Latest News:

The 2018 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show - Top Players Remain In Their Groove

30 May 2018  -  Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show

The results of the 2018 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show were announced at a luncheon at the Mount Nelson. Of the 977 wines judged, 40 gold medals and 23 trophies were awarded for Best in Class, including the coveted Most Successful Producer of the Show.

Sometimes – not always - the outcome of a major wine judging event such as the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show achieves an almost magical quality. The panels deliberate for several days, identifying the best wines across 20 or 30 classes, sifting their way through around 1000 wines, seeking the very best, but also alert to changing styles, different aesthetic statements. Finally all this effort comes together at the Trophy judging, where only the gold medal winners are once again put through the mill in order to identify the “best in class” and “best on show”.

Only once this process has been completed is it possible to see whether there has been any coherence to their efforts. Given that no two panels are the same, and most of the members of the judging panels from previous years are no longer at the tasting benches, it is fair to ask what possible chance there might be for past laureates ever to appear again on the winners' podium – unless, that is, the panellists are skilled judges and able to discern and reward the criteria the show sets out to identify and commend.

When there is a reasonable overlap – a few of the best known producers of a particular style or class back in the winners' enclosure within a year or two of a previous appearance – there's a sense that this isn't a matter of chance. And then there are years – like 2018 – when the judges of the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show simply exceed all expectations, with 90% of the trophy winners gold medallists from the past five years, and several on the podium for two years in a row with the next vintage of a 2017 trophy or gold medal winner.

Equally exciting is the presence of a number of newcomers to the limelight, from Warwick Wine Estate – which took home the Most Successful Producer Trophy, to De Grendel, Laborie, Middelvlei and Springfontein – all first time trophy winners, and then a host of first time gold medallists viz. Arabella, Beaumont, Glenelly, Grande Provence, Middelvlei, Overhex, Rainbow’s End and Zandvliet.

Within this sparkling array were several noteworthy achievements. The top red wine of the show was the 2015 Leeuwenkuil Heritage Syrah, a worthy successor to last year's winner of the Old Mutual Trophy for the best red on show - the Leeuwenkuil Heritage Syrah 2014. The 2018 winner of the Nestlé Pure Life Trophy for the show's best Sauvignon Blanc was Stark-Condé – for the 2017 Round Mountain (wooded) Sauvignon Blanc. Last year the Stark-Condé 2016 took home the trophy. The 2015 Buitenverwachting “1769” won the same dessert wine trophy that the 2014 bagged in 2017. Two vintages in a row of the Landzicht Muscadel have won the Best Fortified Wine trophies, two successive vintages of DeMorgenzon Chardonnay (the 2016 in 2017, the 2017 in 2018) won gold medals. Stellar Organics No Sulphur Added Organic Shiraz won gold medals in 2018 and 2016 for the 2017 and 2015 vintages respectively. 

Comparing the 2018 results with those from 2015 there are equally fascinating correlations: gold medals for Olifantsberg Silhouette (2014 and 2013), Rustenberg Peter Barlow (2015 and 2009), Vergelegen GVB (2013 and 2011). The medal tally was 40 gold, 136 silver and 455 bronze.

"All serious wine competitions are expected to prove their credentials by including in their line-up of winners producers who would be regarded as the 'top seeds'. They are also expected to act as ‘talent scouts’ identifying - ahead of the market - cellars yet to become mainstream, or changes brought about when leading wine makers change their place of employment. The results of the 2018 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show fit this format pretty much to perfection: the overlap between the names of the top cellars this year with those of the past couple of vintages, the aesthetic message of the winning wines, the new stars sharing the podium with a host of familiar players - all these are gratifying signs that the judges - local and international - have produced a credible and coherent set of results upon which the wine-drinking public can rely with confidence," Michael Fridjhon concluded.

“We are proud to shine a spotlight on South Africa’s best wines through the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show,” says Thobile Tshabalala, Head of Brand at Old Mutual Emerging Markets.

“At Old Mutual, we understand the importance of dedication, knowledge and experience in delivering your exceptional best. Our sponsorship not only celebrates fine wines but also plays an important role in skills development for the wine industry. As such, our aim is to benchmark excellence in the South African wine industry and to connect with that segment of our customer base that appreciates fine wine.”

Partners American Express, Grande Roche Hotel, Nestlé Pure Life, Miele, Riedel and nationwide retailer Makro each have naming rights to a trophy. Other named awards include the Chenin Blanc trophy – named after the late Harold Eedes, who, as publisher of Wine Magazine in the 1990s, played a key role in South Africa's Chenin Blanc renaissance. In 2012 the Trophy for Best Cape Port was named after the late Tony Mossop CWM.

Shiraz was the largest class with 106 submissions (110 in 2017), followed by Cabernet Sauvignon at 94 (93 last year). Pinotage was slightly down (50 compared with 2017's 53) but Chenin Blanc increased by 26% from 62 in 2017 to 79 this year. Sauvignon Blanc with 96 entries (2017: 92) and Chardonnay with 80 (2017: 89) lead the white wine charge, while Bordeaux Blends up by 10% on last year at 86 (2017: 79), Merlot at 45 entries (2017: 43), and Pinot Noir (5 up on last year’s 23) with 28, account for the balance of the major red wine classes.

