wines elite living africaLeft to Right: Paul Cluver Seven Flags, The FMC 2014 Single Barrel. A recent wine tasting event by Wine Cellar – Fine wine merchants saw 74 tasters assemble in Cape Town and Johannesburg to hosted their second luxury white wine taste-off

Ten of South Africa's most expensive and luxurious wines were blind-tasted and they were ranked in order of their favourite to least favourite wines.

The results from Johannesburg were combined with those from Cape Town and the live announcement was made to tasters in both cities over Skype and on social media.

Once every two years, the event draws in wine-lovers in South Africa who play a deciding role in determining SA’s top luxury wines from a selection of ten of the country’s finest at each event, priced at up to R2000 a bottle.

Wine Cellar - Fine wine merchants and expert palates Roland Peens and James Pietersen once again hosted the sought-after premium white wine tasting event in both Johannesburg and Cape Town on the 7th of March to define what really makes a luxury wine. The luxury red wine tasting will take place on the 18th of April in the same format. 

Roland Peens, director of wine cellar – Fine wine merchants about this year’s pick of the luxury white wine crop. 

The luxury white wine tasting line-up:

Three years ago, Ken Forrestor’s FMC 2012 stole the show as SA’s top luxury white. Hosting big names such as Vergelegen, Hamilton Russell, Jordan and Alheit Vineyards, the old-vine Chenin Blanc was the overwhelming winner. The average price of the wines in 2015 was R 465 per bottle.

In 2018, the average price of the line-up jumped to a whopping R 754 per bottle and most of the names from the 2015 tasting were now considered ‘too affordable’. The tasting hosted new labels such as Leeu Passant, Delaire Graaff and Spier, all of which have released highly priced and luxurious new wines. All of SA’s most expensive wines were listed except for a few small cuvées, rare wines that Wine Cellar felt were not positioned as luxurious. This included the likes of the Sadie Family’s 800-bottle cuvée Mev. Kirsten and Richard Kershaw’s CY96 Chardonnay.

The results:

As expected, the two richest wines in the line-up, containing the largest components of new oak, were the two most-favoured wines. The FMC has residual sugar of 8g/l which was by far the highest in the tasting.

Surprisingly, three more elegant wines from Paul Cluver, Sadie Family and Uva Mira rounded out the top 5. The Paul Cluver wine showed fine Burgundian-like elegance and the Sadie Family wines, along with the FMC, were the only wines that have been produced for longer than 10 years.

The last four wines were arguably the lightest and most delicate wines. They showed the most savoury components and the least fruit. While all are highly regarded, perhaps they would have performed better on their own or with more time in the glass.

Similar numbers of tasters were present in each city, with the biggest difference perhaps being the composition of the crowds. While there were almost no wine trade professionals in Johannesburg, 30-40 per cent of the Cape Town tasters present work in the wine trade. Interestingly, this didn’t impact the results heavily.

Johannesburg top 3:

1.     Ken Forrester, FMC Single Barrel 2014 – R 700

2.     Capensis, Chardonnay 2014 – R 950

3.     Sadie Family, Palladius 2015 – R 725

Cape Town top 3:

1.     Capensis, Chardonnay 2014 – R 950

2.     Ken Forrester, FMC Single Barrel 2014 – R 700

3.     Paul Cluver, Seven Flags Chardonnay 2016 – R 610

Overall results:

1.     Capensis, Chardonnay 2014 – R 950

2.     Ken Forrester, FMC Single Barrel 2014 – R 700