The judges of the 2019 Absa Top 10 Pinotage competition share their impressions after the selection tasting.


Winnie Bowman – panel convenor and Cape Wine Master:

Wonderful to taste ranges over the same vintage to get an insight into the different styles and terroir expressions.

It was also interesting to see the impact of the drought on the wines and how the winemakers handled the situation

Overall , there was a lot of variety, balance , fresh flavours and not to many of the coffee-style wines. It seems that winemakers are moving away from that.

 Greg Sherwood – Wine Master based in London:

“Pinotage is a complex category of diverse styles, but it remains a genre that doesn’t want to be put aside. If you get the balance, elegance, freshness and use of wood together with moderate maturity, you have the building blocks for a great wine.

Some of the vintages were as expected and others not. It was a thorough, enjoyable first Absa Top 10 Pinotage judging experience.”

 Frans Smit – Cellar master at Spier:

“The term ‘pinotage is forgiving’ has just been proven not to be correct. The vintage reflection was very clear and I really enjoyed working through the years / vintages. There were some really excellent world class wines. I like the fact there was a lot of balanced, lengthy wines with lingering finishes.

The wines that scored high were of great quality and I think the Top 20 finalist wines will be of stunning quality.”


Razvan Macici-  award winning winemaker:

“In general, the wines are beautifully made with attention to balance. There was good use of wood and a characteristic absence of the “coffee styles” – this fashion is beginning to disappear.

Some of the older vintages showed dark colour, dark fruit and nice quality. Some of the younger wines were  just as well made and will develop well in the future. It was a great opportunity to taste the best pinotage wines in SA.”


Nomonde Kubheka-  winemaker and connected to the Pinotage Youth Development Academy:

“The wines were well balanced with firm tannins and good oak integration. One of the vintages in particular stood out as an exceptional year for Pinotage.

In general, the wines were clean, well-managed, in balance and I think the defective wines were very few.”


Solly Monyamane – protégé:

“There was a huge difference between the different vintages. Of course the climate played a huge role in this but gladly, varietal characteristics still show significantly throughout the years.

The pinotage category is very different from years ago. Pinotage is on a very exciting journey with the quality not getting worse – the wine is different in every vintage, but it’s exciting that the quality is just as good.”


*The winners will be announced on 14 August 2019 during an event at Boschendal.