IWSC 2024 Wine Judging in South Africa: judges' deliberations

Wine news

Fri 28 Jun 2024

By Ciaran Griffiths

Our third Wine Judging in South Africa has been another resounding success. Over several days, our panel of international and local judges tasted wines from all across South Africa, led by IWSC Wine Judging Committee member John Hoskins MW. Once the judging had come to an end, we caught up with the panel to find out their highlights and some surprises.

John Hoskins MW shared ‘It's been an outstanding week. We awarded medals to more than 95% of the wines that entered, showing the level of quality has been extraordinary and higher than in previous years!’

One of the standout categories for our panels was the Cabernet Sauvignons, two of which won gold medals. ‘The Cabernets proved the solidity of the category, with a number of wines highlighting how special the wines can be from this area, at their best,’ shared the judges. A Cabernet Sauvignon from Stellenbosch was described as possessing ‘a savoury earthy character with well-integrated charry oak and a grippy finish, it was bold and quite flamboyant!’

One surprise for our judges came from the Malbec flights, one of which was awarded a gold medal. ‘We were overall surprised to find a gold in the Malbec categories, a style that can be underdone, yet was well executed and interesting,’ shared the judges. This wine won a gold medal thanks to its ‘perfumed nose that shows ripeness and typicity with an elegant intensity’.

Similarly, our judges were delighted to see an improvement in the Bordeaux blends from Paarl with an impressive three gold medals being awarded to these wines. ‘We were happy to see the Bordeaux blends from Paarl shine and showcase individuality and finesse, they have reduced the gap with Stellenbosch Bordeaux blend reds. This is very positive because the appellation is growing in quality,’ said the judges.

The judges were pleased to see the diversity in the Stellenbosch Shiraz entries, finding the best styles showed ‘the peppery, rotundone and umami characters of the variety’. Wines from this category were awarded 5 silver and 6 bronze medals.

Sauvignon Blanc wines saw a solid result, with a large amount of silver and bronze medals. The judges stating 'the Sauvignon Blancs were interesting and diverse, comprising wines from various areas, including cooler climates, for example coastal, giving a cool profile. Many of the wines showed accomplished balance of fruit and acidity, giving texture and length'.

The Chenin Blancs were praised for being ‘well-made, commercially-driven wines’, and took home several strong silver and bronze medals. Two Stellenbosch Chenin Blancs impressed our judges and were given gold medals. One of these was highlighted for its ‘subtle nose with delicate sunshine orchard and stone fruits, whispers of blossom and fine touches of vanilla.’

Chardonnay was another strong performing grape variety, with the judges awarding several strong gold medals. Two of these went to Stellenbosch Chardonnays that really stood out to the panel who said ‘The Chardonnay section was revealing with very good samples and well-made wines, it was great to see this step up and we are sure those wines can compete with the best Chardonnay in the world!’.

The panel were impressed with the sparkling blends entered into this year’s competition, awarding gold medals to 3 exceptional examples of the style. One of these was described as ‘balanced and rich with fresh, waxy orange and lemon peel, toasty, brioche yeasty notes, very sophisticated and precise.’ IWSC Wine Judging Committee member John Hoskins MW agreed with the quality on show stating ‘The level of quality now being achieved in the sparkling wine category is really exciting. I think there's opportunity for growth for this category’.

Overall this has been another strong performance for South African wines. John Hoskins MW shared ‘We're always lucky in South Africa that the IWSC is so well supported by the producers and this year is the best we've had!’ Our full results announcement will be made on 1 July.