Tag Archives: SAWi Wine Awards

2017 SAWi Wine Excellence Awards

The South African Wine Index (SAWi) was established in 2009 with the aim of independently identifying South Africa’s best wines. SAWi’s hope was that the collection of these best wines, or ‘South African Grand Wines’ (see Part 2), would then allow for the international promotion of the South African wine industry as a producer of high-quality wines, in contrast to its reputation at the time as a producer of cheap bulk wine.

SAWi’s unique ‘Algorithm of Excellence’ is applied to measure the performance of individual wines, across multiple vintages, and compares and condenses the results from more than 100 multinational competitions, reviews and listings, acknowledging the nature of the competition and any additional accolades bestowed on a wine, and expresses this as a single value out of 100.

Through the ongoing indexing process, it is now easy to distinguish top performing producers, and which of their wines are consistently accepted as exceptional. In addition to making the international promotion of the best South African wines possible, the Index offers consumers an opportunity to make a reliable decision about which wines to buy – without being subject to the necessary vagaries of annual wine competitions, or a vintage-specific performance.

SAWi sets two aspirational benchmarks against which to measure wine quality: Grand Gold status, which is awarded to wines that score more than 93 Index points, and Platinum status, for wines which score above 95. Together, these sets comprise the ‘South African Grand Wines Collection’.

Sourced from 585 wineries or more than 8000+ wines, the ‘Grand Wines Collection’ currently includes 400 wines, representing 187 wineries.

While SAWi indexes all South African wines as a matter of routine, SAWi members are invited to attend the annual SA Wine Index ‘Wine Excellence Awards’ at which their performance in particular is acknowledged.

The 2017 SAWi ‘Wine Excellence Awards’ were hosted, again, by Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, who accommodated guests in a number of luxurious rooms on the Grootbos property and in nearby De Kelders.

Grootbos regularly tops various international travel lists as South Africa’s leading 5-star family friendly leisure destination for the environmentally and socially conscious. SAWi is proud to be associated with Grootbos, the home of the South African Wine Index Awards and most of SAWi’s top performing wines.

SAWi is pleased to be supported by Union Pay International and the SAWi ‘Algorithm of Excellence’ is endorsed by PKF Chartered Accountants.

Neil Ellis was nominated as the latest SAWi Wine Legend, having, amongst other achievements, being first in sourcing grapes from vineyards and sites he wanted, going single-handily up against the bureaucracy ‘who was stifling everything at the time’. This was part of the revolution South African Wines were waiting for.

Neil joins other SAWi Legends, with the likes of Peter Finlayson, Jan ‘Boland’ Coetzee, Beyers Truter, Etienne le Riche and Hempies du Toit.

Overall trophy honours went to KWV, with unprecedented 15 Platinum accolades. The Trophies for best Fine White and Red Wine Producers of the year once again went to DeMorgenzon (including the highest score for a white wine produced) and Bouchard Finlayson, while the trophy for best brandy went to Laborie.

Wineries with the highest number of accolades were KWV 20 (15 Platinum); Distell 18; Cederberg and Spier 9 each; Groot Constantia and Kleine Zalze 8 each; Creation, Paul Cluver and Saronsberg 7 each; and Diemersdal and Annandale 6 each.

DeMorgenzon, Bouchard Finlayson, La Motte, Rustenberg, Vergelegen, Vriesenhof, Wildekrans and Windmeul all received five awards each. Many other wineries received multiple awards.

What is of particular importance is the consistency in multiple-vintage results for most wines mentioned here. This is paramount in wine competitions.

Comments on Achievements
No doubt that in general SAWi adds a meaningful definition as to the state of SA Wines.
The GWC in particular shows the overall best wines the country has. There is also no question that the so called ‘old guard’ still holds the very front positions.

Highlights of the latest update include the following:
• The GWC now consists of just over 400 wines.
• While Shiraz still dominates the rankings in terms of number of wines, the adjustment in the SAWi Algorithm has seen 23 wines disappearing from the list, just more than as for Sauvignon Blanc.
The only other noticeable downward movement on the ranking list was for white blends.
• The added list of wines that were ‘On the Brink’ of making the ranking list (close onto 93 points) also came down a lot but still stands at 87.
• The number of ranked wines for most of the other cultivars, not mentioned above, stayed pretty much the same on between 10 and 20 wines each.
• Shiraz has the most ranked wines namely 54, followed by Bordeaux Blends 46, Chardonnay 45, Chenin Blanc, Pinotage and Cabernet have around 30 ranked wines each.
• Pinot Noir, Rhone Blends and Dessert Wines received the highest average point scores and are at the same time also pitched at the highest individual price at the top.

