The Six Nations Wine Challenge is an annual competition involving Australia, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA. There are six judges, one from each participating country with Michael Fridjhon representing South Africa, and each judge is set the task of selecting 100 wines across 16 classes with a maximum of 10 in any one class.
Last year, the white wine of show and overall wine of show was the Sacred Hill Riflemans Chardonnay 2016 from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand and it’s a cracker. Grapes from a 26 year-old vineyard, the wine underwent 100% malolactic fermentation after primary fermentation and maturation lasted 12 months in French oak barrels, 80% new. The nose shows citrus, struck match plus hints of vanilla and oatmeal. The palate has excellent fruit definition and a long, pithy finish. Light yet grippy, it’s a wine of unusual precision and composure (alcohol: 13%). Approximate retail price: NZ$62 (approximately R585) a bottle.
Editor’s rating: 95/100.
The red wine of show was Akarua Kolo Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015 from Central Otaao, New Zealand. The nose shows red and black cherry, violets, beetroot, earth and spice. The palate displays sweet, dense fruit – it’s a pumped-up, glossy take on the variety and you can see why it wowed the judges (alcohol: 14%). The 2016 vintage sells for NZ$85 (approximately R800) a bottle from the winery.
Editor’s rating: 92/100.
Find our South African wine ratings database here.