RisCura Red Hot Wine Awards 2016 results

June 22, 2016
by Christian
in News, Special Projects
with 13 Comments

RedHotWineAwards logoResults of the second annual RisCura Red Hot Wine Awards featuring Bordeaux-style red blends as made in South Africa are now out. 59 entries from 46 producers were received and these were tasted blind (labels out of site) by the three-person panel, scoring done according to the 100-point quality scale.

Wines to rate 90 points or higher were as follows:

94
Groot Constantia Gouverneurs Reserve Red 2013

93
Ernie Els Signature 2013
Mveme Raats MR de Compostella 2014

92
Delaire Graff Botmaskop 2014
Hartenberg The Mackenzie 2012
Spier Creative Block 5 2013
Vriesenhof Kallista 2010

91
Dombeya Fenix 2011
Eikendal Classique 2014
Uva Mira O.T.V. 2014

90
Creation Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Petit Verdot 2014
Diemersdal Private Collection 2014
Rustenberg John X Merriman 2013

As producer of the best wine overall, Groot Constantia won a new 300-litre Selection range barrel from Tonnellerie Sylvain worth nearly R14 000.

To read the tasting report in full, download the following: #RisCuraRedHot – Tasting Report 2016

To view a photo album of the awards function, CLICK HERE.

There is a public tastings of the top performing wines on 29 June in Cape Town. To buy tickets, CLICK HERE.

To find out more about RisCura, CLICK HERE.

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13 Comments

  1. Jacques MbuyilukusaJuly 1, 2016 at 10:56 pmReply

    I have looked through these results in details and certainly their commendable however there are couples of wines on the 85 score ranges which definitely should have score 90
    Nevertheless I welcome the results and of course those wines which have score 90 plus ate unquestionable.
    However I am in complete agreement with Francois R it is up to us wine buyer/ consumer to benchmark the panel results and make our final decision.

  2. JamesJune 27, 2016 at 2:43 pmReply

    “However and notwithstanding, I am not going to get involved in a long-winded “…debate””

    You could have fooled me, Donald

  3. François.RJune 23, 2016 at 1:25 pmReply

    There are unquestionably going to be disagreements on the aesthetics of the wines submitted and how they scored.
    There remains however good consistency in the judging even a year apart comparing the 2015 Riscura Red Hot results. There are differences in exact scores however note that apart from the De Compostella featuring both years, there is also Diemersdal, Dombeya Fenix and Uva Mira OTV.
    The panel is showing consistency within their aesthetic parameters – it is up to us a wine buyers and / or consumers to benchmark against the panel and then ultimately trust our own taste.

  4. Greg Sherwood MWJune 23, 2016 at 10:43 amReply

    Christian,
    While blind tasting is notoriously difficult as you are negating the power of the brand, I can’t help but read the over all results and feel, generally speaking, you (all) are scoring the wines way too low (and I say this as an outspoken critic of global score inflation!)

    I’ve tasted every vintage of M an C and never have I been tempted to score one as low as 81 or even 85. You are talking bulk supermarket quality level basically. All I can do to the overall scores is bell curve them up in the same way I Bell curve James Sucklings down by 2 to 3 points on the 100 point scale.

    But however one phrases it, 81 score for a Vilafonte wine (unless faulty) is ludicrous and does not instil confidence in the overall scoring I’m afraid.

    • ChristianJune 23, 2016 at 12:21 pmReplyAuthor

      Hi Greg, I would counter that Pietersen’s score of 81 for Series M is brave, foolhardy even, but not ludicrous. If we are frank, Vilafonte wines are in a brazen style – massive fruit concentration and lots of oak. I understand that there is a market segment that appreciates such wines and I think Vilafonte is executing very well in this regard. When it comes to sheer drinkability which hinges on refreshment and finesse, then these wines fall down. Wine assessment is surely as much about aesthetics as measuring technical correctness.

    • Donald AckermanJune 24, 2016 at 4:10 pmReply

      As a result of some very horrid critique levelled by some wine critics against some members of the panel of tasters regarding the assessment of Bordeaux-style red blends as made in South Africa, I deemed it essential and proper to comment and articulate some counterargument and view.

