A dilemma for consumers: ★or ♥?

Neil Pendock October 31, 2012 23

So now the Halloween cat is well and truly out of the bag after the Platter Guide released their annual list of 62 five wines last night at the Vineyard Hotel.  The ★★★★★ wines come from a shortlist nominated sighted by the tasters.  Aníbal Coutinho and I tasted over 2000 wines blind in their home appellations and came up with a list of 147 ♥♥♥♥♥ wines.  Ten differences between the Platter planetarium and our five heart heroes from Neil Pendock’s Winelands Guide 2013 listed here.

A Swartland heart at Bar Bar Black Sheep

  1. John Platter no longer tastes for the guide, having been replaced by a committee of nearly two dozen tasters including importers, educationalists, sommeliers, commentators and retailers.  Neil Pendock is himself and Aníbal Coutinho, winemaker and buyer for Portuguese supermarket chain Continente.
  2. Pendock insists on tasting blind.  Platter tastes sighted, recommends a handful for the ultimate honour and then re-tastes them blind and calls it a blind tasting.
  3. Platter has wines shipped at producer’s expense to tasters.  Pendock travels to appellations and tastes them in situ, even paying wine routes to organize blind tastings, in some cases.
  4. Platter accepts paid-for advertisements from restaurants, B&Bs, retailers and producers; Pendock does not.
  5. Platter accepts wines made from grapes grown in multiple appellations.  In a quest to pin down regionality, an important component of terroir; Pendock does not.
  6. Platter rates non-vintage wines; Pendock does not as the consumer has no way of knowing which one was tasted.
  7. Platter rates tank and barrel samples; Pendock does not as the consumer has no way of knowing if the finished wine will taste like the sample.
  8. Apart from a good-value swoosh, Platter disregards retail prices; Pendock ranks wines within an appellation by price.
  9. Platter gives  ★★★★★ to a couple of CWG Auction wines which is totally ridiculous as the auction is ancient history and the wines are not commercially available; Pendock does not.
  10. Platter is sponsored by Diners Club.  Pendock is not.
Those ♥♥♥♥♥ wines:
  • Allée Bleue Shiraz 2010 from Franschhoek.
  • Allesverloren Tinta Barocca 2009 from the Swartland.
  • Almenkerk Chardonnay 2011 from Elgin.
  • Altydgedacht The Ollo White Blend 2011 from Durbanville.
  • Alvi’s Drift Chardonnay 2011 from Breedekloof.
  • Annexkloof Red Blend 2007 from the Swartland.
  • Annexkloof SMG Red Blend 2010 from the Swartland.
  • Arendsig Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 from Robertson.
  • Ashbourne Sandstone White Blend 2007 from Hemel & Aarde.
  • Avondrood Shiraz 2009 from Breedekloof.
  • Axe Hill Machado Red Blend 2011 from the Klein Karoo.
  • Bellpost Shiraz 2008 from Namaqualand.
  • Bergsig The Family Friend Red Blend 2011 from Breedekloof.
  • Boland Five Climates Chenin Blanc 2012 from Paarl.
  • Boplaas Cape Tawny Port 1995 from the Klein Karoo.
  • Bosman Optenhorst Chenin Blanc 2009 from Wellington.
  • Bosman Optenhorst Chenin Blanc 2011 from Wellington.
  • Brennaissance King of Clubs Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from Stellenbosch.
  • Cederberg Five Generations Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from the Cederberg.
  • Chamonix Chardonnay 2011 from Franschhoek.
  • Chamonix Pinot Noir 2010 from Franschhoek.
  • Constantia Uitsig Sémillon 2011 from Constantia.
  • Constantia Uitsig White 2011 from Constantia.
  • D’Aria Red Blend 2010 from Durbanville.
  • Darling Cellars Lime Kilns White Blend 2010 from Darling.
