The wine has a medium [+] refreshing zesty slightly earthy finish.

This is a very good wine that shows typicity and length but lacks the concentration to develope the complexity of an outstanding wine.

Can be drunk now but will benefit from up to 4 of further ageing


Grape: Roussanne

Glass: Narrow tulip shaped white wine glass. Loire.

Serve: 10-12⁰C

Pair: A powerful wine that would easily stand up to lighter red meat dishes preferably where it could take advantage of that beautiful aromatics like Duck à l’orange.

Note: This wine caught out the majority of the audience, even though most got the grape variety right, almost everyone placed it in South Africa, specifically calling it a white blend of Chenin Blanc and Rousanne from the Swartland area. Although hotly debated here the first clear differences between the Rhone and South Africa started to show. Even though it is very hard to articulate there is a marked difference between the acidities of the two regions. The numbers might look the same on paper but they feel notably different on the palate.

Available from The Winery of Good Hope


2011 Gramenon La Sagesse Cotes du Rhone


This wine is clear medium ruby

The wine is not completely clean with notes of nail polish remover (VA, acetic acid). Showing medium intensity of red fruit (strawberries), black fruit (blackberries) and a herbaceous (thyme, rosemary) character. The wine is not showing any secondary character. Tertiary characters – savoury notes (game). Fully developed.

The wine is dry with medium acidity, gritty medium [-] tannin, noticeable medium [+] alcohol, medium body as well as medium flavour intensity of strawberries, blackberries, rosemary and meat. Here the wine is showing more bitter ´stemmy´ structure. The finish is a medium mouth drying  finish with very little fruit

This is a good quality wine that shows some complexity of fruit and is typical of this style but lacks the freshness of fruit, structural balance with overt stem tannin and concentration of a very good wine.

Drink now, not suitable for further aging


Grape: Grenache

Glass: Tulip shape red wine glass with narrow rim. Hermitage

Serve: 16⁰C

Pair: Rich gamey tomato based dishes. Tomato braised leg of venison.

Available from The Winery of Good Hope


2013 Domaine Jamet Cote Rotie


The wine is clear deep ruby

The wine in clean with medium [+] intensity primary aromas of concentrated dark black fruit (plum, prune), dried spice (rosemary, sage) and a floral herbaceous notes (fynbos, violet, fennel, liquorice,) as well as earthy notes (cocoa) with very well integrated secondary aromas of oak (toast, smoke) and lot of tertiary character of raw meat. The wine is developing

The wine is dry with a medium [+] acidity. It has ripe, medium [+] fruit and wood tannin and high yet very well integrated alcohol. The body is medium [+] with medium [+] intensity flavours dark black fruit (blackcurrant), black pepper, liquorice, and clove with a long mouth drying finish of dried herbs and blackberries.

This is an outstanding wine. It has structure, concentration, typicity, balance and length.

Can drink now but will benefit from up to 15 years further aging.


Grape: Syrah

Glass: Large tulip shape red wine glass. Bordeaux

Serve: 16⁰C

Pair: Rich hearty herbaceous dishes. Rosemary roasted rack of lamb with herb butter potato gratin.

Note: It must be said that this is probably the least impressive example I have personally ever tasted from this producer and it is still an absolutely outstanding wine. Although not a cheap bottle this is still great value for money in the premium wine category and a textbook example of old world Syrah at it’s absolute best.


Available from The Winery of Good Hope


2013 Rust en Vrede Single Vineyard Syrah


This wine is clear deep purple

The wine is clean with a medium [+] intensity primary aromas of ripe concentrated black and red fruit (blackberries, cassis, cherries) with a hint of white pepper and liquorice. Secondary character of toast, smoke and clove and no noticeable tertiary character. Developing.

The wine is dry with medium acidity and high alcohol. It has high levels of ripe fruit tannin and dusty grainy wood tannin that have not yet fully integrated. The wine is full bodied with pronounced flavours of cassis, cherries, a touch of white pepper and liquorice. With a long, mouth coating, finish of blackberries, white pepper and clove.

This is a very good wine. Powerful and concentrated with ample structure to integrate and develop concentration over time but lacks the balance and freshness of an outstanding wine.