      Firstly, I am not a wine critic, however I have made wine myself on very small scale and are currently still dabbling in the “dark arts” of winemaking albeit on small scale, but certainly cannot lay any claim to such lofty acclaim of being a competent judge, or critic if you will, of fine wine.

      Although wine consumers are concerned with product quality, it is virtually impossible to determine the quality of a bottle of wine before opening and tasting it.

      Wine critics therefore provide consumers with information about otherwise hidden product quality. Through their evaluations, critics apply and communicate standards for product quality. Wine consumers have come to rely on the quality ratings of wine critics to inform their purchase decisions.

      Because these critics’ judgments are accepted as legitimate proxies for unobservable product quality, their ratings are closely monitored by distributors, retailers and customers, as well as by producers.

      What is then the role of the wine critic in such a setting? – An excerpt from the 1999 edition of Parker’s Wine Buyer’s Guide. – In short, the role of the critic is to render judgments that are reliable.

      It is imperative for a wine critic to be independent . . . the independent stance required of a consumer advocate often, not surprisingly, results in an adversarial relationship with the wine trade.

      Judgments ought to be made solely on the basis of the product in the bottle, and not on the pedigree, the price, the rarity, or one’s like or dislike of the producer. The wine critic who is totally candid may be considered dangerous by the trade, but an uncensored, independent point of view is of paramount importance to the consumer . . . This is wine criticism at its purest, most meaningful.

      Overachievers should be spotted, praised, and their names highlighted and shared with the consuming public. Underachievers should be singled out for criticism and called to account for their mediocrities. Few friends from the wine commerce are likely to be earned for such outspoken and irreverent commentary, but wine buyers are entitled to such information.

      When a critic bases his or her judgment on what others think, or on the wine’s pedigree, price, or perceived potential, then wine criticism is nothing more than a sham.

      No one argues with the incontestable fact that tasting is a subjective endeavour. However, articulating in an understandable fashion why the critic finds the wines enthralling or objectionable is manifestly important both to the reader and to the producer. The critic must always seek to educate, to provide meaningful guidelines, never failing to emphasise that there can never be any substitute for the consumer’s palate, nor any better education than the reader’s own tasting of the wine. Yet the critic should always share with the reader his or her reasoning for bad reviews . . .

      . . . the critic should never shy away from criticising those producers whose wines are found lacking. Given the fact that the consumer is the true taster of record, the “taste no evil” approach to wine writing serves no one . . .

      Constructive and competent criticism has proven that it can benefit producers as well as consumers, since it forces underachievers to improve the quality of their fare, and by lauding overachievers, it encourages them to maintain high standards to the benefit of all who enjoy and appreciate good wine.

      Wine, like everything in life, cannot be reduced to black and white answers. Wine is, in the final analysis, a beverage of pleasure, and intelligent wine criticism should be a blend of both hedonistic and analytical schools of thought – to the exclusion of neither.

      With theses aspects set as background, what should the true virtues of a wine critic be? Extensive experience and a trained susceptibility? An exquisite palate?

      No, from a legal perspective, my background, these are but secondary attributes. To be able to aspire to the lofty requisites as stated above the most fundamental and true virtues of an exceptional and admirable wine critic is his or her integrity, honesty and trustworthiness, of which James Pietersen and Roland Peens, according to my experience, has bucket loads of. I, for one, dearly appreciate the manner in which James Pietersen and Roland Peens conduct their affairs. That is with integrity and being authentic.

      • KwispedoorJune 24, 2016 at 5:47 pm

        Hi, Donald

        I had a quick read through these comments again and I can’t find the “very horrid critique levelled by some wine critics against some members of the panel of tasters”. I suppose you could be lauded for vouching for the integrity of the panel members, but I also don’t see their integrity being questioned anywhere. What I do see is civil and honest debate about legitimate issues that arose from this tasting.

        Have you read the comments thoroughly or are you perhaps responding to comments elsewhere? Or am I missing something?

    • GrantJune 29, 2016 at 1:49 pmReply

      As Len Evans used to be fond of saying , ‘ a peek at the label can do wonders for your appreciation of a wine.’

