The Christian Eedes Top 10’s are the crème de la crème of the variety in South Africa. The competition is by invitation only. He selects top performers from other well known wine competitions and fills the balance of the 60 entries with wines which he feels should be considered.
The 3 judges spend a day blind judging the wines using the 20 points system. The results are independently audited and the top 10 scores become the top 10. The points dictate if they are 4, 4½ or 5 star.
This is the 3rd year of the competition so consistent performers are starting to reveal themselves. Rickety Bridge has had a cabernet in the top 10 for 3 years. Thelema and Waterford have had a cabernet in the top 10 for 2 years and Kleine Zalze appears again after featuring on the 2012 list.
There were two 5 star cabernets, Rustenberg Peter Barlow 2009 (no price information) and Waterford 2011 (R175).
Winning 4½ stars:
- Knorhoek Pantére 2011 (R130)
- Rickety Bridge Paulina’s Reserve 2011 (R195)
- Spier Woolworths Reserve 2011 (R129.95)
- Spier Woolworths The Hutton Single Vineyard 2012 (R129.95)
- Thelema 2010 (R185)
- Warwick Blue Lady 2010 (R215)
And 4 stars for Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2009 (no price information) and Oldenburg Vineyards 2011 (no price information).
Christian Eedes says of the competition:
What we are seeing is local winemakers displaying a far greater understanding of the wine styles being demanded by both critics and consumers is. Under-ripe, weedy, astringent wines are no longer permissible and these are hardly in evidence any more.
Winemakers are going in pursuit of fruit and less aggressive tannins and, simply put, this means picking riper and working smarter in the cellar – open up the canopy and take the fruit off the vine late and then make the appropriate acidity and pH adjustments in the cellar, perhaps even lower the alcohol by volume.
Get all of the above right and the end-result is a wine with sumptuous fruit but not short of freshness or tannic structure. Get it wrong and the wines become overdone. The warm climate growing conditions that South Africa enjoys mean there really is no reason for wines to be short of fruit but where we do seem to struggle is when it comes to tannin management, too many of the wines being over-extracted and then over-oaked to boot.
The very best wines show fruit purity, acidity which is not hard or spiky and firm but fine tannins. The wines that over-reach themselves tend to show ultra-ripe or dead fruit, appear excessively big and thick textured and have those smooth yet somehow excessively drying tannins which come from overambitious extraction. More gentleness of touch will see the category become even stronger.
For more information you can download the full report with rankings and tasting notes of all 60 wines at Christian Eedes’ website, What I Drank Last Night.