  • De Grendel Merlot 2009 from Durbanville.
  • De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve 2008 from the Klein Karoo.
  • De Toren Fusion V Red Blend 2010 from Stellenbosch.
  • De Toren Z Red Blend 2010 from Stellenbosch.
  • De Trafford Chenin Blanc 2011 from Stellenbosch.
  • De Trafford Shiraz 2010 from Stellenbosch.
  • De Wetshof Finesse Chardonnay 2010 from Robertson.
  • Deetlefs Hanepoot 2009 from Breedekloof.
  • Diemersfontein Carpe Diem Malbec 2010 from Wellington.
  • Diemersfontein Viognier 2011 from Wellington.
  • Domaine des Dieux Chardonnay 2010 from Hemel & Aarde.
  • Domaine des Dieux Red Blend 2010 from Hemel & Aarde.
  • Druk My Niet Invictus Red Blend 2009 from Paarl.
  • Eagle’s Cliff Arendskloof Pinot Grigio 2012 from Breedekloof.
  • Eagle’s Nest Little Eagle Red Blend 2010 from Constantia.
  • Eagle’s Nest Verreaux Red Blend 2009 from Constantia.
  • Esona Shiraz 2010 from Robertson.
  • Fairview Beacon Shiraz 2009 from Paarl.
  • Fairview Eenzaamheid Shiraz 2010 from Paarl.
  • Fairview Nurok White Blend 2011 from Paarl.
  • Fairview Primo Pinotage 2010 from Paarl.
  • Gabrielskloof Five Arches Red Blend 2008 from Bot River.
  • Gabrielskloof The Blend Red Blend 2010 from Bot River.
  • Gabrielskloof Viognier 2010 from Bot River.
  • Glen Carlou Grand Classique Red Blend 2009 from Paarl.
  • Glen Carlou Gravel Quarry Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 from Paarl.
  • Glen Carlou Quartz Stone Chardonnay 2010 from Paarl.
  • Goedvertrouw Pinot Noir 2009 from Bot River.
  • Graham Beck Cuvée Clive 2007 from Robertson.
  • Graham Beck MCC Rosé 2009 from Robertson.
  • Graham Beck The Ridge Syrah 2009 from Robertson.
  • Grand vin de Glenelly Chardonnay 2011 from Stellenbosch.
  • Grande Provence Red Blend 2007 from Franschhoek.
  • Groote Post Pinot Noir 2009 from Darling.
  • Guardian Peak Lapa Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from Stellenbosch.
  • Guardian Peak SMG Red Blend 2010 from Stellenbosch.
  • Haut Espoir Shiraz 2006 from Franschhoek.
  • Jacques Bruére Cuveé Rosé 2006 from Robertson.
  • Jordan Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2010 from Stellenbosch.
  • Jordan Nine Yards Chardonnay 2011 from Stellenbosch.
  • Jordan The Outlier Sauvignon Blanc 2009 from Stellenbosch.
  • Kanonkop Pinotage 2010 from Stellenbosch.
  • Karusa Terre Noire Shiraz 2011 from the Klein Karoo.
  • Kasteelberg Chenin Blanc 2010 from the Swartland.
  • Klein Constantia Perdeblokke Sauvignon Blanc 2010 from Constantia.
  • Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2007 from Constantia.
  • Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from Stellenbosch.
  • Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from Stellenbosch.
  • La Vierge Pinot Noir 2010 from Hemel & Aarde.
  • La Vigne Shiraz 2007 from Franschhoek.
  • Landau du Val Sémillon 2008 from Franschhoek.
  • Lanzerac le General Red Blend 2008 from Stellenbosch.
  • Lemberg Surin Sauvignon Blanc 2011 from Tulbagh.
  • Lothian Vineyards Chardonnay 2011 from Elgin.
  • Lutzville Diamond Collection Chenin (wood) 2011 from Namaqualand.
  • Lutzville Diamond Collection Shiraz 2010 from Namaqualand.
  • Major’s Hill Shiraz 2008 from Robertson.
  • Meerendal Chenin Blanc Natural Sweet 2009 from Durbanville.
  • Mellasat Chardonnay 2010 from Paarl.
  • Mellasat Tuinwyn Chenin Blanc Straw Wine 2010 from Paarl.
  • Merwida Sauvignon Blanc 2012 from Breedekloof.
  • Mimosa Shiraz 2011 from Robertson.
  • Mont du Toit Mont du Toit Red Blend 2007 from Wellington.
  • Morgenhof Red Blend 2005 from Stellenbsoch.
