Author Archives: Brett Garner

Contention for 2019 SAWi Top Honours Steaming Up

The race is extremely tight in most wine categories, with that for top MCC spot no different.

Are there any contenders that would be able to challenge Villiera’s Prestige Cuvée Monro Brut who has been on top with the best MCC in the country for two years running? Will it be from well-known stables such as Graham Beck, Simonsig and Pongrácz, or will there be some surprises from relative unknown quarters too? The current status shows only three wineries in the top 5 spots. Final positions are to be announced in May 2019. So far, only 11 wineries makes the SAWi Benchmark.

WHAT IS FINE DINING?

The term ‘Fine Dining’ brings to mind all kinds of images, from crisp white tablecloths to waiters in tuxedos. Fine dining, just as the name suggests, is a sit down restaurant which offers patrons the finest in food and wine, service, and atmosphere. One could expect a more formal atmosphere here with much more attention to detail.

To take it to the ultimate, some typical services provided in a fine dining restaurant include escorting patrons to the table, holding the chair for women, escorting patrons to the restrooms if needed, crumbing the table between courses, and replacing linen napkins if a patron leaves the table. New wine is never poured in the same glass, and silverware is replaced entirely between courses. [acknowledgement – thebalancesmb.com, defining the concept best].

Fine dining was inspired by Haute-cuisine or ‘Grande’ cuisine which refers to the cuisine of ‘high-level’ establishments, gourmet restaurants and luxury hotels. It is characterized by meticulous preparation and careful presentation of food, at a high price level. It usually reflects cooking that is done in a very skillful and complicated way. Fine dining has retained elements of this. [Wikipedia]

In addition to who was eating Haute-cuisine and what exactly it consisted of, the term can also be defined by who was making it and how they were doing so, including serving dishes in small and numerous courses which represent ‘gourmet’ dishes today. Professionally trained chefs were quintessential to the birth of haute-cuisine in France with its extravagant presentations and complex techniques. Today this is what still distinguishes fine dining.

As for wine list offerings, especially at larger establishments, these lists are deep in vintage and price points, offering everything from a lower priced wine, with others in much higher-priced categories, with a few additional rare vintage choices too. Many restaurants at this level will have a Sommelier, offering diners information about the wines and how they pair with the food.

Nouvelle-cuisine was a movement towards conceptualism and minimalism and was a direct juxtaposition to earlier haute- cuisine styles of cooking, which were much more extravagant. While menus were increasingly short, dishes used more inventive pairings and relied on inspiration from regional dishes. These lighter dishes and more modest presentations are today also the order of the day in fine dining establishments. [Wikipedia]

The above is as opposed to casual eateries, cafes or family-style restaurants that serve moderately-priced food in a casual atmosphere. Casual dining comprises such places like a, coffee house, tearoom, luncheonette, hamburger stand, fast-food joint, fast-food place, (all French), creamery, dining car, dining coach, dining saloon, diner, lunch bar, snack bar, sushi bar, rotisserie, cafeteria, barbecue and spaghetti house.

Given the above, SAWi is particularly alert to fine dining as it has evolved today into an eclectic blend of cuisines and dining concepts. While that could potentially still represent a broad range of eateries, including a chophouse, bistro or, brassiere, diner and grill-room and the like, it should clearly show an element of smartness and elegance in the restaurant outlay and the style of food and wine offering, as backed up by stellar service (thus all found in the smaller details). This then forms the basis for SAWi in its decision for inviting entries for its fine wine list awards.

And as a last thought: What has happened to some typical services provided in a fine dining restaurant including escorting patrons to the table, holding the chair for women, escorting patrons to the restrooms if needed, crumbing the table between courses, and replacing linen napkins if a patron leaves the table? New wine is never poured in the same glass, and silverware is replaced entirely between courses. [thebalancesmb.com].

BACKGROUND TO SAWi WINE LIST AWARDS

A great restaurant is one that, whatever its concept, conveys its sensibility through wine as well as food. – David Lynch

‘Most restaurant wine lists are praised and given awards for reasons that have little to do with its real purpose, as if it existed only to be admired passively, like a stamp collection. A wine list is good only when it functions well in tandem with a food menu. – Gerald Asher

“Wine to me is passion. It’s family and friends. It’s warmth of heart and generosity of spirit.
Wine is art. It’s culture. It’s the essence of civilization and the art of living.”- Robert Mondavi

Hugh Johnson, one of the world’s most respected wine writers, recognises these kinds of awards as the sommelier’s chance to shine: ‘Great chefs get stars; great wine lists get less attention’.

