Review: The Sommeliers Selection Awards 2015

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Sommeliers Selection AwardsThe inaugural Sommeliers Selection Awards was a distinctly unstuffy occasion.  The South African Sommeliers Association has decided there is a need to celebrate wines with the price in mind: wines that the everyday wine drinker might come across – a surprisingly original idea.

The event was hosted at Constantia Uitsig’s new Open Door restaurant. The wooden doorframes suspended from the roof and the collection of door handles artfully arranged against one wall added a whimsical touch to the otherwise earthy, relaxed atmosphere. The venue managed to sustain its “patience of earth and stone” atmosphere in the midst of the concentrated chaos of an award ceremony. A job well done, indeed.

The Sommeliers Selection Awards is based on a standard two panel blind tasting. The bit that gets me all excited is the fact that it is consumer focused. Wines are judged not by varietal, but by category, which is great because it means that heavier, wooded white wines are not judged along with light, crisp white wines. This may sound nit-picky, but the distinction is practical: categories include House Wines (under R 110 per bottle) as well as various style categories within the basic White, Red, Rose and Sparkling Wines.

Another important distinction is that not all the categories had trophy winners. The only drawback was the fact that a number of attendees couldn’t see the proceedings, because they couldn’t all crowd in to the main room. Fortunately, both the speeches and award presentations were short and to the point. Formalities out of the way, attendees could get back to the important business of tasting all of the wines that made it onto the shortlist.

Some standouts were:

The Graham Beck Brut Rosé which won the wine by the list trophy for House Wine Bubbles category. That perfect balance between sweetness and dryness is what makes this MCC so special.

The Hartenberg Alchemy Syrah 2013 is a voluptuous wine balanced with fresh fruit notes and was awarded the Wine by the List trophy for the category House Wine Red.

The Wine by the List trophy for White: Elegant and Classy was awarded to (among two others) La Motte’s Chardonnay 2013 which is lightly wooded and absolutely delicious.

My favourite of the day was the Oldenberg Cabernet Sauvignon 2011. It is a full bodied, spicy red with a pleasing peppery note on the palate.

The Sommeliers Selection has all the makings of becoming a household go-to reference to help individuals and restaurants alike decide which bottle of wine to crack open.

Freda Scheffler
Also posted on Freda’s Blog: Chronicles of a Banter.

The Sommeliers Selection Awards took place at The Open Door restaurant, Constantia Uitsig 19 June 2015.

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