  • Morgenster White Blend 2011 from Stellenbosch.
  • Namaqua Wines Spencer Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 from Namaqualand.
  • Nicolas Charles Krone Marque I from Tulbagh.
  • Oak Valley Chardonnay 2011 from Elgin.
  • Oak Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2011 from Elgin.
  • Oldenburg Cabernet Franc 2009 from Stellenbosch.
  • Oldenburg Vineyards Chardonnay 2011 from Stellenbosch.
  • Oldenburg Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2011 from Stellenbosch.
  • Ormonde Ondine Cabernet Franc 2008 from Darling.
  • Palesa Chenin Blanc 2012 from Breedekloof.
  • Paul Cluver Riesling NLH 2011 from Elgin.
  • Prospect Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 from Robertson.
  • Pulpit Rock Shiraz 2009 from the Swartland.
  • Rhebokskloof Red Blend 2010 from Paarl.
  • Rickety Bridge Chardonnay 2011 from Franschhoek.
  • Rickety Bridge Sémillon 2008 from Franschhoek.
  • Riebeek Cellars Rosé 2012 from the Swartland.
  • Rietvallei Classic Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 from Robertson.
  • Rietvallei Classic Estate Pinot Noir 2010 from Robertson.
  • Rietvallei Special Select Esteanna Red Blend 2009 from Robertson.
  • Rijk’s Touch of Oak Chenin Blanc 2010 from Tulbagh.
  • Rust en Vrede 1694 Classification Red Blend 2007 from Stellenbosch.
  • Rust en Vrede Estate Red Blend 2009 from Stellenbosch.
  • Rust en Vrede Shiraz 2010 from Stellenbosch.
  • Rust en Vrede Single Vineyard Shiraz 2009 from Stellenbosch.
  • Rustenberg Five Soldiers Chardonnay 2010 from Stellenbosch.
  • Rustenberg Peter Barlow Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from Stellenbosch.
  • Saxenburg Private Collection Merlot 2009 from Stellenbosch.
  • Shannon Vineyards Mount Bullet Merlot 2010 from Elgin.
  • Shannon Vineyards Rockview Ridge Pinot Noir 2011 from Elgin.
  • Sir Lambert Sauvignon Blanc 2012 from Namaqualand.
  • Spioenkop “1900” Sauvignon Blanc 2011 from Elgin.
  • Springfield Methode Ancienne Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 from Robertson.
  • Springfield Methode Ancienne Chardonnay 2009 from Robertson.
  • Stark-Condé Oude Nektar Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 from Stellenbosch.
  • Stark-Condé Three Pines Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from Stellenbosch.
  • Sumaridge Maritimus White Blend 2010 from Hemel & Aarde.
  • Swartland Winery Bush Vines Shiraz 2010 from the Swartland.
  • The Berrio Sauvignon Blanc 2011 from Elim.
  • Thelema Rabelais Red Blend 2008 from Stellenbosch.
  • Thelema Reserve Merlot 2009 from Stellenbosch.
  • Thelema Sutherland Red Blend 2009 from Elgin.
  • Thelema The Mint Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from Stellenbosch.
  • Veenwouden Classic Red Blend 2009 from Paarl.
  • Veenwouden Merlot 2011 from Paarl.
  • Villiera Monro Brut 2007 from Stellenbosch.
  • Vrede en Lust Artisan Chenin Blanc 2011 from Elgin.
  • Vrede en Lust Barrique White Blend 2011 from Elgin.
  • Waboomsrivier Arborea Red Blend 2010 from Breedekloof.
  • Warwick Trilogy Red Blend 2009 from Stellenbosch.
  • Waterkloof Circle of Life White Blend 2011 from Stellenbosch.
  • Waterkloof Circumstance Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from Stellenbosch.
  • Waterkloof Circumstance Chenin Blanc 2011 from Stellenbosch.
  • Webersburg Sauvignon Blanc 2011 from Stellenbosch.
  • Wildekrans Reserve Pinotage 2010 from Bot River.
  • Wildekrans Shiraz 2009 from Bot River.
  • Windfall Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from Robertson.
  • Yonder Hill Merlot 2009 from Stellenbosch.