As Johnson alludes too, wine lists do not receive the attention that they deserve. In the SAWi World of Fine Wine it has become something of priority for all the reasons as set out about the wine list awards on this website.

Many of us when sitting down in a restaurant have the habit of first taking the wine list and scrolling over the prices depending on the wine category we fit into (as a personal behavioral attribute):
– social drinkers who normally go for the cheapest wine;
– basic wine drinkers who rather choose a label they know and also won’t spend much;
– conservative traditionalists (snobs) who normally do not know what a good wine is but, mostly targets middle-of-the-road bottles, while also being influenced by price;
– wine enthusiasts who are experimenters and adventurers who want to know what a good wine is and are keen to learn more and therefore ask questions first;
– connoisseurs going after higher end wines to impress and enjoy the experience with others.

So, what’s the problem? Well, let the penny drop. Do you allow yourself to order some other appetizing drink first until you have decided what to eat if you really want to experience how food and wine can complement each other? As it stands, it could well be argued that the majority of restaurant wine lists are of little help to let patrons discover their taste preferences of wine and as a result to exit their comfort zones and try something new. The list must satisfy all the needs for lunch or supper and celebrating events. It should obviously also fit the food menu.

Then again, the wine list may be as good as it gets but, in top establishments, should be backed up by a well-trained sommelier or wine-stewards that knows wines and could engage and provide valuable advice based on a guest’s food preferences. Once served, these experts should share more information about the particular selection (that is if patrons are interested to know). In other words, their mastery should be put to good use in engaging enough with patrons.

WINE LIST EXPERIENCES

‘See if any of this sounds familiar: You’re in a restaurant that takes wine very seriously, one where a thick, leather-bound, 25-page book arrives with great fanfare–and a thud–at the table. If you’re in a group with no discernible host, who picks it up? Ideally there’s a wine geek in the mix to take charge (fraught with its own perils, not least of which is listening to that person). Otherwise it’s a game of hot potato–one that few diners want to play anymore.

That’s tough for me to accept. I’ve spent the past decade working as a sommelier in restaurants with supersize wine lists, but I’ve come to realise that my acquisitiveness appeals to only two types of customer: the aforementioned oenophile, a guy (it’s usually a guy) who’s just as likely to bring in his own bottle as he is to order something from me, or the fellow sommelier, also usually a male nerd, whose childhood affinity for, say, baseball cards morphed into a fascination with oxidized, skin-fermented white wines from Slovenia.

But when it comes to typical drinkers, I’m under pressure to edit things down. As one friend put it: ‘I don’t come to your restaurant to read a book’. I learned the less-is-more, one-page approach to wine
lists rather than just buying anything that had been my MO for much of the previous decade. I had
to make each choice count. I was curating rather than collecting. The result reads like a menu rather than a list, which is the whole point; the idea that a great cellar must be a ‘deep’ one is on the way out.

It’s tough to downsize. Sommeliers don’t really ‘do’concise. Much as I have come to love parsing the differences among Barolos (and acquiring as many vintages and producers as possible), it’s my job to find a perfect, textbook Barolo for the person who’s never tried one. Because on any given night, I deal with greater numbers of neophytes than of fellow connoisseurs and finding wines for them is more difficult–and more satisfying–than jousting with an expert.

So, is the short list a better way to go? If you trust the restaurant, yes. My idea of a great restaurant is one that, whatever its concept, conveys its sensibility through wine as well as food. While my cork-sniffing brethren and I may hate to admit it, an encyclopaedic list doesn’t really do that. It may be a book, but it doesn’t tell a story’. – David Lynch

COMMENT ON 2018 ACHIEVEMENTS

Cape White and Red Bordeaux and Rhone Blends, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, Dessert Wines and Cape Ports again received the highest average point scores.

Shiraz shows the most wines (55) in the GWC, followed by Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Cape Bordeaux blends all in the upper forties.

The success of Cape Rhone Red Blends further adds to the stronghold for Shiraz. This blend has certainly much potential to excel further with a wide spread coming from various regions. Grenache is gaining more attention as a single cultivar wine but Malbec is still slow to follow.

Chardonnay, also called the noblest white grape variety, Succeeds in a number of styles, from un-oaked to richly oaked. It remains one of the GWC drivers while being a favourite for blending in Méthode Cap Classic sparkling wines.

