I recently attended another fabulous evening tasting wines made by members of the Garagiste Movement of South Africa. The occasion was the staging of their first Garagiste Challenge and it took place at the Taj Hotel in the centre of Cape Town.

The judges for the Challenge were Neil Pendock (a leading South African wine writer), Francois Naude (Rhebokskloof winemaker), Thys Louw (Diemersdal winemaker), Jacques Lukasa (sommelier at Bosmans. Grande Roche), Pearl Oliver (sommelier at Belmond Mount Nelson), Dr Winnie Bowman(CWM, international wine judge and taster for Platters Wine Guide), Marco Ventrella (KWV head viticulturist) and Mark Norris (MD of Ultra Liquors).

The judges, together with the votes of people attending the tasting, will be collated and a Top 8 will be announced at a special occasion in the near future.

As I count many of the Garagiste winemakers as friends, I  think it prudent to refrain from commenting on the 10 wines announced, from which the Top 10 will be selected.

Having said that, here are the names of the competing wineries, each of whom produce wines worth seeking out and trying:

Domaine Coutelier. Flying Cloud Wines, Peter Bayly, Bemind Wyne, Genevieve, The Parks Winery, Sonklip, Osbloed, Belgusti, The Giant Periwinkle, Kronendal, Elemental Bob, Van Eck Family & Friends, Clive Torr Wines, Hornbill Garagiste Winery, Enfin Wines, Portalia, Lieben Wines, Soetkaroo and Kabbo-Piet Coetzee.

During the evening, I thoroughly enjoyed my first taste of wines new to me and also wines I know quite well. I must find an opportunity soon to try the wines which my sobrietymeter prevented me from tasting that night!

But let me say this, without speaking out of turn, I overheard many extremely complimentary comments from the judges about some of the wines they tasted. For some this might have been their first exposure to local garagiste wines en masse. To expose the wines to the scrutiny of this distinguished panel of judges I feel was both a brave and wise decision.

As serious as the judging aspect of the occasion was, a Garagiste evening is always full of conviviality, laughter and camaraderie and passion and of course, people enjoying wonderful wines.

This first Garagiste Challenge represents a significant milestone both for the Movement and for its member wineries.

My congratulations go to the organisers and the winemakers, long may you grow and achieve and give pleasure!


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