      There are no absolutes in wine. Three tasters tasted a wine blind and were underwhelmed. At another show it might be loved. Happens all the time. And that’s ok too. Cheers

  5. KwispedoorJune 22, 2016 at 7:37 pmReply

    Hi, Christian

    Thanks for releasing a full set of results (unlike most other competitions). Surely, it leaves the door open for more robust debate, but it’s a whole lot more fun to read and contemplate.

    I understand that tasting is not an exact science by a long shot and that a host of variables are at play. Thus one could never expect the same wine to always be rated exactly the same on different occasions.

    Even so, it caught my attention that you recently rated the Vilafonté Series M 2013 a very good 92 points, while it received a comparatively lowly 85 points here. Did this happen because your two co-tasters scored the wine closer to 80 points or might it be that you have had some bad bottles here or could it be attributed to the fact that big blind tastings is just a very different kettle of fish than tasting a single bottle sighted? I suppose the best way to taste a wine thoroughly would arguably be by drinking it over a day or two (first blind, then later knowing what it is – to factor in track record and so forth), but of course that’s not always possible, and clearly not in cases such as these.

    The Series C 2013 scored 84 points here, which is three points lower than the lowest rated vintage (the 2008 at 87 points) from your vertical tasting of Series C (vintages 2003 – 2012) a while ago. On the face of it then, the 2013 seems to be easily the weakest vintage ever (even if one allows for two other experienced tasters’ scores also being reckoned into the 2013’s score). This is probably not quite the case?

    I guess I ask this, not because I don’t respect the tasting abilities of this panel (I very much do) and also not because I think that big tastings are entirely pointless (there are some really good wines that were rated above 90 here). Apart from genuinely being interested in your take on this, I suppose that I just keep on finding evidence that tasting wine is a difficult and unpredictable business and even to some degree a random affair – this applies to absolutely everyone indulging in its marvels. These issues are accentuated the bigger the tasting pool becomes…

    One more observation. As a lover of wines like older Kanonkop Paul Sauers and traditionally-styled Bordeaux wines (in the Bordeaux-style context) I am concerned about the apparent inability/uninterest (despite better knowledge, resources, etc. in modern times) by most winemakers to produce wines of similar longevity and balance – even if they display a bit more austerity in their youth. Which is why I want to ask: do you think the significant drop in entries might be because some producers realise that their style is unlikely to be rewarded by this particular panel? With only three of the top wines (that scored 90+) clocking in at under a hefty 14.5% ABV (and none below 14%) it arguably doesn’t make sense for a producer with less weighty/ripe wine to enter a big tasting like this where his/her wine is likely to be overshadowed by the power of the majority. Or has the type of Bordeaux-style wine that I prefer grown so close to extinction in SA, that it reduces my question to irrelevance?

    • ChristianJune 23, 2016 at 9:06 amReplyAuthor

      Hi Kwispedoor, Regarding Vilafonté’s showing in this tasting, the issue of blind vs. sighted tastings quickly raises itself. The point about a blind tasting is that the wine is being rated on its perceived merits, not on the brand attributes, or the presumed pedigree. In the case of Series M, I rated it 87, Peens and Pietersen both 85, the wine variously described as “sweet and smooth” and “soft and juicy”. In the case of Series C, Peens and both I rated it 85 and Pietersen 81, the feeling here was that the wine was overdone – very ripe and heavily oaked. What’s interesting for me is that while the Vilafonté are obviously going to be unhappy with the actual rating, I don’t think the panel was misreading the wines. These are styled for a particular market segment that equates deluxe wine with opulence and they are very good of their type.

      How much import to place in blind tastings in general? While outcomes are not absolute, I don’t think they are entirely random either. Delaire Graff Reserve Cab 2013 top in the Prescient Cab Report and best red wine overall at Trophy Wine Show? Not a fluke. Probably worth investing in. De Compostella 2013 92 points last year and 2014 93 points this year? Not a fluke. Probably worth investing in.

      As for what wine styles will predominate, this is always in flux. Stellenbosch reds were generally thin and weedy circa the mid-1990s and arguably now are too big and bold. Watch the acclaim lavished on Swartland reds (early picking, whole bunch ferment) drive Stellenbosch in a more elegant direction.

