“Bright idea!” I thought as I read the Australian Ambassador’s invitation to participate in the first
New World Wine Challenge in Lima, Peru. It would be an informal get-together where we would
conduct a do blind tastings and get to know one another’s wines. Nothing serious!
Each participating Ambassador had to provide three bottles of red wine and three bottles of white
wine of his/her choice. South Africa, Chile and the USA accepted Australia’s challenge.
So when the South African trade delegation visited Lima in May 2015, one of the participants,
Grant Newton, Sales & Marketing Manager for Groot Constantia, was kindly requested if he
could kindly provide the Embassy with the required necessary wines. Grant graciously obliged.
Soon wonderful news was received that three bottles of both Groot Constantia Shiraz 2013 and
Groot Constantia Chardonnay 2013 were on their way to Lima, Peru. We thought we were set,
ready for battle, since both these wines had won “Best in the world” in their grape varieties.
However, a week before the competition, participants were informed that the rules of the game
had changed. Each participating Ambassador now had to provide four bottles of a specific wine.
We thought we had been stumped: we only had three bottles, no more. Aussie rules, I thought.
Fortunately the regular author of this post, Andy Rompel, had during 2014 introduced and made
available to his friend and wine connoisseur, Firdaus Madon, a few precious bottles of Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon 2010.
Having first-hand knowledge of the high quality wines the competing countries have available and also some experience of blind wine-tasting events,.
Firdaus understood that nothing less than SA’s finest wines would save South Africa’s pride. So
he made the sacrifice and donated his last four bottles of Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
towards the noble cause. The Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon was one of several top South African wines we imported last year into Peru.
On the evening of 18 June, wine authors/journalists, sommeliers, diplomats, wine importers and
wine connoisseurs gathered at the elegant boutique hotel, simply named the Hotel B, located in
Barranco, Lima. The visiting owner, Susana De la Puente, who lives in New York, was brimming
with joy at the opportunity to host such a lavish event on her premises. and even more so
when she found thatout that, not long after a her recent trip across the Atlantic to attend a 40th
birthday party at a wine estate in Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa, she would have
one of those marvelously rich & full-bodied South African wines that she had tasted whilst on
the African continent, competing right here in her hotel. The outlook was good.
The wine tasting was done under the watchful eyes of wine author of “Dos Mujerescientos de
viños” Soledad Marroquín Muñoz and Jorge Jiménez Garavito, renowned Peruvian sommelier,
wine specialist as well as Pisco expert.
Each country assembled a team of around 10 notable wine connoisseurs who quite startlingly
for Peru, all arrived around the allocated meeting time, which is no mean feat given the
condensed traffic one has to negotiate during the Lima rush-hours. All participants were met by
one of Lady Susana De la Puente’s well -trained staff and politely ushered to the wine tasting
gallery, an elegant venue lined by carefully pruned sprightly green shrubs, high-end abstract art
and warmly cast lighting which immediately gave any visitor a sensation of relaxed comfort and
The evening kicked off in sparkling manner with a refreshingly tall glass of champagne.
Soon the soft hub of polite introduction and background conversation became a murmur, subdued at first but then more intense, happy, delightful and
joyous report which, had it not been for the pending wine tasting, which of course meant that
some semblance of purity should be maintained, may in a short while have become rather jubilant dare I say!
In timely fashion the hosts to the evening, his Excellency, the Australian Ambassador Nicholas
McCaffrey in the company of his elegantly dressed wife, name, called the meeting to order and
after a brief explanation of how the evening would proceed, the first wine was presented! And
so followed the pouring and blind-tasting of the 4 choice red wines from the United States,
Chile, Australia and South Africa. A simple ranking ranging from “1” for “average” to “5” for
“magnificent”, very much along established lines for categories bouquet, body, taste, then the
subsequent total which could maximize on “15” for individual categories!
Scorecards were collected and then the moment of truth: what perhaps seemed like an overly languid countdown through the
ranks, and then finally Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 was announced the overall winner
by the Australian Ambassador! The United States came second.
Watch this space – this is just the beginning of SA wine in Latin America. When notified of the
glorious victory by letter written by Her Excellency, the Ambassador of SA to Peru, Johann Krige
decided to visit Peru instantaneously, presumably in November this year. He will be given a
winner’s reception, surely!
And for the graceful lady Susana De la Puente, what astonishment after her wonderful
experiences in the Western Cape, that a Stellenbosch wine won the New World Wine Challenge
in Peru at an event hosted at her Hotel B!