Chenin Blanc had very fine performances showing interesting style differences. It shows the same versatility as a leader in blended wines too. This has become a category that are noticeably excelling.

Next to follow in terms of the success table is Cape Red Bordeaux Blends. This cross-regional blend of the Bordeaux type blend in France, acts like Cape Rhône blends, to combine different virtues into a wine which at its best, is greater than the sum of its parts is well exploited locally to be another stronghold here.

Sauvignon Blanc is the third main white wine cultivar and also part of the tradition in defining South African wines. Its
representation in the GWC is less strong than Chardonnay or Chenin Blanc, also in points averages.

However, where Sauvignon Blanc does show its metal is in White Wine Rhone Blends in combination with Semillon. This is a category which could convert more wines into the 95+ class tier.

There are other single cultivar white wines also showing up in much smaller numbers like before, including the traditional Cape Riesling and Gewürtstraminer. It is rather Semillon and Viognier that show the potential to see many more wines being ranked.

Other white wine blends combined only have two representative wines in the GWC and seems not yet to attract serious attention as this remains an all sorts category.

Up next is for bragging rights is Pinot Noir which is very terroir specific and particularly excels in the unique Hermanus and Elgin soil types. It once again showed up an exceptional performance.

The top 10 list here seems not to deviate much but for others on the brink of making the rankings almost ready to show true muscle too.

So, what is next? Well, there is no simple definition of a dessert wine but it includes many made from a grape what is called in a state of noble rot. The position of this category here could be expected given the variety of this wine style that all other countries share.

Now to turn to Cabernet Sauvignon which, along with a few other red wine cultivars, used to be in some way the traditional
backbone of the industry here. Today it still fills the biggest portion of hectares planted but happens to have half the numbers than Shiraz in the GWC.

This could partly be ascribed to the fact that like elsewhere it rather does better in red wine blends, although not really as a leading cultivar outside Bordeaux blends.

Merlot shows the same tendency as Cabernet While specifically sensitive to drought and high temperatures, it just seems not to be a meaningful contributor as a single cultivar to the success of SA’s ’fine wine’ story apart from its role in Bordeaux blends.

While Merlot contributes less than half of its production to single cultivar wines, this shouldn’t provide a negative reflection about how good some examples are.

Pinotage is the hallmark of South Africa’s own wine variety. Its vineyards are the 5th most planted grape here. It has in fact the highest average score in the GWC but only 32 wines represented or less than 7% of the GWC wines with a much smaller selection to choose from.

The general name for Cape Blends refers to Pinotage led wine examples and is perhaps the least exiting success story. This is a wine which can be preferred as a personal choice as there are indeed great examples around and the low numbers shouldn’t be merely discarded.

Méthode Cap Classic Sparkling Wines show good growth and is expected that many more will convert into the 95+. However, while there is ample activity in this category, results are bound to improve further.

The list of Cape Port represented in the GWC hasn’t changed much with the position of top contender changing regularly amongst the top three producers who each shows several examples in the GWC.

Brandies are another of the categories to be proud of. Not only does it regularly outperform others being selected as the world’s best. The strongest challenge often comes from own shores.

Media Contact: Izak Smit info@sawineindex.co.za
(cell 0825777037)

WHAT MAKES A SAWi TROPHY WINNER

SAWi presents only 4 Trophies at its annual wine awards. This is for best fine white wine and best fine red wine producers, the best fine wine producer for both white and red wines and a brandy trophy. With some way to go still, perhaps a trophy for best fine sparkling wine could be added in future. So, why are these accolades so limited and different to many other awards outcomes?

Well, the bar is set very high here, otherwise only considering a Platinum Award for having achieved 95+ on a multi-vintage performance basis for a wine and a Grand Gold Award for a similar achievement above 93 points out of 100. No wonder that a SAWi Trophy Award is the ultimate achievement in South Africa’s for wine producers.

In other words, SAWi seeks to recognise those achievers that really stand out amongst all-comers.
This comes from the fact that SAWi measures the performance of all wines annually at once, while when it comes to wine competitions, only those wines that were entered at the time are adjudicated. That is also why in the latter case annual Trophy winners changes continuously.

SAWi also strives to see wineries produce a range of fine wines and not only a once-off standout performance. That is why the SAWi ‘Algorithm of Excellence tracks performance over a multi-vintage basis. The ultimately goal is to see all reserve range kind of wines obtain points scores above 90.