      • KwispedoorJune 23, 2016 at 10:31 am

        Thanks, Christian. I read on Tim James’s blog that Lukas van Loggerenberg made a Stellenbosch Cab Franc at 12.5%. Cab Franc can arguably be even more susceptible to pyrazines than Cab Sauv and many others would scoff at someone harvesting this grape that early. I would love to taste that – I’m sure it won’t be remotely as nasty as most winemakers – that simply can’t seem to get their wines below the hefty 14.5% mark – would infer.

        However, it’s clear from our own history that very good wine can be made at lower ripeness levels, as long as you have a good vineyard (not everyone does) and a talented, willing winemaker. I’m rooting for visionary and passionate Stellenbosch winemakers to take this region to the next level with Bordeaux varieties, even if some will doubtlessly continue to resist any paradigm shifts.

    • Donald AckermanJune 27, 2016 at 12:13 pmReply

      Hi Kwispedoor, yes according to me you are missing something. One of the commentators said the following:

      “But however one phrases it, 81 score for a Vilafonte wine (unless faulty) is ludicrous and does not instil confidence in the overall scoring I’m afraid.”

      This is a value judgment, “however one phrases it”. By itself a value judgment extends and relates to the principles or standards of a person i.e. moral principles, ethics, moral code, morals, moral values. In other words integrity.

      Let us quickly analyse this statement and more particularly the deliberate wording used. Ludicrous means: so foolish, unreasonable, or out of place as to be amusing i.e. absurd, ridiculous, farcical, preposterous, idiotic, stupid etc.

      Instil means: gradually but firmly establish (an idea or attitude) in a person’s mind i.e. inspire, induce, persuade, promote, foster etc. Thus, if it “does not” instil: it must ruin, destroy, repress, crush, quell, quash etc.

      Confidence means: the feeling or belief that one can have faith in or trust on someone or something i.e. trust, belief, faith, conviction, reliance etc.

      Trust means: firm belief in the reliability, truth or ability of someone. In other words, if you do not have the confidence, therefore the trust, in someone you distrust them. Distrust simply means: doubt the honesty or reliability of someone.

      Now let us turn to integrity. Integrity means: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles i.e. uprightness on upstandingness, good character, decency, fairness, truthfulness, trustworthiness etc.

      Yes, I referred to some horrid critique. Horrid simply means: very unpleasant or at least disagreeable, nasty, inspiring disgust or a sense of dislike. Therefore, yes, according to me the critique, if properly analysed, firstly, was uncalled for and have a bearing on the integrity of the panel and was at least very unpleasant.

      According to me this is certainly not civil. Civil means: courteous and polite. Uncivilised means: impolite and bad mannered. This statement was certainly impolite and bad mannered.

      Kwispedoor, in August 2010 you wrote the following: “The amount of bitchy writing on SA wine blocks perplexes me. Perhaps it’s the easiest way to generate controversy and (more bitchy) comments, which might be considered of higher value in some circles than not attacking someone’s person.”

      Therefore I was quite surprised that you stated: “I also don’t see their integrity being questioned anywhere. What I do see is civil and honest debate about legitimate issues that arose from this tasting.”

      However and notwithstanding, I am not going to get involved in a long-winded “civilised debate” regarding the merits or demerits of neither the critique, your views or my argument. It’s time to move on.

      • KwispedoorJune 27, 2016 at 5:13 pm

        Donald, I saw what Greg said, but I simply understood it very differently from how you did.

        You base your argument on your interpretation that it was a “value judgement” and then you continue to define such a judgement as “By itself a value judgment extends and relates to the principles or standards of a person i.e. moral principles, ethics, moral code, morals, moral values. In other words integrity.”

        Wikipedia (admittedly not always correct) defines a value statement as “a judgment of the rightness or wrongness of something or someone, or of the usefulness of something or someone, based on a comparison or other relativity. As a generalization, a value judgment can refer to a judgment based upon a particular set of values or on a particular value system.”

        Thus, it refers to judging someone OR something. The fact that Greg didn’t mince his words in expressing his opinion didn’t make me jump to the conclusion that he meant to attack the people and not the process. Either way, I can’t speak for him and I respect you for standing up for others, so I’ll simply chalk this up to us interpreting that comment differently. :-)

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