What I Drank Last Night
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Elim investigated

CE's wine of the day.

CE's wine of the day.

Yesterday a tasting of all current release Elim wines towards generating a list of recommendations to appear in an article I’m writing for UK magazine Decanter.

The venue was Belthazar restaurant at the V&A Waterfront and also involved were John Loubser, cellarmaster at Constantia winery Steenberg and James Pietersen, Platter’s taster and beverage manager for Belthatzar and sister operation Balducci’s.

Wines from Steenberg and Durbanville property De Grendel were included in the various flights as ringers.

We tasted blind with scoring done according to the 20-point system and here’s how the wines ranked (average arithmetic scores in brackets):

Sauvignon Blanc
De Grendel Koetshuis 2010 – 50% Darling, 50% Durbanville (17.8)

David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner 2010 (17.2)

Flagstone Free Run 2009 (16.7)
Flagstone Free Run 2010 – 65% Elim, 35% Elgin (16.5)
Steenberg Reserve 2010 – Constantia (16.5)
The Berrio 2010 (16.3)
Zoetendal 2009 (16.3)
Black Oystercatcher Blanc Fumé 2009 (16.2)
Strandveld 2010 (16.2)
First Sighting 2010 (15.8)
Steenberg HMS Rattlesnake 2010 – Constantia, Darling, Durbanville (15.8)

Land’s End 2010 (15)

David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner 2009 (17.2)

White blends
Trizanne Signature Wines Sauvignon Blanc Semilon 2009 (17.5)
Black Oystercatcher White Pearl 2009 (17)
Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2008 – Constantia (17)
The Berrio The Weathergirl 2009 (17)
Strandveld Adamastor 2009 (16.8)

Trizanne Signature Wines Sauvignon Blanc Semilon 2010 (16.3)

Pinot Noir
Strandveld Anders Sparrman 2009 (16.7)
De Grendel Op die Berg 2008 – Durbanville (16)
First Sighting 2008 (16)

First Sighting 2009 (17)
Strandveld Syrah 2008 (16.8)

Steenberg 2008 – Constantia (16.5)

De Grendel 2008 – Durbanville (15.6)
Zoetendal  2008 (15.5)

Stand-out wines for me were Trizanne Signature Wines Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2009 (19/20), De Grendel Koetshuis 2010 (18.5/20), David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner Sauvignon Blanc 2010, The Berrio The Weathergirl 2009, Strandveld Sauvignon Blanc 2010 and Steenberg Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (all 18/20).

The striking feature of Elim whites is how pure the fruit and bright the acidities. Although very good already, there was a feeling that as the vines became older and producers gained greater understanding of their terroir, the wines would only gain in  flavour concentration and palate weight making them even better. Loubser, though, predicted that the extreme growing conditions (in particular, high winds) which prevail in the ward would result in infertility problems and necessitate regular re-plantings.

The panel was particularly impressed with the relatively unheralded reds. Whereas the whites might be very good, there are plenty of other areas that produce wines of equal quality. The reds, meanwhile, showed the great purity of fruit that cool-climate growing conditions deliver and were typically immediately accessible while not forfeiting individuality.


  1. Rather odd scoring system with different size ranges – most half-stars are accorded a full point, but 3 and 3.5 stars together make up one point. Why this discontinuity, I wonder? Incidentally, Christian, I’m sure you read your Platter Tasting Team briefing last year, but clearly you’ve forgotten the score-star equivalents that are given there – although, indeed, this indicator is not in the book itself.

  2. Tim James of Grape.co.za asks via email about the score-star relationships, pointing out that a wine that scores 15 gets 3 stars, one that gets 15.8 gets four stars – the same as one that scores 16.7. How low into the 15s does the four-star rating go? What score would get 3.5 stars?

    Applying Wine magazine methodology (five person panel), wines scored 14.8 to 15.2 would rate 3 Stars, 15.3 to 15.7 3.5 Stars, 15.8 to 16.7 4 Stars, 16.8 to 17.7 4.5 Stars and 17.8 and above 5 Stars.

    Decanter is different: 3 Stars (Recommended) is defined as 14.5 to 16.49, 4 Stars (Highly Recommended) is defined as 16.5 to 18.49 and 5 Stars (Decanter Award) 18.5 to 20.

    Platter’s meanwhile doesn’t equate Stars to points at all…

  3. Hi Kwispedoor, indeed a typo – thanks for pointing it out and now corrected. I agree that Trizanne Signature Wines White 09 is not nearly drinking at its best. My instinct is that it will come into its own from 2012 through to 2017, gradually gaining more complexity with bottle age. After that, we’ll have to see – some like lots of tinned asparagus tertiary character on their Sauvignon and Sauvignon blends but I don’t particularly care for it.

  4. Both of the Trizanne whites in your line-up are 2010′s – a typo? I loved her 2009, but mine are languishing in the cellar. It did not show much a year ago, although it developed after being opened (like many of the better wines), but I felt there was a real sense of hidden pleasures that will show better after it matured somewhat. I’m going to wait another year or so before opening my first bottle.

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