RisCura White Hot Wine Awards 2015 results

September 2, 2015
by Christian
in News, Special Projects
with 5 Comments

RisCura White Hot Wine Awards logoResults of the third annual RisCura White Hot Wine Awards are now out. This involved putting together a line-up of 30 Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon blends from 21 South African producers, either currently available or soon to be released, and then undertaking a blind tasting.

The 2011 vintage from renowned Pessac-Léognan producer Domaine de Chevalier was included in the line-up as a ringer and while this scored a respectable 91 points, there were number of South African wines to rate more highly on the day.

Wines to rate 90 points or higher were as follows:


Mulderbosch Faithful Hound 2013
Wine Cellar price: R145

Buy This Wine


Constantia Glen Two 2014
Wine Cellar price: R210

Buy This Wine
Nitida Coronata Integration 2014
Price: R165

Buy This Wine


Oak Valley Mountain Reserve 2011
Price: Not yet released

Tokara Director’s Reserve 2014
Price: R240

Vergelegen G.V.B. 2013
Price: Not yet released


Domaine de Chevalier Blanc 2011
Price: R1 300

Buy This Wine
Highlands Road Sine Cera 2013
Price: R130

Gabriëlskloof Magdalena 2013
Price: R120

Strandveld Adamastor 2012
Wine Cellar price: R165

Buy This Wine
Trizanne Signature Wines Sauvignon Blanc Semilon Reserve 2014
Wine Cellar price: R165

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Constantia Uitsig Constantia 2013
Price:  R125

Strandveld Adamastor 2013
Wine Cellar price: R165

Buy This Wine

As producer of the best wine overall, Mulderbosch won a new 225-litre barrel from Tonnellerie Sylvain.

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

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

To find out more about RisCura, CLICK HERE.

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  1. ChristianSeptember 3, 2015 at 8:49 amReplyAuthor

    Hi Will and Elias, Tasting note for Magna Carta 2012: Deep yellow in colour. Pyrazine-driven – notes of gravel-road dustiness, fresh herbs, thatch and even ashtray on the nose. Some citrus but also a nutty quality suggesting premature oxidation. Two bottles opened, second bottle a touch fresher.

    Tasting note for Magna Carta 2013: Pyrazine-driven: Green bean, thatch and ashtray as well as lime, peach and white pepper. Rich and full but a bit shy.

    I’ve followed Magna Carta since the maiden-vintage 2007 and it is a particularly changeable wine, which is to say any particular vintage goes through awkward phases only to re-emerge further down the line looking great.

    • KwispedoorSeptember 3, 2015 at 10:55 amReply

      Hi, Christian

      It’s a particular trait of Sauvignon Blanc to have ups and downs in the bottle. I’m sure you’re aware of this and also that certain styles of Sauvignon and Bordeaux-style blends just simply don’t tend to show their true colours when they’re still young. Isliedh and Magne Carta would be two cases in point (no pun intended).

      Most of the wines in this line-up would do well with a few years’ maturation, but some of them show well in their youth too, which must certainly give them an advantage in panel tastings.

      Conceding and allowing for the particular fluctuations of in-bottle Magna Carta, I’m not sure that wines with perceptible pyrazines have a great chance to shine at tastings like these. I’m trying to mostly side-step the well-trodden pyrazine debate here – it’s more about the vision, preferences and directives of tasting panels. In itself, there’s of course nothing wrong with personal preference of individual tasters – it’s their right and it’s all cool – but am I correct in saying that all three panel members (all of whom I have great respect for, by the way) are, on a personal level, generally against pyrazine character in wine? If that is even only roughly true then, coupled with the fact that the tasting directive was not to reward wines that shows overt pyrazine character, wines that show ANY pyrazine character would surely make a red flag go up in a comparative tasting like this, if you think about it.

      I get the impression that you guys want to influence producers to move away from overt pyrazine character. On the face of it, that is not necessarily a bad thing for the industry (just look at the wealth of exciting, textured, black curranty wines that have emerged recently), although personally I would be keen to see all styles rewarded, as long as the wine is truly excellent and balanced.

      The problem with panel directions are that a single feature of a really good wine can sometimes be amplified to the wine’s detriment. The Magna Carta is nowadays generally a bit less pyraziney than in previous years and sitting down to a vertical tasting of it will likely produce a different result…

      Generally, I’m a fan of panels with a healthy dose of heterogeneity, with a directive to bring their experience to the table to reward excellence, balance and personality, regardless of style. I’d rather take the problems that come with that (the averaging out effect, trying to tie-break polarising stalemates, etc.), but all tastings have at least some imperfect issues, right?

      • ChristianSeptember 4, 2015 at 12:32 pmAuthor

        Hi Kwispedoor, It’s not that the all three panel members are “generally against pyrazine character in wine” so much as we want to reward wines of balance and complexity – wines that are overtly “green” might be striking but are very often not balanced or particularly nuanced.

        That said, I think wine quality is a matter of negotiated meaning – we are all involved in an ongoing discussion about what constitutes a good wine and there are subtle modifications one way or another over time.

        If anything, I find myself becoming more tolerant of pyrazines than I have been for a while. When we judged the Bordeaux-style reds, I expected wines showing green character to be much more of an issue than it was. A far bigger problem is wines that are over-ripe, over-extracted and over-oaked. I was reminded that pyrazines can bring aromatic lift and the impression of freshness and are definitely not to be dismissed out of hand.

        As for the white blends, it is again a matter of degree and I think the best wines manage to combine both pyrazine and thiol character.

        As to how much influence we wield over either producer or consumer, I’m not expecting anybody to follow our prescriptions slavishly but we are trying to facilitate the debate. For me, the issue of overt pyrazine is not simply an aesthetic matter but suggests imprecise viticulture (issues of row alignment, canopy management and so on being at stake).

        I take your point that a panel obsessing about one particular aesthetic issue can make misguided assessments but that is the nature of the game – new-wave Cinsaut is all the rage because of its perfume and freshness but do the examples to date have sufficient structure to be considered great?

        Lastly, I would like to address your point regarding the need for panels to have a “healthy dose of heterogeneity”. This is all very well in theory but in my experience leads to a situation of rewarding “safe” wines – anything which sits at a stylistic extreme divides the panel and gets left behind. By having the same panel of myself, Peens and Pietersen, I’m trying to ensure 1) some kind of aesthetic consistency from one tasting to the next and 2) that by combining our hopefully not inconsiderable knowledge and experience, we reward the very best.

  2. eliasSeptember 3, 2015 at 6:23 amReply

    Magna Carta getting 85 for both vintages and just under 1k a bottle? Were these wines not up to the task or was this due to high and low scores on the panel? Thanks Christian.

  3. WillSeptember 2, 2015 at 4:37 pmReply

    Magna Carta 2012 and 2013 both only scoring 85? Any reason or possible explanation for this?

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