  1. jamie g October 31, 2012 at 3:10 am -

    Think Platter’s 5* list is a lot better than yours. Sorry.

  2. Neil Pendock October 31, 2012 at 3:18 am -

    Well Jamie, it’s one heck of a lot better than your own hopeless Top 100 SA Wines! How many did you taste? As many as 400 I hear.

    I seriously doubt if you have tasted most of the wines on my list. Your comment is ignorant and does you no credit.

  3. harry October 31, 2012 at 7:40 am -

    No Mullineux? No Sadie? No Badenhorst? Did you not taste these wines? I find it very hard to believe your story about pinning down regionality when you don’t have wines – that are clearly worthy of five stars – whose winemakers strive for an expression of regionality.

    I very much doubt anybody is upset that you have your own wine guide, but the constant need to deride Platter is tiresome. Shamelessly plugging your book in this column also doesn’t seem quite right.

    Do you think the Platter five star wines are not worthy of the accolade? I’d love to hear you explain why, wine by wine rather than the hear the same old, oft-repeated and worn out whine “but platter’s not blind”. We know. That’s how it works, and judging by thw wines I tasted last night, it’s working pretty well.

  4. Johan October 31, 2012 at 8:12 am -

    Wow Neil – amazing list! Thanks.

  5. Lisa October 31, 2012 at 8:31 am -

    Interesting. I’m just a wine lover but always thought Platters over rated. Here there are lots of new cellars to visit and affordable wines to taste.

  6. Neil Pendock October 31, 2012 at 8:53 am -

    Harry, we only included wines we liked. We don’t know the identities of the ones we didn’t, so don’t know the answer to your questions.

    We tasted well over 100 Swartland wines – the tasting was put together by the Swartland Wine Route from WO Swartland wines. We had no input in what was tasted.

    I’m not deriding Platter – just pointing out where we differ.

  7. Marc van Halderen October 31, 2012 at 9:38 am -

    Tasted blind and the truth has come out… La Vierge Noir 2010 Hemel en Aarde Ridge is a beauty! Thanks Neil for the effort in tasting and compilation. cheers Marc

  8. Dan October 31, 2012 at 11:20 am -


    Isn’t it a tad hypocritical to criticise the Top 100 list for only tasting from a small sample of wines when, as you appear to admit, your guide did exactly the same?

    You write: “We only included wines we liked. We don’t know the identities of the ones we didn’t”.

    This gives the impression that you conducted an exhaustive blind tasting of every, or nearly every, SA wine but only bothered to establish the identities of the ones you liked. The ones that weren’t to your fancy you presumably binned without even bothering to find out who made them.

    Is this, in fact, what you did? Doesn’t it indicate a bizarre lack of curiosity on your part?

    Also, if this is indeed what you did, how does it square with your boast that you “travelled to appellations and tasted them in situ”.

    It is extremely hard for me to imagine that you sat, say, in Jordan’s tasting room, drank some wine, but yet had no idea whose wine you were drinking?

    Do please explain further.

    As Harry says, your points about the Platter guide’s problems are valid ones. But they are old. And it doesn’t seem to me that your latest offer is any more worthy than theirs.

  9. Neil Pendock October 31, 2012 at 11:28 am -

    Hi Dan

    Thanks for the comment. We did not taste in Jordan’s tasting room. We blind tasted all the Stellenbosch wines presented to us (around 400) by the Stellenbosch Wine Route at their venue.

