LOCAL wine-lovers were treated this week to some of South Africa's very best wines, guided by wine fundi Michael Fridjhon, when the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show masterclass visited Port Elizabeth.
Fridjhon, show chairman and an internationally-respected wine authority, said this year's competition strongly show-cased an evolving new style of South African wines with whites that were "fresh and savoury", and subtle and complex reds.
Leading UK wine writer and broadcaster Oz Clarke praised the white wines that "have started getting fantastic personality unlike any other in the world. They're not copying anybody and that's really exciting".
Of the 15 gold medal-winning wines tasted at this week's masterclass, there were some that stood out even in that illustrious company.
JC le Roux Scintilla 2003 is a brilliant bubbly, crisply dry, lemony and yeasty, with elegantly fine bubbles. It's R160 from the cellar door and well worth uncorking for a special occasion.
The vintage 2008 may seem a little old for a white wine, but the Rijk's chenin blanc Reserve (R180 from the cellar) deservedly took home not only a gold medal but the trophies for best chenin and best white overall, as well as the international judges' trophy.
Take Fridjhon's advice and let it air before sipping, and you'll discover gorgeous clean tastes of lemon and honey with a hint of earthiness and a lingering finish.
Jordan's The Outlier sauvignon blanc 2012 (R93.50, cybercellar.com) could mature for another year but is already great right now, with barrelfermentation giving hints of caramel along with delicious fig and tropical fruit tastes.
The highlight of the reds was Delaire Graff Botmaskop 2010 (about R120), deserved winner of the best red on the show. A blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet Franc, merlot, shiraz, malbec and petit verdot, this is a powerful red cloaked in smooth silkiness and rich fruit.
Winner of the best producer trophy, Stark-Condé from Stellenbosch won gold for its Three Pines Syrah 2010 (R260 from the estate), a rich shiraz made by traditional basket-pressing and unfiltered.
Diemersdal's MM Louw Estate Red 2011 is a big Bordeaux blend, predominantly cabernet sauvignon, rich and beautifully balancing fruit, oak and spice (R286 from cybercellar.com).
Find the results at www.trophywineshow.co.za