February 21, 2012

Platter’s South African Wine Guide

By In Drink Books, Wine Notes

platters south african wine guide 2012

Not sure I quite understand the significance of the coffee pot that Bertus Fourie is shown pouring his wine from on page 312; but it has something to do with being an innovator. This latest edition of the South African wine bible – Platter’s South African Wine Guide – has a theme of ‘innovation’. Scattered amongst the pages are short profiles of those the guide views as the “innovators in the South African wine industry”.

“Using a coffee pot to decant wine is somewhat unconventional, but then so is Bertus Fourie. The wine-maker and educator, nicknamed ‘Starbucks’, is the creator of an entirely new wine category, the ‘coffee pinotage’. He discovered the recipe for this brew by accident in 2001, after trying many combinations of yeasts, oak types and varieties. Though Bertus, who makes this style of wine under the Barista label, believes only pinotage presents a very specific coffee profile, all sorts of taste-alikes, across numerous varieties and blends, are pouring forth faster than you can say cuppa java, And consumers love them”

Are they saying he adds coffee to the wine? Even reading his directory entry I am none the wiser…

The 32nd edition of the guide features 7,000 wines from more than 900 South African wine producers, merchants and brands. All such guides feel the need to award various accolades on their top recommendations; Platter’s is no different with the Boekenhoutskloof winery for example being their winery of the year. Their Red Wine of the Year goes to the Cape Chamonix Reserve 2010 Pinot Noir [Adegga / Snooth]

“Our Red Wine of the Year, shows savoury cedar whiffs, with bright cherry and strawberry aromas powering though tealeaf cigarbox spice. Plush tannins, sweet berry notes integrated 80% new French oak, natural ferment. Even more vibrant and detailed than finely managed 09.”

The Badsberg Badslese 2009 Natural Sweet is their White Wine of the Year [Adegga / Snooth]

“Our White Wine of the Year is this outstanding, elegantly presented Natural Sweet dessert from Chenin. 09 great concentration and spread of flavour, from floral to spicy, huge sweetness concludes on a tangy savoury/leaf note, which is uncloying and decidedly moreish.”

Platter’s South African Wine Guide Superquaffer of the Year is the Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap White 2010 [Adegga / Snooth].

“Budget level Swartland-style newcomer is our Superquaffer of the Year. Mostly Viognier, splashes Chenin Grenache blanc, 2010 offers great value. Creamy, leesy body with ripe stonefruit. Delicious.”

Platter’s South African Wines 2012 is listed on Amazon for £15 and is also (soon to be) available from SA Wines Online.

The Wolftrap White is indeed a fine, everyday, glugger. It would make a decent party wine with its soft richness, gentle spice, rounded palate and eager to please nature. Although the alcohol is getting on to 15%. Versatile enough to handle food too – a lemony, herby roast chicken last Sunday, a pitta bread stuffed with gem lettuce and some left over shredded chicken with mayo for lunch today for example.

There is a red version. The Wolftrap red, a Syrah-Mourvèdre-Viognier, I found a little more interesting and engaging. Again smoothly ripe fruity palate tempered with a little pepper-led spice and fine-grained tannins on the finish.

The Wolftrap White 2010

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Top :: Comments

  1. Jeanne @ CookSister! February 21, 2012

    I’m not sure about the innovators insert. Is this really what readers want? Not sure it adds value to me, but there you go. Still, Platter remains the definitive and comprehensive guide to SA wines. Have definitely seen the Wolftrap wines but not sure I have tried them – should probably rectify that! What cultivars are in the white blend? Love the reflection of your soaring windows in the bottle!

    • Andrew Barrow February 21, 2012

      The white is mainly Viognier with a little Chenin and Grenache blanc. I’ve since found SAWinesOnline retails it for £7.99.

      I also assume the innovators inserts were paid for by the innovators themselves as advertising; but I could be wrong.

  2. Angela Lloyd February 21, 2012

    The innovators didn’t pay for those photos. The picture gallery theme and who is featured are chosen every year by Platter editor, Phil van Zyl after discussion with some of the tasters. Only the advertisements are (obviously) paid for.
    Jeanne, if you have doubts about the theme, what sort would you like to see featured?
    Andrew, if you read the copy under Bertus’s pic, you’ll see that yeasts, oak types and varieties account for the coffee flavour, rather than the illegal addition of real coffee. Bertus developed the style while at Diemersfontein, took it to the KWV when he moved there, then took it with him when he started his own label. I strongly disapprove of all these wines but they are popular with consumers. I do believe they are a fad, so as fashions come, they also go.
    The Wolftrap wines are both excellent value and I’m sure the white – it was new in 2010 – and the red will improve every vintage. Whenever and wherever you see them, you should be sure to try them.

    • Andrew Barrow February 21, 2012

      Oh I see, I didnt really think they added coffee but wasnt sure (even from the quote I copied) where the coffee angle was coming from. Not a fad I think that has caught on here in the UK, but one I should try and find before the fad moves on.

  3. Philip van Zyl February 22, 2012

    Thank you for featuring our guide in your blog, Andrew. We much appreciate it.

    Bertus Fourie, originator of the fastest-growing South African wine categories, namely “coffee pinotage”, is one of eleven innovators featured in the full-colour Photo Gallery of the 2012 book. The Photo Gallery first appeared in the 1990 edition, and showcases mainly wine industry personalities – though on occasion there have been other focuses, including Nelson Mandela toasting his 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with a glass of bubbly.

    The publisher and I decide on the individuals or organisations to be featured in the gallery, based on the year’s chosen theme, and there is no cost to those who are featured. I take Jeanne @ CookSister!’s point that the chosen theme, as such, may not overly excite the consumer but hopefully the individual images and captions are sufficiently interesting and relevant to merit the winelover’s attention. Feel free to browse the 2012 gallery on our Facebook page (http://on.fb.me/wv8H8M ) and judge for yourself.

    It is worth noting that having chosen the theme “Thinking Out Of The Box” for 2012, for the first time we asked our friends on Facebook and Twitter for suggestions of people and entities to include. So encouraging was the response that we will repeat the call for the 2013 gallery, whose theme is “Backstories”. The idea here is that behind every bottle is a tale waiting to be told, and we’ll be exploring the stories behind a dozen or so noteworthy cellars, vineyards and brands, and bringing them to life in words and pictures.

    Best wishes,
    Philip @ wineonaplatter


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