In other words, whether producing 10 wines or only 3 wines, their individual wine point-scores should be in unison. The result is that this shows up the best producers from the rest.
These are without doubt the real leaders of the industry. This makes sense by looking at the SAWi Trophy winners over the years.

TROPHY WINNERS OVER THE YEARS

2010
Winery of the Year
Joint accolade for
Rijks Private Cellar Reserve Pinotage
&
Saronsberg Cellar Full Circle Shiraz Mourvedre Viognier

Wine of the Year
Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak Pinot Noir
La Motte Shiraz Viognier (runner up)

2011
Winery of the Year
Bouchard Finlayson

Red Wine of the year
Rijks Private Cellar Reserve Pinotage
Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak Pinot Noir (runner up)

White Wine of the year
Mulderbosch Vineyards Barrel Fermented Chardonnay
Hamilton Russel Chardonnay (runner up)

2012
Winery of the Year
Hamilton Russell Vineyards

Red Wine of the year
Rijks Private Cellar Reserve Pinotage
Eagles’ Nest Shiraz (runner up)

White Wine of the year
Hamilton Russell Chardonnay
Cape Point Vineyards Isliedh Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (runner up)

2013
Winery of the Year
Bouchard Finlayson

Red Wine of the year
Rijks Private Cellar Reserve Pinotage
Saronsberg Cellar Full Circle Shiraz Mourvedre Viognier (runner up)

White Wine of the year
Hamilton Russell Chardonnay
Ken Forrester The FMC Chenin Blanc (runner up)

2014
Top Wine Producer of the year
Constantia Glen

Best Red Wine Producer (top 3 wines)
Kanonkop Estate
Bouchard Finlayson (runner up)

Best White Wine Producer (top 3 wines)
De Morgenzon
Groot Constantia Estate Chardonnay (runner up)

Best Brandy
KWV 20YO Brandy
Van Ryns 12YO Brandy (runner up)

2015
Top High End Wine Producer of the Year
Saronsberg Cellar

Highest Multi Year Score Achieved for a White Wine (top 3 wines)
Jordan Wine Estate
De Morgenzon (runner up)

Highest Multi Year Score Achieved for a Red Wine (top 3 wines)
Saronsberg Cellar
Kanonkop Estate (runner up)

Highest Multi Year Score Achieved for a Brandy
Joined Accolade
KWV/Van Ryn’s/Laborie Brandies

2016
Top High End Wine Producer of the Year
Groot Constantia Estate

Highest Combined White Wine Score (top 3 wines)
Kleine Zalze Wines
De Morgenzon (runner up)

Highest Combined Red Wine Score (top 3 wines)
Saronsberg Cellar
Bouchard Finlayson (runner up)

Highest Multi Year Score Achieved for a Brandy
Van Ryns 12YO Brandy
Laborie Alambic (runner up)

2017
Top Fine Wine Producer of the Year
KWV
Kleine Zalze Wines (runner up)

Top Fine White Wine Producer of the Year (top 3 wines)
De Morgenzon (runner up)
Kleine Zalze Wines

Top Fine Red Wine Producer of the Year (top 3 wines)
Bouchard Finlayson
Kanonkop Estate (runner up)

Highest Multi Year Score Achieved for a Brandy
Laborie Alambic
KWV 20 Year Old Brandy [Runner Up]

2018
Top Wine Producer of the Year
De Morgenzon
Sadie Family Wines Signature Series
(runner up)

White Wine Producer of the Year
De Morgenzon
Hamilton Russel (runner up)

Red Wine Producer of the Year
Sadie Family Wines Signature Series
Saronsberg Cellar (runner up)

Brandy of the Year
Van Ryn’s 12 YO
Laborie Wine Farm Alambic Potstill
(runner up)

Wine Maker of the Year
Carl vd Merwe, DeMorgenzon

Viticulturist of the Year
Danie de Waal, DeMorgenzon

TO BREAK A MINDSET

Breaking the mind-set that ‘Premium quality wine only came from classical European wine nations and the odd high end Napa Valley cult winery’, was never going to be easy. Neither for South Africa nor newer entrants to the premium wine markets like Chile and Argentina.