While it is clear from these rankings which wines are arguably the mainstay of the industry, it is certainly also true that the local wine industry has moved on and is not what it was yesterday, given that the strong standing in the industry of some leading cultivars of the past era seems to have lost the lead and are even perhaps tenuous. The variety of wine cultivars which are excelling today is simply showing that there are almost no longer many single pinnacle wine varieties on their own in the lead any longer that dominates at the very top.

Competition Matters | Faster than Usain Bolt

My 8-year-old son is convinced that his best friend’s older brother is the second fastest man alive, after Usain Bolt. That said brother is 12, and runs a 100-metre sprint in just about enough time to allow Bolt to win his race, sign autographs and complete a press conference, is beside the point; to one adoring fan it’s only a matter of time before I hear the words “He’s faster than Usain Bolt!” and there’s a new champion atop the winner’s podium.

Until then, Usain Bolt has proved that he’s worthy of his place as the top-ranked 100-metre sprinter in the world – that despite recording only the 8th fastest time this year (tied with South African, Wayde van Niekerk, 2 places below another South African, Akani Simbine), and with everything to prove at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

“But we don’t do competitions,” was a common cry some years ago, when I asked a handful of producers about their international status – partly for some background work I was doing for an article in a local publication, and partly to interrogate the validity of the SA Wine Index, to which I had just been introduced.

The truth is every producer that puts a bottle on the table – whether mine or anyone else’s – is “doing competition”. Should the wine not be as good as that of ‘the competition’, the second bottle on the table will bear a different producer’s mark.

With social media being what it is, and the ready access we have to many sources of commentary about practically every wine sold and consumed at present (with ratings from stars to thumbs to glasses, or points out of 5 or 20 or 100) no-one can claim that they are above, or outside of, the competition circuit. They may not compete formally; but compete they do.

The SA Wine Index is unique in that it considers the multi-vintage performance of every South African wine across more than 100 national and international competitions, ratings, listings and reviews. The majority of these are listed on the sawineindex.com website, and any new and noteworthy platform that serves to make a statement about a wine’s performance or value is considered by the Index.

The Index aggregates the wine’s various multi-vintage performances, using a complex but not complicated algorithm that weights the various competitions and rewards best in class performances as well as consistency over a rolling 10-year window. The result is a single point score that definitively separates the athletes from the older brothers, and which provides a reliable measure of the true class of the wine.

And while The Olympic Games stands ahead of other competitions when it comes to any self-respecting athlete proving his or her worth, it’s not the only measure. Rather, while coveting an Olympic medal, athletes look to the IAAF rankings to properly indicate where they stand. In the same way, the SA Wine Index leads the wine world in its ability to definitively identify South Africa’s finest wines.

The 2016 SAWi Awards take place on 18 June 2016, when the South African Wine Index celebrates the exceptional performances of the county’s finest wines, and releases the South African ‘Grand Wines Collection’ ranking of South Africa’s top performing wines

@SAWineIndex | 2016 SAWi Wine Excellence Awards | 18 June 2016 | Grootbos Private Nature Reserve | @Grootbos

SA’s best MCC? Mum’s the word, for now…

On 18 June 2016, the 2016 SAWi Wine Excellence Awards, at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, will reveal which are South Africa’s consistently best performing MMCs.

Writing for BDLive, 6 May, Sue Blain quotes, among others, Peter Short, wine manager at Norman Goodfellows in Illovo, Johannesburg. According to Short there are “around 80 different French Champagne brands in the Norman Goodfellows stock range, and around 100 MCC or SA sparking wines”. Of the local bubblies, 20-odd have achieved a SAWi rating of 93+, allowing them to bear the coveted SAWi ‘Grand Wines Collection‘ label. In a first of its kind, and in the Methode Cap Classique sector, this full list will be unveiled on 18 June.

@SAWineIndex | 2016 SAWi Wine Excellence Awards | 18 June 2016 | Grootbos Private Nature Reserve | @Grootbos

Terroir: Terrible or Terrific?

The SA Wine Index has, for many years, supported the notion that South African terroir is both a legitimate concept and significant in the production of consistently noteworthy South African wines.

