History was made at Kleine Zalze in Stellenbosch today at a blind tasting of 95 wines from ten producers for the largest liquor retailer in SA: Tops at Spar. While final details are under lock down, the result is a triumph for corks in a month in which confidence in natural closures was shaken by bizarre reports that 2/3 of the whites at the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show exhibited one or other cork defect. As Business Day reported “a staggering 66% of the cork-closed white wines [were] ruined by closure.”
Well the Spar experience today was exactly the opposite. Only a single re-pour was requested for a cork-closed wine (and that was a red bottle) out of the 25 submitted with corks as opposed to 70 screw caps – and that problem was volatile acidity. When it came to the top 16 wines, nine were closed by cork and seven by screw cap yet overall, only one quarter of entries were cork closed translating into a massive quality out-performance of natural closures over screw cap. The message for SA producers is clear.
Another myth – that SA whites are better than reds – was exploded as fully five of the top six wines were red and there were 10 reds in the top 16. The best four wines were all red with Cabernet Sauvignon dominating the field.
Tasters were convenor Tinus van Niekerk and writers Samarie Smith, Melvyn Minnaar, Christian Eedes (who was also a Trophy Wine Show judge) and yours truly. The whole process is the brainchild of Spar liquor executive Mark Robinson who is owed a debt of gratitude by the industry for exploding two sacred cows munching contentedly in the national vineyard.