The 2020 edition of the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show kicks off today, 31st August, a full four months later than normal, to shine the spotlight of critical approval on South Africa’s finest wines. Conscious of the regulations designed to minimise the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the convenor and the show coordinators have re-designed the judging environment and re-written the rule-book of the country’s most credible wine show. Covid-19 made it impossible for the illustrious international judges committed to joining the 2020 panels to travel to South Africa. They have been replaced by some of South Africa’s most experienced senior judges, all of whom have worked with the many international judges whose presence has added experience and cachet to the competition’s results domestically, and in South Africa’s international wine markets.
Now in its 19th year, the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show enjoys an unparalleled reputation for identifying the very best Cape wines, recognising the achievements of the country’s winemakers, and honouring excellence in the wine industry. The competition was described by Jancis Robinson MW OBE (Judge in 2003 and 2007) as “possibly the toughest of its kind in the world.” It serves the interests of consumers and producers alike by virtue of the rigour of its methodology, the accuracy of its judgements and the forum it provides the industry to engage in the key quality issues of the day. In an era where the country’s 550 wineries are battling to survive the impact of the pandemic and ensuing lockdown on their business, it provides a vital platform from which to highlight the extraordinary achievements of the country’s finest wine producers.
Thobile Tshabalala, head of Brand at Old Mutual, says, “Times have been tough on the wine industry and its sister sectors, the tourism and hospitality industries. We are therefore pleased and proud that we are able to continue to support this vital industry and help restore its capacity to generate economic opportunities and employment across South Africa.”
The judging panel is chaired by wine authority Michael Fridjhon. The first International co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge, and immediate past-chairman of the Six Nation’s Challenge, he has directed the show’s panels since the competition’s inception in 2002. This year’s panellists comprise a hugely experienced group whose members include Christian Eedes, editor of winemag.co.za, panel chair of innumerable category judgings and visiting panellist for competitions in Europe and Australia, Patson Mathonsi, sommelier and wine judge, now regional sales manager at Spier Wine Estate, Cathy van Zyl MW, an international judge and lecturer, primarily in Asia, and Narina Cloete, long-serving Trophy Wine Show judge, as well as panellist at the Zarcillo International Wine Competition in Spain. Other senior panellists include François Rautenbach, who directs the Singita fine wine programme and has been a judge at the OMTWS for several years, JD Pretorius, formerly chief winemaker at Steenberg and now cellarmaster at Warwick, and Alexandra McFarlane, winemaker, viticulturist and Trophy Wine Show judge in 2018. Champagne and Cap Classique specialist Heidi Duminy CWM, recently appointed principal of the Cape Wine Academy, Spencer Fondaumiere, national brand manager for Warwick Wine Estate, and Trizanne Barnard, owner-winemaker of Trizanne Signature Wines make up the cohort. In the interests of keeping numbers to a minimum (per Covid-19 rules), the show this year will not be including any associate judges on the panels.
Ahead of the judging we are delighted to announce a new trophy category – for Old Vine wines certified as such. The award will be named The Rosa Kruger Trophy to honour the extraordinary work done by Rosa Kruger in identifying and cataloguing our heritage sites, and in making it possible for the Old Vine category to grow and to flourish. All such Old Vine submissions will be judged in their normal class of entry, and will only qualify as trophy candidates providing they win a gold medal when judged by the primary panel.
“The worldwide Covid-19 pandemic added massively to the problems the wine industry has been compelled to confront over the past few years. Trading restrictions, as well the economic crises of our key export markets, presented challenges to the viability of many of the smaller wineries. Under these circumstances it is impossible to over-emphasise the value of Old Mutual’s ongoing support of the competition. By providing the most successful producers with a platform as well as an international marketing message, the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show could prove key to the survival of many of these enterprises,” Michael Fridjhon added.
The judging co-ordination, logistics, wine entry administration and communication is again being managed by Alex Mason-Gordon and Michael Crossley.
An extensive publicity programme follows the release of the show’s results at the end of September.