But one of the wonderful aspects of the fine wine end of the wine trade is that to change perceptions, you don’t need advertising, call centres or mass media marketing – you merely need credible people of influence to put wine in glasses, tell the appropriate ‘authentic’ story, and importantly, benchmark top local wines in order to befriend the consumer. Fine wine after all is normally bought on recommendation… more push than pull. That is, if you know what fine wine is?

The hand sell of premium SA reds and whites was seriously difficult in the early 2000s. Success relied on tight ranges of high quality top flight wines, plentiful support from winery owners and wine makers, and total belief from the merchant selling the wines. After all, wine in South Africa is still dominated by the volume driven cheap wine class which makes up 75% of bottled wine here. Only a proportion of the balance of 25% can actually be classified as fine wine.

Therefore, it is still a challenge for South Africa’s finest icon wineries to bed down the idea in consumer’s minds that the Cape’s finest could compete with the world’s best on a daily basis. While the quality of SA’s top wines improved, the more journalist were required to sit up, take notice and talk up the more expensive premium offerings from the Cape. But, did they? Have they got their act together? No doubt, consumer scepticism still prevails as consumers here and abroad is still only connecting with the usual commodity type of wines.

Hence the role of the South African Wine Index and its ‘Grand Wines Collection’, slowly laying the foundation for consumers in the broader market to start taking fine South African wines seriously. Today the category offers the most exciting value for money premium wines in the New World. Viva Africa! Your time has finally come.

THE SOUTH AFRICAN WINE INDUSTRY ENLIGHTENED ANEW

In 2009 SAWI started out by tracking outstanding achievements in fine wine making with its multi-vintage ‘Algorithm of Excellence’. In this long arduous quest, there were no footsteps to follow, so a road was embarked on which no one has pointed to as yet, but SAWi knew that success comes from changes in the way people think. In the process SAWi followed a goal that was definite and clear.
This brought up the result after 8 years culminating in its ‘Grand Wines Collection (GWC).

Those whose wines were taken up in the GWC are the ones that fight the good fight on a daily basis. In the process, they have taken over the custodianship of esprit or guardianship of the wine industry, being the ones putting in the hard yards day by day; and the renewed focus in the industry today is due to their cleverness and sustained vigour in excelling in winemaking.

While sharing in their achievements, one notice a common spirit amongst these performers, with lots of passion, perfection and pride in what they do, inspiring enthusiasm for those that are to follow. Such passion and care is enlightening the industry anew towards a brighter future.

The SAWi concept is a disruptor in the South African wine world which influences things in the space the industry here finds itself onto new brand building opportunities. The new message is about a noble course going forward. This means that the GWC belongs to a hereditary class with high social status; showing fine personal winemaking qualities. Could this be ascribed to some sort of disruption only or is it the start of the 4th revolution in winemaking terms here in SA?

Today, the message to the world out there is that South Africa has arrived in standing their ground amongst the world’s best in fine wine making as represented in the GWC. It is time to take note.

ESSENCE OF AN INDEX

THE SAWi WINE INDEX

Anyone old enough to appreciate South African wine has an opinion on the fermented grape: there’re probably as many wine writers and awards as there are wine makers. With well over eight thousand local wines, how do one decide what to drink?
Is choice based on the number of trophy stickers the bottle bears, Google what Christian Eedes drank last night or see how many stars the Platter Guide gave it? Or just based on pot luck?

Opinions are by nature, subjective. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with subjectivity since we’re entitled to our preferences and opinions, it makes determining a reliable wine ‘standard’ difficult. National and international competitions are a starting point as these are generally blind tastings judged by a professional panel but even these have limitations: wine producers often have to pay to enter, limiting the sample size; scoring protocols differ and there’s no measure of a wine’s performance, year on year. And how on earth is the man in the wine shop meant to know which award trumps which?

Let’s illustrate by way of analogy: imagine you wish to invest your savings. Would you be comfortable buying shares based on a single reference point (i.e. company X won a gold medal in the 2010 Da Vinci Start-up Awards) or would you prefer information which tells you how company X performed over the last 5 years in relation to similar companies? The gold medal offers limited information as it relates to an isolated event in company X’s history while the latter offers greater insight into the relative performance of the company over a longer period and is thus more meaningful to your decision making process. Now the company operates within an industry with a known average index of 85 for example and X’s score is 90, you could safely conclude that this company is in the top percentile of the industry and is probably a good investment. This concept of an industry index allows the investor to determine the company’s comparative ‘value’ and forms the basis on which shares can be traded on stock markets.

