by Tia

The third decade of the 21st century is proving to be a difficult era for wine producers everywhere. Per capita consumption is falling, so are wine prices. Reduced demand at the more premium levels takes some of the “fat” out of profit margins; insofar as everyday wines are concerned, there is obviously a floor price below which producers cannot go and still remain profitable.

Now, more than ever, the results of the 2024 Trophy Wine Show – brought to you by Investec – have a role to play for producers of Cape wines. In a market where domestic sales are under considerable pressure and exports remain fragile, success at the country’s most credible competition can be life-changing for wineries. Astute wine buyers know that a medal – any medal – awarded by the Trophy Wine Show judges is a guarantee of wine quality. To win one of the fewer than 20 golds awarded to current release wines is akin to hitting the jackpot*.

*In addition to the sales at the winning wineries, over R2m worth of wine from the 2023 Trophy Wine Show sold through the designated retailer – Port2Port – within days of the results being announced. The Trophy Wine Show generates more sales than any other competition or wine guide.

“We pride ourselves in partnering with our clients and creating experiences for those who never settle for ordinary. As headline sponsor of the 2024 Trophy Wine Show, we are not only proudly supporting South Africa’s exceptional wine industry, but we are giving our clients access to something they can’t get anywhere else, from first access to curated cases of award-winning wines to masterclasses and public tastings,” said Investec’s head of Private Banking, Itumeleng Merafe.

A feature of the laureates at the Trophy Wine Show is the extraordinary value they offer wine-drinkers. Many are less expensive than the fashion wines which retail for often eye-wateringly high prices. Wine producers often treat price as a proxy for quality: the higher the price, so this logic goes, the better the wine. The Trophy Wine Show is a benchmarking exercise in which quality alone determines the final outcome. All the wines are judged blind – labels out of sight. The panellists judge only what is in the glass: they have no access to the marketing messages generated by the wineries. Every submission is scored and argued over; every result is achieved through discussion and consensus; every judge carries joint and several responsibility for the final score.

One of the reasons that an award at the Trophy Wine Show carries such weight is the quality of the three-person judging panels, as well as the role played by the international judges in determining the final aesthetic. Leading figures in the world of fine wine – Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW from Napa, Fongyee Walker MW from China and Claire Blackler MW from London – bring a wealth of judging expertise and an international vision to the panels. The local panellists, all graduates of the Wine Judging Academy run in conjunction with the University of Cape Town, contribute years of experience in determining quality across often large classes as well as hard-earned insights specific to Cape wines.

Finally, the Trophy Wine Show is, and has always been, a talent scout discovering, through the quality of what is on the tasting bench, new producers, and identifying where new investments have led to massive improvements in wine quality. This isn’t always what consumers have come to expect: sometimes it is the long established and not particularly fashionable wineries which emerge victorious – proof that commercial dead-ends are caused more by jaded brand managers than by dull wines.

The Trophy Wine Show is also a driver of innovation. The show has led the campaign in South Africa to reduce unnecessary packaging weight. This obviously has an impact on the industry’s carbon footprint. Since 2023 every bottle entered for judging is weighed: an astonishing variance of 200% was recorded at this year’s show.

Salient Information

640 wines were judged at the 2024 Trophy Wine Show. 286 won a bronze medal, 125 silver and 32 won gold. There were 19 trophy winning wines shared between 15 producers. This year for the first time a wine entered in the organic wine category won a gold medal, and thus secured the first ever Organic Wine Trophy.

The number of wines judged per major category

Chardonnay – 67
Chenin Blanc – 62
Sauvignon Blanc wooded and unwooded – 64
Méthode Cap Classique – 37
Bordeaux Blends – 59
Cabernet Sauvignon – 58
Shiraz – 55
Pinotage – 51

This year’s South African panel comprised Narina Cloete, Heidi Duminy CWM, Eben February, Gynore Hendricks, Mandla Patson Mathonsi, James Pietersen and François Rautenbach.

