Is SA wine judging stuck in the past?

By , 12 August 2013



Everything changes, everything stays the same.

Everything changes, everything stays the same.

Over the weekend, I chanced across the SAA winelist for June 2000, a family member’s holiday momento.

The wines in business class were Eikendal Chardonnay 1998 and Darling Cellars Groenekloof Pinotage 1998 while the so-called premier selection wines were Villiera Sauvignon Blanc 1998 and Môreson Pinehurst Cabernet Sauvignon 1998.

The 2000 SAA Wine Selection Judges Panel was chaired by Michael Fridjhon and included Dave Hughes, Angela Lloyd, Tony Mossop, Allan Mullins, Yegas Naidoo, Jabulani Ntshangase, Neil Pendock, Christine Rudman while the international judges were James Halliday, Zelma Long, Lynne Sherriff and Ch’ng Poh Tiong.

Out of the nine local judges, Mossop died in 2005, while Naidoo and Ntshangase are no longer active in wine criticism. Otherwise, the other six are very much still shaping the debate. Time to raise the issue of succession planning again?


3 comment(s)

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    Derek Prout-Jones | 12 August 2013

    Apologies but my earlier comment did not address the issue but rather the nostalgia!
    You raise a very important question CE. Personally though, I believe the term “shaping the debate” is very broad and does not influence wine buyers across the spectrum equally. Clearly, Platters remains a very influential publication in the industry and it is my sense (without going back to prove it) that the contributors (tasters) to Platters have indeed changed over time. If this is true, then that is indeed “progress”. As a passionate wine consumer, I definitely lost my regular update as to the general SA wine landscape with the passing of the WINE magazine. Your column WIDLN remains an interesting read and no doubt plays some role in “the debate” itself. Perhaps the pertinent point is whether the tasters of yester-year have developed and even changed their palates to keep pace with the ever-evolving trends in winemaking techniques and regions (alc levels, use of oak, warm vs cool climate etc). If not, they have clearly become less relevant. I also think that we have a much greater exposure to international wines now than ever before and to that extent, businesses like Wine Cellar(who also do a great job promoting local wines) and Great Domaines play their part too (taking into account my earlier point re “across the spectrum”). Finally. I agree with Angela that social media is a huge factor, where wines can be endorsed or slated by the public at large. In conclusion, I do feel that the power base of the “shapers” is far wider today than back in 2000.

    Angela Lloyd | 12 August 2013

    Goodness, talk about long in the tooth! Seriously, I think the succession is starting to happen, judging more slowly than writing, but then it seems there are critera other than capability when it comes to appointing judges. Writing, if this term really covers how wine is communicated today, has completely changed since I started. Bloggers and even tweeters have their own realm of influence, so the shape of shaping the debate is constantly on the move. That said, I do think that issues can and need to be tackled with a degree of depth, within the constraints of the blog and readers’ short attention span.

    Derek Prout-Jones | 12 August 2013

    I remember that very winelist…it was during the heyday of my peripatetic job. I learnt a lot about SA wines during my travels on SAA back then. There was no doubt that the wines were well chosen and interesting. Often the crew were quite knowledgeable about the winelist as well. Truly a forgotten era.

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