So, what’s the answer in the case of wine choice?
An Index system process which:
– retrieves existing data and applies a specific formulation;
– finds precise values based on multiple criteria; and
– expresses a particular status (via a standard unit).
As such, an index is a single number, the result of a mathematical equation designed to aggregate a set of data effectively, allowing comparing like with like.
– this symbol affirms the state or condition of something in particular;
– a body of facts/information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid;
– something serving as a visible/tangible representation of a fact or a state of quality.

Indices provide us with benchmarks, their usefulness evident in our daily life: from the CPI (Consumer Price Index) to GI (Glycemic Index) to BMI (Body Mass Index) to the Dow Jones Index. What if this could be applied to the wine industry? Perhaps finding the holy grail of great wine would finally be within reach.
‘An Index of Wine Excellence…’

This is the concept behind SAWi, the South African Wine Index, a score derived from a multi-phase algorithm to help wine lovers identify consistent excellence. Such scores take into account a specific wine’s best results over multiple vintages, national and international accolades won, proven record of quality as well as trophies and Top 10 listings. In other words, only accolades above a gold medal. As such, the collective wisdom of the judging panels, authoritative reviews and the wider wine industry is distilled into a single figure that drowns out much of the subjective noise, making it easy to distinguish truly extraordinary wines.

It has become particularly clear that all those making wine are excited by the potential a reliable, recognizable standard offers the industry. With a credible index as a benchmark, the true value of South African wines can now for the first time be gauged and celebrated. Most importantly, to be rolled out to the two top market segments namely wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs.

Having built out an eight year performance record for all SA Wines, a milestone was reached which enables SAWi to announce it’s ‘Grand Wines Collection’ (GWC) in 2016. This collection represents 400 wines which made the benchmark of 93/100 over a ten year adjudication period. It culminated in a world first wine cultivar ranking list from where unique sets of combined wine lots are offered to the above target market, with SAWi answering the calls of high profile private client individuals to help them to obtain good wine and to build up their private wine cellars. The GWC will be rolled out via unique wine lot compilations. A wine club affiliation process (with mainly wine enthusiasts as members) is well underway too.

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Competition Matters | DWWA, Points and Medals

Writing on TimAtkin.com in 2014, Robert Joseph, has this fantastic introductory line to his piece What’s the point of wine competitions?:

“Wine competitions are the worst way to identify the world’s best wines.”

It’s a sentiment we hear at SAWi from time to time – although far less often now than a few years ago. Joseph goes on to apologise to Churchill before concluding his introduction by pointing out that competitions “actually work better than the alternatives.” We have to agree; but when determining SAWi scores we also consider key listings, reviews and comments from the world’s leading wine authorities.

The SAWi ‘Algorithm of Excellence’ distills the collective wisdom of a multitude of authoritative wine competitions, reviews and listings into a single point score which is consistent and drowns out much of the subjective noise of various judging panels.

One of the competitions we include is the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA).

Together with the many entrants, we’ll be keeping an eye on the DWWA 2017 Timeline, so that we can feed the results into our SAWi algorithm ahead of the 2017 Grand Wines Collection update, as well as the 2018 SAWi Wine Excellence Awards.

According to the DWWA site, “DWWA has judges from around the world, including Masters of Wine and Master Sommeliers, and many of them are the foremost experts in their field. Judging is organised into categories, initially based on region. For example, Champagne will be judged by a panel of Champagne experts.

The judges taste wines individually. They know the region, style and price bracket, but they don’t know who produced the wine or the brand name. They then compare notes on the wine and reach a consensus on each wine’s medal.

Medal categories correspond to the 100-point scoring system used by Decanter and many top wine critics around the world.”

SAWi also represents wine performance as a value out of 100, but the SAWi Index value is a unity-based normalised score that uses raw data comprised of the wine’s average score over a 10-year period, as well as additional points for consistent top performance and any additional accolades achieved.

As will be appreciated by the DWWA description above, the competition process is rigorous, and a wine that walks away with DWWA Gold Medal can truly claim to be exceptional. More so if it then receives a Platinum Medal or is crowned ‘Best in Show’.

For this reason, the Decanter World Wine Awards and its additional medal accolades carry SAWi’s full endorsement and make a sizeable impact on the SAWi wine rating methodology.

All the best to the many worthwhile South African candidates who will submit their wines over the upcoming months. We look forward to celebrating your success with you.