There’s no shortage of wine competitions and reviews – and while each has credibility in its own right, it is remarkable how often the same wine is judged differently.
The result is that wine consumers are usually forced to rely on a multitude of wine results, interspersed with a diversity of competition structures every year. As annual results often appear to be little more than once-off subjective opinions, and tend to change remarkably, it leaves the majority of wine lovers somewhat confused.
This is where SAWi is able to help. The SAWi methodology compares and condenses results from 84 multinational competitions, reviews and listings, acknowledging the nature of the competition and additional accolades bestowed on a wine, and expresses this as a single number out of 100.
In other words, the SAWi system distills the collective wisdom of a multitude of authoritative wine competitions and wine reviews into a single point score which is consistent and drowns out much of the subjective noise of various judging panels. Through SAWi’s Mathematical algorithm patterns are recognized making it easy to distinguish wines which are consistently accepted as exceptional. Most importantly, it allows a comparison of like with like.
Highly rated SAWi wines have special value, especially given the rolling nature of rankings over multiple years of judgment. The SAWi rating sets an aspirational benchmark for quality and brings together top producers under a new brand concept promoting South Africa as a collective.
In this way, SAWi showcases top South African wines, and will continue to support excellence in wine making as the catalyst for progress and development.
While many wineries received multiple awards, or exceeded the overall SAWi Index of 87.4, this year, it is sobering to note that the Index is down from 88.1 in 2014.
All top performing South African wines are adjudicated using the Index, and the select group of wines that score 93+ using this benchmark is termed the SAWi ‘Grand Wines Collection’. SAWi Award winners are chosen from this collection.
Sourced from 585 wineries, the SAWi ‘Grand Wines Collection’ currently includes only 197 wines, representing 89 wineries.
Wines that score between 93 and 95 points are assigned Grand Gold status. Further emphasis is placed on members whose wines achieve 95+ points, with these wines assigned Platinum status and designated the SAWi ‘Ambassadors Collection’.
Of all members’ wines rated since 2010 only 58, representing 37 wineries, have managed to score 95+.
2015 saw the wines of Edgebaston and Le Riche join the SAWi ‘Ambassadors Collection’.
Bouchard Finlayson, Cederberg Private Cellar, Saronsberg Cellar (previous trophy winners), Groot Constantia Estate, KWV and Rustenberg Wines all received 5 awards each.
These wineries were followed by Constantia Glen, Hamilton Russell Vineyards, Jordan Wine Estate, Creation Wines and Paul Cluver Estate, with 4 awards each.
SAWi Legends Award
The SAWi Legends Award is given to wine personalities that, over many years, have contributed in a ground breaking way to the industry and are still actively involved.
Following Hempies Du Toit, Jan Boland Coetzee, Peter Finlayson and Beyers Truter, Etienne le Riche scooped the 2015 award.
With a degree in winemaking and viticulture from Stellenbosch University and two years spent in research, he joined Rustenberg Wines in 1974 where he produced a range of award winners. During this period, he traveled to most of the wine producing areas of the world. This gave Etienne an impressive record in the industry and the impetus needed to start his own project.
Etienne decided to create a winery where he could pursue the cultivar he had grown to love and respect, Cabernet Sauvignon. The approach was simple, to illustrate the nuances of Stellenbosch Cabernets as best possible.
In 1996, he left Rustenberg Wines and developed a new venture in Jonkershoek. His first wine under his own name, Le Riche Cabernet Reserve 1997, was an immediate success and earned various accolades. Known as SA’s ‘King of Cabernet’, Etienne is a founding member of the Cape Winemakers Guild.
“Everyone has talent,” wrote novelist Erica Jong. “What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.” And, while there is no evidence (beyond the dark berry colour of a glass of his wine) of a “dark place” in Le Riche’s single-handed voyage – in the good ship, Cabernet Sauvignon – it is fair to assume it took an extraordinarily brave heart to cast off solo from a well-feathered nest on a secure shore.
This is a man careful to speak and quick to listen. His humility and knowledge drive the style that is Le Riche. Etienne is married to Marcelle. His daughter Yvonne, and son Christo, are both involved in the winemaking business.
To read the full article about SAWi follow this link.