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Africa does well at the World Blind Tasting Champs


14 October 2018  -  Jean Vincent Ridon

Twenty-three countries participated to The World Blind Tasting Championships held at Chateau Saint Pierre de Serjac on the 13th of October 2018. Organised by La Revue du Vin France since 2013, the championship sees teams of wine lovers competing to identify 12 wines served to them blind

Led by Anita Streicher Nel, Team Nederburg representing South Africa achieved its best performance ever with 105 points, pushing Team South Africa up the 10th position in the world ranking. This achievement was a collective effort by Cape Wine Master Anton Swarts, certified Worldsom sommelier Welma Smith and Gauteng based wine enthusiast Pieter de Klerk and of course, captain Anita.

Dethroning Sweden, Belgium becomes the 2018 World Champion with a stratospheric 144, 20 points ahead of Finland and France who shared the podium with the Belgian team.

Team Zimbabwe celebrated its second participation with 84 points, granting them the 14th position in the final ranking.

The level of the competition is always extremely high, but the score this year proved how much this World Championship attracts the best wine tasters from around the world. Like South Africa where Team Nederburg was selected out of 350 wine lovers participating to the South African Wine Tasting Championship, most of the countries have nationwide selections. China recruited its national team over 14 local competitions, and 3500 Chinese wine fans entered the process.

“It is a true honour for South Africa to have performed so well among competitors of such a high level” declared Team Nederburg Captain, Anita Streicher Nel. South Africa ranked just 3 points behind Swedish defending world champions.

“It is very difficult to get access to the full spectrum of the wines of the world locally, since South Africa is a major producer itself” states Cape Wine Master Anton Swarts. To help remedy this shortage of international wines in South Africa, Team Nederburg 2018 undertook a journey through France and Spain to get exposure to the European iconic wines. Travelling with Team’s substitute Cyril Meidinger and Nederburg winemaker Heinrich Kulsen, the Team undertook a full day tasting Masterclass lectured by Dominique Laporte, one of the most famous European sommeliers before visiting Penedes, Rioja, Madiran and Cahors before being welcomed with national honours by Chateau Angelus, one of Bordeaux's leading wine icons.

Boosted by this team building journey, Team Nederburg arrived at the championship stronger than ever. 12 wines were served blind to them over slightly more than two hours. They had to identify the cultivar, the country, the appellation, the vintage and the producer. “It is a very humbling experience when you consider the myriad of possibilities” says Pieter de Klerk.

Team effort works well. The magic four discussed every wine, trying to find out the DNA of each glass, but Captain Anita has to make the final call if the understanding of the wine is not unanimous. It is a huge responsibility but it is always out of mutual respect, probably the reason why Team Nederburg performed so well this year.

“We must congratulate Team Belgium for their title, while never forgetting that we are not far from the top” says confident Welma Smith who participated for the first time in the championship. ''The feeling of being part of the world of wine has been overwhelming, almost feeling like a big wine family everywhere where the Team has been on the trip.''

"'Bringing a South African team to the World Championship is not only about trying to win the title, but bringing wine knowledge back home, while showing the rest of the world that South Africa is a great nation of wine, and must be acknowledged as such for its participation'' declares coach Jean Vincent Ridon. In 2019 the World Blind Tasting Challenge will take place at the Chateau de Chambord in the Loire Valley. A Team South Africa will be selected by the South African Wine Tasting Championship and will fight for the title, because South Africa has talents.

RESULTS OF THE 2018 WORLD BLIND WINE TASTING CHAMPIONSHIPS

  1. Belgium, 144 points
  2. Finland, 123 points
  3. France, 115 points
  4. Taïwan, 114 points
  5. Hungary, 112 points
  6. Switzerland, 111 points
  7. Denmark, 110 points
  8. Russia, 109 points
  9. Sweden, 108 points
  10. South Africa 105 points
  11. Luxemburg, 105 points
  12. Poland, 102 points
  13. China, 90 points
  14. Zimbabwe, 85 points
  15. USA, 85 points
  16. Belarus, 83 points
  17. Netherlands, 73 points
  18. Japan, 69 points
  19. Monaco, 67 points
  20. United Kingdom, 63 points
  21. Italy, 62 points
  22. Brazil, 61 points
  23. Spain, 51 points