Thursday night last week, 29 October 2015, saw the Oscars of the wine industry unfold – The Platter’s by Diners Club South African Wine Guide 2016 was releasing its results. Over 200 wine industry personalities waited with baited breath as the prestigious 5-star award winners were announced.
The Platter Wine Guide was started in 1980 by wine legends John and Erica Platter who rated all the wines in the Cape at the time. Back then it was a thin and skinny booklet as the industry was still shackled by the previous regime, with grape and wine production being controlled, and had not yet mushroomed into what it is today. In the 2016 Guide there are over 900 producers and over 8 000 wines that are rated.
And there is solid proof that South African wines are getting better each year. The 2016 Guide features the highest amount of 5-star wines ever – with 83 5-star wines, plus three 5-star brandies and one 5-star husk spirit – also known as grappa in Italy or marc in France.
The stars of the show, the Oscar equivalent of Best Leading Role or Best Picture, went to Mullineux And Leeu Family Wines and Warwick Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. Chris and Andrea Mullineux are the “It” winemaking couple right now and produced not only the 5-star Red Wine of the Year for theirMullineux Iron Syrah 2014, which is a site specific cracker of a Shiraz, but also the Sweet Wine of the Year for their experimental Mullineux Olerasay non-vintage Straw Wine, which is made in the Solera style (similar to how a sherry is made in Spain).
They are a young and dynamic couple, based in the Swartland, who never cease to push the boundaries in the industry and are often seen as mavericks, but always quality producers.
The White Wine of the Year award went to icon Stellenbosch winery Warwick Wine Estate. Family-owned for over 50 years, Warwick had one of South Africa’s first female winemakers, Norma Ratcliffe, as its owner and winemaker. Now winemaker Nic van Aarde has taken the reins in the cellar and has a produced a classically styled Chardonnay – the Warwick White Lady 2014 – made by using natural yeasts and ferment. Warwick has always been most famous for its Bordeaux-styled red wines, so it was with great pleasure that this single-vineyard white was recognised.
Other winners were Spier, which took four 5-star awards; and both Newton Johnson Family Vineyards and David and Nadia Sadie, each took three 5-stars. There were also 16 producers who won their first-ever 5-star award, with relative newcomers, Savage and Luddite being super pleased with their achievements.