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Announcing Western Cape winners of the 2019 South African Wine Tasting Champs

3 June 2019  -  SA Wine Tasting Championships

The South African Wine Tasting Championships Provincial leg for the Western Cape took place at the TAJ Hotel on Saturday 1st of June 2019. It was the opportunity for wine lovers to compete and show their wine tasting talents. Running since 2013, the SAWTC selects candidates to make the Team representing South Africa at the World Blind Tasting Challenge, the Olympics of wine tasting.

The structure of the competition is to identify 10 anonymous decanters served to them out of a potential pool of 51 wines which the competitors could taste sighted beforehand. More than just wine knowledge, the competition rewards exceptional palate memory, a natural talent prerequisite to join Team Nederburg 2019 going to France in October.

The wines to identify were :

  • Nederburg The Anchorman Chenin 2017
  • Radford Dale Renaissance Chardonnay 2017
  • Spioenkop Chenin 2018
  • Ken Forrester Chenin 2018
  • Spier 21 Gables Sauvignon Blanc 2018
  • Nederburg Two Centuries Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
  • Almenkerk Syrah 2014
  • Spice Route Terra de Bron Grenache 2015
  • Creation Sumac Grenache 2016
  • L’Avenir Pinotage Single Block 2017

The 2019 Provincial champion is Samarie Smith, showing for the 5th consecutive time that women rule the game of wine tasting.  Samarie works at Benguela Cove and was a member of Team South Africa in 2014. She is guaranteed a seat in the national finals on the 21st of July that will decide the composition of Team Nederburg 2019.

Samarie lead the 10 best provincial tasters who are guaranteed a finals seat, meeting the winners of the Tops @ Spar Wine Show challenges taking place in Monte Casino on the 8th of June, and on the 13th of July at Grand West in Cape Town. Depending on availability to be part of Team South Africa, some of the Top 20 may have a chance to be invited to the National Finals in Cape Town.

Competitors unanimously declared that the 2019 Provincial selection was one of the hardest ever, and the winning scores are much lower than the previous years. Jean Vincent Ridon, the organiser of the SAWTC and coach of Team SA knows why. Three Chenins were selected among the white wines because the selection had to focus on the ability to identify our national grape. “Because Chenin is offering so many style of wines, Team South Africa was never able to identify our own at the World Blind Tasting Challenge” so he decided at the very last minute, helped by Neil Tabraham from Sommeliers Academy, to put three chenin wines in the line-up.

The wines the most easily spotted by competitors were the Spier Sauvignon Blanc and the Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon, while Chenin from fresh climates defied the expectations of tasters. On the competition form some questions gave bonus points in order to screen the best of the best!  While marking the papers, Jean Vincent could not help but smile when he read twice that the answer for the meaning of COT was the place where babies sleep… He still gave the point for this actual truth, however the answer was Malbec, which is regionally called Cot in many regions…

There were 152 visitors, with 112 taking the test. 

The following have qualified for the finals:

  • Samarie Smith
  • Gareth Robertson
  • Edwina Frantz
  • Matija Leskovic
  • Georgio Meletiou
  • Anita Streicher Nel (Captain of 2018 and before)
  • Anton Swarts (member of Team 2018 and before)
  • James Walls

The other top candidates will have to wait for the Johannesburg and Cape Town Tops @Spar Wine Show results to know their chances to take part in the finals to qualify for Team South Africa 2019.

The other best scores were achieved by:

  • Wim Braak
  • Cyril Meidinger
  • Roxan Waldeck
  • Chris Groenewald
  • Billet Magara
  • Shirley Muswema
  • Andy Nkulu
  • Yolani Kaso
  • Veronique Booysen
  • Jacqueline Lahoud
  • Heidi Kritzinger

Team Nederburg will be selected at the national finals on the 21st of July at the Taj and will undergo an intense training before embarking a journey to Champagne and the Loire Valley before reaching the Chateau of Chambord for the World Blind Challenge on the 12th of October in France. May the best Team win. is proud to have been the Media Partner for the South African Wine Championships since inception - so do keep up to date HERE with all the goings-on.