Judging Veritas

Behind The Scenes at Veritas
August 20, 2007
Two Leaders Share Veritas Limelight
September 15, 2007
Behind The Scenes at Veritas
August 20, 2007
Two Leaders Share Veritas Limelight
September 15, 2007

Judging Veritas

“I was so lucky to sit on the Sauvignon Blanc panel, because 2007 must have been the best vintage ever for South African Sauvignons,” said Michael Vaughan, experienced wine consultant based in Toronto in Canada who also writes for the National Post and publishes a wine buying guide, Vintage Assessments.

“The dramatic difference in styles we saw when judging the wines, just shows the philosophy of the different winemakers – how they pick, the crops and the grapes. The wines we tasted were fresh and vibrant and my favourite wine was a barrel fermented Sauvignon. I can’t wait to find out what wine that was,” he added enthusiastically. “I’m going to make sure that wine goes to Canada.”

“The good thing about this vintage is that one could get a better picture of all the Sauvignon Blancs in the country. Because the vintage was excellent, wines from all regions really reflected this.”

“My favourite wine is the best of class, of course,” he laughs. “No, it depends on my mood, but I do like a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir.”

He’s doesn’t mind screwcaps or cork. “As long as the contents are great!”

“I like this competition, he concluded. “It’s a good thing. At the top end we were very strict about giving out a gold or double gold medal.”

John Avery, chairman of one of the UK’s largest wine importers and distributors, Avery’s of Bristol, agrees with Michael by saying that this year he saw some very good Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

Although he’s a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir lover, he really liked what he tasted. “There were very few ordinary wines. That’s always good. And I was very pleased with my panel. They were not lenient at all.”

The 2004 and 2005 vintages impressed him the most. “Even the 2006 showed potential.”

According to John, the UK market is less influenced by big wines. “Softer reds are what the UK market wants. South Africa’s Sauvignon Blancs are also preferred. The New Zealand Sauvignons are just too much. A lot of the Cabs we tasted were definitely suitable for the UK market. They were not too jammy and tannic and the alcohol was not perceived as too high.

“A bunch of wines we tasted were silver medal wines. That reflects the real situation, because that’s where the market is, a very expectable standard for the export market as well.”

A first time judge at Veritas this year was Jonas Röjerman from Sweden. As leading sommelier of the Grand Hotel in Stockholm and the head buyer of South African wine for Systembolaget he was more critical.

“I tasted a lot of Merlot wines and the 2004 and 2005 were strong vintages. The wines were certainly good enough for our market, but South Africa still needs to get on par with the rest of the world when comparing quality. But they are slowly getting there.”

“In Sweden we want the fruity, ripe style,” says the man who prefers screwcaps to a certain extent. “I found a lot of the wine we tasted was of an old South African style – very smoky characters.

He does, however, have praise for the Veritas competition. “I’ve only been here for three days, but the judging was professional and well-organised. This competition definitely has significance to the industry and for the consumer.”

The rest of the international contingent comprises, Julian Brind (MW), from the UK with 40 years experience in the wine industry; Michelle Cherutti-Kowal, owner of Wine Affairs in the UK; Lynn Sherriff, the British and Cape Wine Master currently living in England, prize-winning journalist Michael Vaughan from Canada; wine buyer Thomas Lüber from Germany; two winemakers from Australia, Mac McKenzie as well as Bob Cartwright, the Australian Chardonnay specialist; and the South African wine expert and specialist taster, Dave Hughes.