A countrywide roadshow will follow immediately after the results are announced.  The Cape Town Public Tasting takes place on Wednesday 13 June at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (17h00 – 21h00) and on Friday 15 June in Johannesburg at the Sandton Convention Centre. No fewer than 170 trophy, gold and silver medal-winning wines will be presented for tasting and to order via Makro’s pop-up stores. Tickets are available via Computicket at and cost R200.


All the Trophy Winners

Old Mutual Trophy for Most Successful Producer Overall

Warwick Wine Estate

Makro Trophy for Best Shiraz, Old Mutual International Judges’ Trophy and
Old Mutual Trophy for Best Red Wine Overall

Leeuwenkuil Heritage Syrah 2015 

Harold Eedes Trophy for Best Chenin Blanc, Old Mutual Trophy for Best White Wine Overall

Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2016

Old Mutual Trophy for Discovery of the Show / Best Value Gold Medallist

Arabella Pinotage 2017

American Express Trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon

Rustenberg Peter Barlow Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Old Mutual Trophy for Best Sparkling Wine

Laborie Méthode Cap Classique Blanc de Blancs 2011

Old Mutual Trophy for Best Dessert Wine (Unfortified)

Buitenverwachting ‘1769’ 2015

Riedel Trophy for Best Bordeaux-Style Red Blend

Diemersdal Private Collection 2016

Miele Trophy for Best Chardonnay

Tokara Reserve Collection Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2016

Nestlé Pure Life Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc

Stark-Condé Round Mountain Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Grand Roche Trophy for Best White Blend

Backsberg Family Reserve White 2017

Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Blend

Warwick Professor Black 2017

Trophy for Best Cabernet Franc

Warwick Cabernet Franc 2015

Trophy for Best Shiraz-Based Red Blend

Middelvlei Momberg 2016

Trophy for Best Pinotage

De Grendel Amandelboord Pinotage 2016

Trophy for Best Niche Variety

Springfontein Limestone Rocks Child in Time Petit Verdot 2012


Trophy for Best Merlot

Eagles’ Nest Merlot 2014 

Trophy for Best Fortified Wine

Landzicht Wit Muskadel 2016

Trophy for Best Museum Class Sauvignon Blanc

Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2011

Trophy for Best Museum Class White Blend

Vergelegen G.V.B White 2013


Also Gold Medal Winners

Arabella Pinotage 2017

Backsberg Pumphouse Shiraz 2016

Beaumont Family Wines Dangerfield Syrah 2016

Boschendal Appellation Series Elgin Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Buitenverwachting Christine 2012

Cape Point Vineyards Noordhoek Sauvignon Blanc 2017

De Grendel Koetshuis Sauvignon Blanc 2017

DeMorgenzon Reserve Chardonnay 2017

DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc 2017

Diemersfontein Woolworths Reserve Collection Pinotage 2016

Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Chardonnay 2016

Glenelly Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2016

Grande Provence Chenin Blanc 2017

Marras Swartland Los Tros Chenin Blanc 2017

Meerlust Rubicon 2015

Middelvlei Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Olifantsberg Silhouette 2014

Rainbow’s End Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Springfontein Daredevils’ Drums Bunches Broken Shiraz 2016

Stellar Organics Woolworths No Sulphur Added Organic Shiraz 2017

Survivor Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (Overhex Wines International)

Zandvliet Shiraz 2015



This year's international judges were Isa Bal MS, (UK) Master Sommelier and the former Head Sommelier at Heston Blumenthal’s 3 star Michelin Restaurant The Fat Duck; Charles Chevallier (France), ex-technical director, and now group ambassador and senior advisor to the Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite group; and Debra Meiburg MW (Hong Kong), an award-winning author, journalist, TV personality, international speaker, and widely considered the global authority on the Asian wine market.

The South African panel comprised Narina Cloete, winemaker, Blaauwklippen Agricultural Estate; Heidi Duminy CWM, National Trade Marketing Manager for Meridian Wine Merchants; Christian Eedes, co-owner and editor of; Alexandra McFarlane, winemaker at Druk-My-Niet; Nkulu Mkhwanazi, Johannesburg-based wine educator; and James Pietersen, SA Portfolio manager for Wine Cellar. Michael Fridjhon was the Show Chairman.

The participation of a team of associate panellists, drawn from the pool of rising South African winemaking and wine-writing talent, ensures that the next generation of the country's wine judges gain experience in this most rigorous of environments. A different associate judge sat with each panel on each of the medal-judging days of the show. 

They participated in the tasting and the post-judging discussion, though their scores were not necessarily taken into account in the final tally. Their involvement provides an essential training platform for the country’s wine judges of the future. This year’s associate judges were Murray Barlow (Rustenberg Wines); Ndaba Dube (The Vineyard Hotel); Eben February (Jordan Wines); Spencer Fondaumiere (Burrata group), Patson Mathonsi (Reciprocal Wine Company), and Debi van Flymen CWM.