by Natalie Wang
Quality of South African wines was highlighted at a series of blind tasting competitions organised by Meiburg Wine Media in four Asian cities, pitting South African wines against French wines, in an effort to challenge popular perception of South African wines being inferior.
Held in Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Shanghai, the competition titled “Flight Club” featured wines from Premium Independent Wineries of South Africa (PIWOSA) – a collective of 10 family-owned South African wineries – and challenged sommeliers to identify and locate five high quality French wines hidden in five flights of wines, according to the company.
The five French wines are Domaine des Roches Neuves L’insolite Saumur Thierry Germain 2014, Domaine Jacques Prieur Puligny-Montrachet Les Combettes Premier Cru 2014, Domaine des Perdrix Nuits-St-Georges 2014, Duhart Milon Rothschild Pauillac 2010, Domaine Yves Cuilleron St Joseph L’Amarbelle 2014 and De Grendel Winifred 2015.
Zachary Tay, group sommelier for SPRMRKT Singapore, was the only contestant out of nearly 100 participants who correctly identified the five French wines. “We’ve always known of the great quality to price ratio South African wines bring to the table but it never occurred to me how difficult it would be to separate it from the French wines we tasted during the wine flight. Some of the French wines used for this tasting would have cost 20-30% more on a restaurant’s wine list. The quality difference has definitely become smaller over the years,” he commented.
While in Japan, market prospects for South African wines seem bright. Speaking of South African wines’ market in Japan, Madoka Ogiya, owner & sommelier of The Opener, said, “Absolutely. Japan is a unique market in wine. There have been distinct signs that the Japanese are moving well beyond Bordeaux/Burgundy to something new and more ‘stimulating’. In this case, premium South African wine is the perfect choice for me to introduce to my customers. The challenge is to overcome and change the image of South African wines that people have, if any.”
Rollo Gabb, chairman of PIWOSA, added: “PIWOSA came to Asia to challenge and change perceptions. We set out to test premium South African wine against some of the very best in the world – against some of the finest French producers in top vintages.
“The fact that just one of 100 top sommeliers and wine professionals could correctly identify these wines is a testament to the quality of our wines today.”
“The timing for premium South Africa to focus on the Asian market is also ideal. The premium wine market in Asia has really experienced a surge in the past two years. These South African wines are the epitome of what this premium market segment represents – middle-priced wines of exceptional quality, offering immense value for money,” adds Debra Meiburg MW.
Published in The Drinks Business