While some will pooh-pooh the very notion of terroir, we were pleased to see that James Lawrence, writing recently on Wine-Searcher.com, doesn’t. His article headline “South African Wine’s U-Turn on Terroir” is rather wishful, but we hope it’s prophetic, nonetheless.

Photo by Dominic Morel

The soon-to-be-released SA Wine Index 2016 results will make interesting reading for those into terroir. For the first time ever, SAWi will release the full list of South African wines to achieve SAWi Grand Wine status – an accolade bestowed on wines that have achieved an Index score of 93+, when considering non-vintage specific performance over at least three vintages, in more than 100 local and international competitions, ratings and reviews.

The list itself is sure to generate much interest, but it’s the underlying performance of certain styles and cultivars in certain regions that will get the aficionados reaching for their notebooks.

Don’t miss the breaking news on 18 June 2016; follow us and the awards hosts, Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, on Twitter, or like SAWineIndex on FaceBook to stay up to date.

@SAWineIndex | 2016 SAWi Wine Excellence Awards | 18 June 2016 | Grootbos Private Nature Reserve | @Grootbos

No Colour-blind Tongue

The soon-to-be-released SA Wine Index 2016 results will show, for the next year at least, that while the Rainbow Nation is keen to move past issues of colour, wine judges the world over certainly can’t hide their collective South African wine colour preference.

There can be only one most highly ranked wine, and given SAWi’s multi-national, multi-vintage index mechanism, that now includes more than 100 local and international competitions, ratings and reviews, only SAWi can definitively say which wine that is. More importantly, only SAWi can say which South African wines perform consistently well, time and time again.

Want to know which colour is best? The 2016 SAWi Wine Excellence Awards take place at the acclaimed Grootbos Private Nature Reserve on 18 June 2016; stay close to Twitter for all the results. @SAWineIndex @Grootbos

Why A ‘South African Grand Wines Collection’?

We’ve had a few SAWi followers ask about the motivation for SAWi to compile the SA Grand Wines Collection… Here it is:

The ‘South African Grand Wines Collection’ stands as an independent brand, with SAWi only taking the initiative to bolster the perceptions about the country’s top wines. The brand will be marketed directly and exposed to high profile individuals, influencers and connoisseurs.

Rather than being selected by a panel, tasting a number of top wines, a particular wine is selected based on the result of its exposure to any of the 84 national and international wine competitions and or listings that qualify for indexing. The result is based on the wine’s rating performance over multi-vintage periods and reflects a variety of opinions, in one score.

The Index stems from the development of a system a number of years ago to reliably quantify the perceived quality and value of a wine. In the years since it was first introduced, the Index has gained traction in South Africa as a reliable and accurate tool that accommodates the often-criticised vagaries of traditional wine competitions and represents an aspirational benchmark of quality.

In the course of indexing the wines of SAWi members, comprising almost 20 000 vintages, the Index brought to light a very small number of truly exceptional South African wines, referred to as the ‘SAWi Ambassadors Collection’, with a rating of 95 or above, out of 100. Less than 40 wines have achieved this particular accolade.

Driven by a desire to highlight the exceptional nature of South African wines, SAWi went a step further and applied its indexing methodology to data available for ALL qualifying wines produced in South Africa, including wines of non SAWi members. Wines that achieved a rating of 93 or higher were then included in the ‘South African Grand Wines Collection’.

‘Grand Wines’ (or the French ‘Grand Vin’) are commonly regarded as the best a producer has to offer – showing a level of intellectual or emotional stimulation able to capture the consumer’s imagination and intrigue, if not delight, the palate. As such, a ‘Grand Wine’ is not restricted to a particular area, style or wine-making philosophy, but rather simply stands ahead of its peers as a wine that exhibits the best on offer, in the best possible way.

The result is not simply a list of great South African wines, but a collection that commands the attention of the world, being very close to the very best South Africa has to offer. The ‘South African Grand Wines Collection’ is undoubtedly as close to a complete and unbiased list of top achieving wines as it is possible to come. Using the ‘South African Grand Wines Collection’ the stage is set for South Africa to showcase its finest wines to the world’s luxury consumers.

See the current list here, and let us know what you think! The upcoming SAWi Wine Awards at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve on 20 June 2015 will see an update to the Grand Wines Collection – so be sure to bookmark the page and visit it again.