Wednesday, May 18, 2011




Judging for the 2011 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show – considered by many to be the country’s premier wine competition - took place at Grande Roche in Paarl from 9 to 12 May.

Nine panellists, working in groups of three and including one international judge on every three person panel, made t

heir way through the 1 062 submissions from 225 producers.

Old Mutual, headline sponsor of the competition since its inception, sees great value in a process which identifies the country’s top wines and makes this information available to the South African wine drinking public.

Recognising the importance of the rigour which goes into the Show's judging methodology, Old Mutual takes the top wines on a national roadshow to introduce them to discerning wine lovers in seven cities in Southern Africa.

“Old Mutual is proud of its 10-year sponsorship of the most prestigious event on South Africa’s wine calendar,’ says Joy Khaole, Old Mutual’s sponsorship manager. “Not only does it provide us with opportunities to build relationships with the wine-loving community, but it enables us to support the pursuit of excellence in an industry important to the reputation of Brand South Africa.”

The wealth management company’s support of the Show makes it possible to work in a judging venue which meets the highest international standards and for the show's organisers to assemble a panel of tasters which includes several with long-established international reputations.

Meticulous attention to detail throughout the process is part of how the Trophy Wine Show maintains its reputation as one of the toughest and most rigorous events of its kind in the world.


The Show’s rules and guidelines are detailed in the entry kit and cover certification requirements, the market-readiness of the wines and the composition of the blends. Producers are compelled to declare the actual volumes of the batches bottled for submission to the show and medal-winners may only order medal stickers to the volume covered by this declaration and confirmed by SAWIS (South African Wine Industry Information & Systems).

Technical issues are managed by the show chairman, Michael Fridjhon, while show logistics (including the implementation of the ‘blind’ i.e. unsighted tasting) are undertaken by show manager, Celia Gilloway.

Submissions are kept in Miele wine storage units so that they can be brought to the judges at optimum temperature in Riedel tasting glasses. Judges never see the bottles or any aspect of the packaging, ensuring that their opinion is based on the wine’s merits rather than its image or reputation.

The three panels are directed to produce a consensus-driven result.

All the wines remain on the tasting bench until the completion of the judging of a particular class. This enables the jury to back-taste and to compare the evolution of the wine in the glass.

The panel's result is then submitted to the scrutiny of the show chairman and, in the case of the gold medal winners, to all their fellow tasters at the Trophy judging which takes place on the final day.

Prior to the announcement of the results, the top wines are submitted to an independent laboratory to confirm that the show sample is identical to the wines available through the trade.

The judging process and the competition results are monitored and audited by chartered accountants PKF.

The 2011 show attracted 1 062 entries from 225 producers.

Most of the entries retail for at least R100 – an indication that the industry recognises this as the most sophisticated competition of its mind in the country. The entry breakdown is as follows: Shiraz 132; Chardonnay 88; Cabernet Sauvignon 106; Bordeaux-style red blends 98; Sauvignon Blanc 141; Merlot 56; Pinotage 55; Chenin Blanc 48; and Museum Class 62 (substantially up on last year’s 39). Other Red Blend entries totalled 101 and White Blends 57. The 2010 show saw 1 012 wines judged from 234 producers with 25 trophies awarded to 18 cellars.


Event partners American Express, British Airways Comair, Grande Roche Hotel, Miele and Riedel enjoy naming rights in respect of some of the trophies.

Since the 2010 event the Chenin Blanc trophy has been 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.

The 2011 judging panel comprised international judges Debra Meiburg MW, founding director and judge of the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition, Neal Martin, critic-at-large for eRobert Parker, America's most important wine publication and Thierry Desseauve, former editor of La Revue du Vin de France, France's most influential wine guide. 

They shared this task with several of South Africa's most highly trained palates Рincluding Cathy van Zyl MW, former editor of Wine Magazine Christian Eedes, winery owner Gary Jordan, sommelier Miguel Chan, industry consultant Ginette de Fleuriot CWM and wine buyer Fran̤ois Rautenbach. Michael Fridjhon, who has been show convenor since 2002, continued as chairman of the judges.

Associate judges for this year’s show were selected from South Africa’s new generation winemakers and wine buyers.

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 winemakers Chris Albrecht (Bouchard Finlayson), Francois Conradie (Muratie), Thys Louw (Diemersdal), Bernard le Roux (Noble Hill) and JD Pretorius (Steenberg) and wine consultants Heidi Duminy CWM and Nkulu Mkhwanazi.

The results of the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show will be announced in Cape Town on 1 June and the countrywide roadshow will follow immediately until 15 June 2011.

Public tastings in Cape Town and Johannesburg take place at the CTICC on Thursday 9 June (17h00 to 20h30) and Sandton Sun on Friday 10 June (18h00 to 21h00).

Tickets are available via Computicket at and cost R100 if purchased by 5 June or R120 thereafter or at the door.

Visit the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show website for further information and historical statistics.

The 2011 results will be available on the website from 15h30 on Wednesday 1 June.


Issued on behalf of the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show:

Contact: Michael Fridjhon
Telephone: 011 482 9178 / 083 600 9101
Issued by: OutSorceress Marketing
Contact: Janice Fridjhon & Alex Mason-Gordon
Tel: 011 482 5936