Can be drunk now but will benefit from up to 8 years of further ageing.


Grape: Syrah

Glass: Large tulip shape red wine glass. Bordeaux

Serve: 16⁰C – 18⁰C

Pair: High protein or high starch dishes to balance the weight of the wine preferably braaied or smoked to take advantage of the liberal oaking and dark fruit. Flame grilled fillet of beef with buttered and smoked corn.

Note: This wine left nobody in the audience in any doubt about it’s origin. Big dark fruit

driven and highly concentrated. If the Jamet spoke of vineyards covered in snow in winter, plagued by frost in spring and battered by the Mistral in summer, then the Rust en Vrede expressed the concentration and richness of long summers days on hard granitic soil.  


2014 Yves Cuilleron Saint Joseph Les Serines


The wine is clear deep ruby

The wine is clean with medium [+] intensity aromas of blackberries, thyme, lavender and white pepper. The wine is developing

The wine is dry with mouth puckering medium [+] acidity, medium [+] dusty tight grained tannin, medium alcohol and medium body. The wine has medium [+] intensity flavours of juicy blackberries, thyme, lavender and white pepper, with a long finish.

This is a very good wine, well balanced and showing some complexity with good structure but somewhat lacking in concentration for further development.

Can be drunk now but will benefit from up to 6 years of further aging.


Grape: Syrah

Glass: Tulip shape red wine glass with narrow rim. Hermitage

Serve: 16⁰C

Pair: Rich gamey tomato based dishes. Tomato braised leg of venison.


Note: Another beautiful, textbook example of old world Syrah again sparking the debate of mouth feel and acidity. Although South African wines often attain the same numbers on paper based on TA and PH, there is a marked difference, a lightness, a mouth puckering, well integratedness about the the higher acidity in these wines that is unmistakable.


Available from The Winery of Good Hope

2014 Mullineux Syrah


The wine is clear medium ruby

The wine is clean with a medium intensity primary aromas of blueberry and violet. Secondary aromas of nutmeg, almond and rye bread. Showing hints of black pepper and vanilla. The wine is developing.

The wine is dry with medium acidity and medium [+] ripe fruit tannin, some stalky tannin and dusty wood tannin. The wine has a medium body with medium flavour intensity of blueberry, violet, vanilla, and black pepper with a medium length slightly bitter finish

This is a good wine showing some complexity and typicity but lacks the concentration, structure and freshness of a very good wine.


Grape: Syrah

Glass: Tulip shape red wine glass with narrow rim. Hermitage

Serve: 16⁰C

Pair: Sweet and savoury style venison dishes with a herbaceous element. Braaied

springbok fillet with blueberry and buchu sauce.


Note: This wine caused some differences in opinion where some, this author included, thought that this was at least a very good wine, but others felt it lacked freshness and showed to much reductivity.


2009 Hartenberg gravel hill


The wine is clear deep ruby

The wine has a lifted nose (VA, acetic acid) with medium (+) intensity primary aromas of stale cooked black fruit (blackberry, prune) and black pepper. Secondary aromas of oak (smoke, toast). Tertiary aromas of damp leather and meat. Developed

The wine is dry with medium (+) acidity medium (+) mouth drying tannin and medium (+) warm alcohol. It is a full bodied wine with a medium (+) intensity flavours of cooked blackberries and prunes. The wine has a oxidative aspect , the finish of the wine is medium (+), wood dry and lacking in freshness.

This is a good wine it has concentration  and some complexity but lacks the freshness, complexity and structure of a very good wine.

Drink now not suitable for further ageing.


Grape: Syrah

Glass: Large tulip shape red wine glass. Bordeaux

Serve: 16⁰C – 18⁰C

Pair: Rich hearty winter dishes that do not require much freshness. Black bean and braised beef stew.


Note: Considering the acclaim of both the vintage and the wine most people were very disappointed in how this wine was ageing.

Submitted by Barry Scholfield

Best Sommelier of SA 2016

A huge congratulations to the winner Gareth Ferreira and finalists, Jean-Vincent Ridon and Joakim Hansi Blackadder, as well as the other 7 contestants…you made us proud! We would like to thank everyone for their support during our first Best Sommelier of SA competition, which were held on Monday, 11th January at the Taj Cape Town. Special thanks to all our sponsors, we would have not been able to put such a successful event together without your support.