    We tasted well over five times as many wines as Top 100 SA Wines did and we didn’t charge a hefty entry fee.

    We do not plan to report on wines we did not like as this is a guide for consumers and not for the industry. We invited producers to attend our tastings and next year plan to make a video of our comments for their feedback.

    Where are the negative Platter comments in all of this? I tasted for Platter for five years and on the basis of this experience, do not think sighted is the way to go. It is my opinion and you’re welcome to disagree.

  10. Fanny Cradock October 31, 2012 at 11:46 am -

    Dear Mr Pendock, just between you and I, when Johnny was alive we tasted everything blind… here is a product I highly recommend for all of your lovely South African wine professionals :


    After young Heston’s tampon innovations last week, I do think we might now apply an entirely fresh approach to wine tasting… all power to you Mr Pendock for raising this sensitive subject…

    Must dash as I have some puff pastry rising in the oven – ttfn 😉

  11. jamie g October 31, 2012 at 1:00 pm -

    Neil, it is not *my* top 100 competition. I am just a judge. I have no commercial involvement. But I do think the top 100 results have been pretty good over the last two years, and that the judging of the competition is first rate. But that’s not what we are discussing here. You have put the boot into Platter consistently on your blog, but Platter is a great asset for the SA wine industry IMHO.

  12. Neil Pendock October 31, 2012 at 2:07 pm -

    Hi Jamie

    Agree that Platter has its uses – I used to taste for them for five years or so. Just that given the current judging line-up of importers, retailers, etc. not fair. SA wine deserves way better.


    Did you tell WOSA that you’re not an MW yet?

  13. Hannes October 31, 2012 at 3:47 pm -

    Did Harry get out of the wrong side of his car this morning? He’s becoming the Whale Cottage of wine!

  14. Nix October 31, 2012 at 3:52 pm -

    I think that there is a place for both these guides in the industry. At the end of the day it is all about the promotion of wine as a category and if one or both of these guides get people excited about wine, great!

  15. Simon Cowell October 31, 2012 at 7:25 pm -

    Hey Neil, here is something for those overseas wine writers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2s4slliAtQU

  16. Simon Cowell October 31, 2012 at 7:28 pm -

    P.S. could this work Neil ? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9r2pEdc1_lI

  17. Mary November 1, 2012 at 11:23 am -

    Dear Mr.Pendock,
    Here’s the Troll Anthem for your troll followers.


  18. Neil Pendock November 1, 2012 at 11:50 am -

    Thanks Mary

    Have blocked the Trolls on Twitter, so hopefully they’ll pick this up from the blog. The words may present a challenge, but sure they’ll pick up the tune…

  19. Simon Cowell November 2, 2012 at 1:08 pm -

    I signed Mr Trololo shortly before he passed away early this year.. sadly, his lyrical dexterity will no longer grace the airwaves but I do have this memorable clip from ‘Family Guy’ which allegedly shows assorted wine writers and WOSA board members displaying their vocal prowess…

    Perhaps they could enter ‘Choir of the Year’ ?

    Any thoughts Mr Pendock ?


  20. johannesW@yahoo.com November 2, 2012 at 1:30 pm -

    Dear Simon

    Seems that the late lamented Mr. Trololo has been reincarnated as the Feltham freebie fiend, Jamie Goodie.

  21. Simon Cowell November 2, 2012 at 10:11 pm -

    Hey Jo ! maybe your friend could have a stab at this ‘Platter’ classic ?


  22. Fanny Cradock November 2, 2012 at 10:18 pm -

    Oh Simon darling, come along now… surely we could go for something more upbeat ?

    Might I suggest one of Johnny’s favourites ?


  23. Simon Cowell November 2, 2012 at 10:39 pm -

    Hey Johannes !

    Perhaps your friend could have a stab at this ‘Platter’ classic ?


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