Classic Party with a few Gongs Included


Arco Laarman, overall winner at Classic Trophy Show


The Classic Wine Trophy Awards, unashamedly arrogant in its position of only allowing French tasters, is actually a breath of fresh air in the staid atmosphere of South African wine competitions.

I attended the awards ceremony for the first time this year and can report that the Classic Wine is really a fun night out compared to other competitions. No boring, rambling speeches. No elevator music or uncomfortable silences. No self-indulgent, pontificating show organisers. And best of all, not a damn lamb shank in sight.


Hell, there ain’t even any seating plans and if you were lucky enough to have a partner, you had to leave it at home.

The wine is a good place to start.

Some 300 wines were entered and scrutinised by the French judges who included ex bouncers, current journalists, restaurateurs and barrel salesmen. There was even a South African Boerseun-turned-French international rugby player in Pieter de Villiers who now resides in Cape Town and still maintains an interest in two French domaines.

The panel got together and selected 17 wines as worthy medal winners. That’s it: you wine a medal or you don’t. No Double Silver, Silver, Organic Bronze or Double Organic Bronze for Best Barefoot Red Wine Producer.

In typical brasserie fashion, all wines were confidently plonked on each table allowing guests to drink away and make up there own minds as to the competition’s credibility.

Of the winning white wines, Chardonnay led the way. Sauvignon Blanc was not a hit among the judges ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ French journalist and judge Claude Gilois termed South African Sauvignon Blancs as “grotty”, so I reckon Pieter de Waal and the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group will not be including him on their Christmas Card list.

Chardonnays included the Hamilton Russell 2010 and the Julien Schaal 2011, both beautiful wines. The Schaal had perfume and flintiness, while the Hammo was rich, full and satisfying. Just the way we like it.

On the red side, the judges really liked Shiraz,, handing out four gongs in total. But it was the Sijnn Red Blend 2008 led the way on my score sheet, closely followed by Glen Carlou’s Awesome Gravel Quarry Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 and the Chamonix Pinot Noir 2010.

That Sijnn ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ a blend of Shiraz, Mourv?+¦???+¦?+¦-+?+¦+ëdre, Touriga Nacional and Trincadeira ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ has a wonderful savoury freshness and in its point of difference in the South Arican taste spectrum, I rate it as a pioneering wine. Glad it is getting the kudos.

With a,gong for his Glen Carlou Chardonnay 2010 to add to the one for the Gravel Quarry, cellarmster Arco Laarman was a worthy winner of the Classic Trophy’s Best Producer. Arco also got the award for Best Party Trick when, overcome with excitement at winning two fine French oak barrels as Best Producer, he up-ended a full spittoon on one of the tables.


At Veritas he would have been expelled. The French, however, loved it.


All the winners:



Grand Cuvee Brut 2007

Hamilton Russell Vineyards

Chardonnay 2010

Julien Schaal Wines

Chardonnay 2011


Viognier 2010


Reserve Chardonnay Stellenbosch 2010

Teddy Hall Wines

Dr Jan Cats Chenin 2010

Glen Carlou

Chardonnay 2010


Weisser Riesling Reserve 2010

Super Single Vineyards

Mount Sutherland Syrah 2009

Glen Carlou

Gravel Quarry Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Groot Constantia

Shiraz 2009


Mentors Shiraz 2009

Cape Chamonix

Reserve Pinot Noir 2010

Groot Constantia

Pinotage 2010

Delaire Graaf

Botmaskop Red Blend 2009


Reserve Shiraz 2010


Sijnn Red Blend 2008






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