The associate judges, all graduates of the Michael Fridjhon Wine Judging Academy, were Clare Anderson, Kyle Davids, Lauren Segers, Matthew Draper and Kenny Nassen. They are provided with the opportunity of working in a rigorous show-judging environment and learning from the international and local tasters to whom they are seconded. Associate judges work in the tasting room with the main panel and are invited to participate in the discussion, however their scores are not included in the final tally.

Some gems from the international judges:

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW (USA), returning to judge after almost 10 years: “I can see a dramatic upward shift in quality – in winemaking (more sensitive use of oak, and extraction, with finesse) and also in the viticulture.”

Fongyee Walker MW (China), also back after 9 years: In China, they feel shiraz is a world-class grape…I think there’s a great opportunity for South Africa to push its shiraz in China, given that people respect the variety, and know and love it.”

Claire Blackler MW (UK): “I particularly liked the unwooded sauvignon blancs. I loved the purity, the brightness and the freshness of the samples we tasted.”

The Results

The Trophy and Gold medal winners

Investec Trophy for Most Successful Producer Overall KWV

Business Day Trophy for Best Shiraz
Investec Trophy for Discovery of the Show – Best Value Gold Medallist
Investec Trophy for Best Red Wine Overall
Nederburg The Winemasters Shiraz 2022

Trophy for Best Chardonnay
Investec International Judges’ Trophy
Vinolok Trophy for Best Premium Wine
Investec Trophy for Best White Wine Overall
Delaire Graff Estate Banghoek Chardonnay 2022

Investec Trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon
Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2021

Trophy for Best Museum Class Cabernet Sauvignon
Bosman Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Harold Eedes Trophy for Best Chenin Blanc
KWV The Mentors Chenin Blanc 2022

Riedel Trophy for Best Bordeaux-Style Red Blend
Zevenwacht Z Reserve Collection 2021

Trophy for Best Other Red Blend
KWV The Mentors Canvas 2020

Sowetan Trophy for Best Cap Classique
Pongrácz Méthode Cap Classique Blanc de Blancs NV

Trophy for Best Museum Class Cap Classique Trophy for Best Museum Class Wine Overall
JC Le Roux Méthode Cap Classique Scintilla Vintage Reserve 2015

Sunday Times Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc
Trophy for Best Organic Wine
Stark-Condé Round Mountain Sauvignon Blanc 2023 (Wooded)

Trophy for Best Museum Class Sauvignon Blanc
Thelema Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2015 (Unwooded)

Trophy for Best Pinotage
Durbanville Hills Collectors Reserve The Promenade Pinotage 2022

Investec Trophy for Best Semillon
Thor Lara Semillon 2023

Trophy for Best Museum Class Semillon
Bloemendal Semillon 2017

Financial Mail Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Blend
Cape Point Vineyards Isliedh 2022

Trophy for Best Museum Class Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Blend
Bloemendal Kanonberg 2018

Trophy for Best Other White Blend
Schenkfontein Stofjas 2021

Investec Trophy for Best Dessert Wine
Nederburg The Winemasters Noble Late Harvest 2023

Tony Mossop Trophy for Best Cape Port
Delaire Graff Cape Vintage 2021

Gold Medal Winners

Blaauwklippen Chardonnay 2023
Bon Courage Inkará Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve Port 2006
Buitenverwachting ‘1769’ 2021 (Noble Late Harvest)
Cederberg Shiraz 2020
Chamonix Premier White Reserve 2022 (Blend)
De Krans Tritonia Calitzdorp Blend 2022 (Red)
Glen Carlou Chardonnay 2023
Kleine Zalze Vintage Brut Chardonnay Pinot Noir Cap Classique 2017
KWV Cathedral Cellar Sauvignon Blanc 2023 (Unwooded)
Leeuwenkuil Heritage Chenin Blanc 2020
Lothian of Elgin Chardonnay 2021
Zevenwacht Z Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2023

All results, including silver (90 to 94/100) and bronze medallists (85 – 89/100) are listed on the website:

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