Old players, new flag-bearers: these are the Trophy Wine Show’s top dogs
Truly substantial producers have kept pace with the times, while many newcomers are worthy of celebration
Change is difficult to measure when you’re in the midst of it. Looking back has its own limitations, however, mainly because you cannot recapture the zeitgeist of the time. Occasionally, at least with wine, you can review the past in the way archaeologists work their way through the multiple levels of civilisations built on the ruins of those they conquered. You can look at competition results, for example, and talk about the fashions they reflect as a way of tracking the changes.
This year, being the 20th edition of the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show, I thought I would examine the 2021 results through a viewfinder which looks at the laureates of the inaugural competition. To put some perspective on the two decades, it seemed useful to add the midpoint, 2011, to the visual field. I have as much a personal as a dispassionate interest in this exercise. I have been show chairperson since 2002. Every year I look very closely at what the judging panels have achieved, but then I move on. With wine at least, the future holds the promise of summers still to come.
The show was launched less than a decade after the end of isolation. Exports were booming and SA wines were finding their way into the markets from which they had been banned for decades. Many of our winemakers had spent their entire professional lives without the intellectual engagement that comes from being an active part of the wider world of wine. The same was true, though to a lesser extent, about our wine judges...