  • as our Media Partner – please see the following links for more info
  • The Taj Hotel Cape Town for hosting the event
  • Winterhalter for the glass washer
  • Liebherr for the wine fridge
  • Riedel Glassware
  • Reciprocal wines
  • The Really Great Brand Company (Veuve Clicquot)
  • 4G Wines
  • Nederburg Wines
  • Almenkerk
  • Creation
  • De Wetshof
  • Groot Constantia
  • Hamilton Russell Vineyards
  • Iona
  • Jordan
  • Journey’s End Vineyards
  • Mulderbosch
  • Oldenburg
  • Paul Cluver
  • Warwick
  • Yardstick

We would also like to state the following in order to clarify any confusion: The competition was run under the rules and regulations of the ASI (International Sommeliers Association) who own the sommelier world cup. The rule is that you may compete if you have worked in the country in the last 3 years. Gareth worked at the Saxon as a head sommelier up until 2014. Allowing him to compete. Gareth however now works with Master Sommelier, Ronan Sayburn who is the head sommelier and Gareth his assistant. Gareth was also the first South African to pass the Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced exam and therefore is more than qualified. This is also the case with the winners of the ASI competition in Spain and Poland, who both work in London. We’re excited, that for the first time a South African will competing in Argentina at the sommelier world cup.

TEAM SA in France at The World Blind Tasting Challenge

The World Blind Tasting Challenge, organised by Revue du Vin de France, was held in Chateauneuf du Pape on Saturday 17th Oct, challenging 20 national teams to identify 12 wines from 8 different wine producing countries.

With 98 points, Team South Africa secured a 12th position in the world ranking, its best achievement since their first participation to the event. Jean Vincent Ridon, the team coach is impressed by the achievement of Team 2015 considering the limited access to international wines in South Africa. Identifying wines such as the Croatian Malvasia or the Greek Assyrtiko proved to be impossible for our national champions.

Spain was crowned world champion 2015, a great success after having come last in 2013. It gives hope to the South African Team – that with hard work, everything is possible.

Captained by Ralph Reynolds, sommelier at Karibu, the SA team 2015 was composed by Veronica Plaatjies from Restaurant Mosaic, Joseph Dhafana from La Colombe and Anita Streicher-Nel from Morgenhof. They celebated their performance in style, and embarqued for a mini vinous tour de France that brought them from Chateauneuf du Pape to Burgundy’s most precious vineyards, and to Champagne’s most prestigious wineries.

The team is proudly sponsored by Spiedel Fermentegg tanks, Restaurant Mosaic,, Air France and Jacquart champagne.
Team South Africa 2015 will hope to qualify again for the next year’s World Blind Tasting Challenge that will be held in Burgundy in October 2016.
The South African Wine Tasting Championship will start selecting the candidates for the next magic team during 2016, so get your taste buds ready!

The wines served blind were:

  • Pinot noir France Champagne Bollinger Grande année 2005
  • Sauvignon New Zeland Hawke’s Bay Te Mata 2013
  • Riesling Germany Pfalz Friederich Becker Sonnenberg 2011
  • Malvasia Croatia Istria Kabola Unica Réserve 2009
  • Assyrtiko Greece Santorin Gaia Assyrtiko Wild Ferment 2014
  • Sangiovese Italy Chianti Classico Felsina Berardenga 2012
  • Mourvedre France Bandol Château Vannières 1998
  • Pinotage South Africa Franschhoek Chamonix 2012
  • Grenache France Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2007
  • Tempranillo Spain Castilla y Leon Quinta Sandoria 2006
  • Sémillon France Sauternes Château Climens 2008
  • Grenache France Maury Mas Amiel 2006

The results in order are :
Spain (140 points) , Belgium, Sweden, Andorra, France(105 points), Russia, UK, Poland, Portugal, Quebec, Finland, South Africa(98 points), China, Argentina, Luxembourg, Italy, Japan, Monaco, Switzerland, USA.Joseph,Ralph,Veronica,Jean-Vincent and Anitathe world trophy team SA at Romanee Conti