Friday, December 08, 2006

WARWICK TRILOGY: Top 100 Wines of 2006/Wine Enthusiast Magazine

Congratulations Team Warwick!




Wine Enthusiast Magazine

Top 100 Wines of 2005

Top 100 Wines of 2005



Wine Enthusiast SELECTS Top 100 Wines of the Year



December 7, 2006— Elmsford, New York – Wine Enthusiast Magazine, one of the world’s most respected and quoted publications in the field of wine and spirits, has named De Loach’s 2004 30th Anniversary Pinot Noir from California’s Russian River region “Wine of the Year” in its December 31st “Best of Year” issue, available this week.  The Best of Year issue celebrates the Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Wines of 2006 and also recognizes the year’s Top 100 Best Buys, with a Washington State Shiraz as the number one best-buy choice. 


Carefully selected by the editors of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, the annual “Best of Year” selections are drawn from the nearly 10,000 wines tasted over the course of 2006 and represents the highest standards in quality, price, availability, newsworthiness, excitement and buzz! The list covers all five major categories of wine: sparkling wines, red and white table wines, fortified wines and dessert wines. Winners this year include wines from 13 different countries of origin. “More and more countries are making top-flight wines, and the 2006 list reflects the great improvements in winemaking that we’re seeing around the world,” said Wine Enthusiast Magazine Tasting Director and Senior Editor, Joe Czerwinski.


The Top 100 Wines of 2006

The Top 100 Wines of 2006 include 56 New World wines and 44 from Europe.  The New World was well represented in the Top Ten with South Africa’s Warwick Trilogy at number five, and Argentina’s Punto Final Malbec Reserva from Perdriel at number nine. The US boasted 38% of the Top 100 Wines, with three of the top ten produced in California.  Price and value are important criteria for even the best wines – Wine Enthusiast’s number three pick is the Charles Heidsieck Rserve Brut Champagne, at $36 a bottle. While the average price of a Top 100 wine was $53 a bottle, the median price was $36. 


Since multiple factors were considered when selecting wines for this prestigious list, not all wines on the Top 100 list are necessarily the highest-scoring wines.  Of those featured, the wines that received the three highest scores from the Wine Enthusiast 100-point rating scale were all Cabernet blends from the 2002 vintage in California, including: Sloan Cabernet Blend, Rutherford, unique recipient of 100 points; Rubicon Estate Cabernet Blend and Harlan Estate, Cabernet Blend, Napa Valley, both 99 points.  The average score of Top 100 Wines is 94, while the average price of Top 100 Wines is $53, with the median price at $36.


The Top 100 Best Buys of 2006

Less than 1% of all wines tasted over the course of the year make it onto the Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s Best Buy list.  Wines designated as the Top 100 Best Buys of 2006 have wine-rating scores of 85 points or higher of the 100-point scale and generally have a suggested retail price of $15 or below.  The grand winner this year was Columbia Crest’s Grand Estate Shiraz from Columbia Valley, Washington, with a 90 point rating score for $11.  Second place went to Portugal's Dao Sul’s Quinta do Gradil, also with a 90 point score, available for $6.  Rounding out the top ten, the USA had five wines (2 from Washington State and 3 from California), while Portugal, Argentina, Australia, France and Spain each had one.


Of the top 100 Best Buys, 52 wines are from the New World while 48 are Old World, while the average price is $11.60.  As contrasted with the Top 100, which had no ross, there are four ross on the Best Buy list. In addition, 40+ wines scored 90 or above: 14 from US, 6 from France, 5 from Argentina, 4 from Spain, 5 from Australia, 3 from Portugal, 2 from Chile, 2 from Germany.


Top 100 Wines of 2005

Top 100 Wines of 2005



Warwick 2004 ‘TRILOGY’ Estate Reserve



Warwick 2004 Estate Reserve

South Africa, Stellenbosch / $32 Red
This was the first Bordeaux blend from the Cape, and remains one of the very best. This 2004 is stylish, very Bordeaux in its structure, yet shows a richness of fruit that Bordeaux can only envy. Black currants, dry tannins and a sense of great ageability - they are all there.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

WARWICK ESTATE: Challenge International Du Vin

Dear ‘Team Warwick,

More good news!


The results are in for the Challenge International Du Vin 2006.

The Challenge International du Vin is the biggest French international wine competition with over 30 countries entering and 5000 wineries entering.


South Africa received 5 medals, of those, Warwick took home 1 gold, 1 bronze and 1 silver – a total of 60% of South Africa’s results.


Well done everyone … another positive result!

I hope that this info is useful.



Mike Ratcliffe

* PO Box 2, Elsenburg, 7607, South Africa

( Phone:    +27 (0) 21 88 44410
4    Fax:       +27 (0) 21 88 44025

( Skype:    mikeatwarwick



Wednesday, June 07, 2006

2004 Blends

I just finished doing the 2004 red wine blends and I am very happy. This not an one day exercise, but a task that stretches over weeks with decisions you have to sleep over.

Blending is a bit like alchemy because when you do the blends the results are often not what you expected. One plus one equals three in many cases so trial and error can be a very rewarding journey.

For the 2004 vintage we only have 100 cases of Cabernet Franc. This is because we had a very small crop in 2004 and most of this gorgeous wine has to go to the Trilogy. Cabernet Franc is a wonderful component to have and we are very fortunate to have ane of the best vineyards in the country on our farm. The block is known as The Far Side because of its location. The block is very consistent in quality and gives us an edge when blending.

The 2004 Trilogy is one of the best to date and I think it will sell out even quicker than the previous vintage.

The Three Cape Ladies is also a step up and proof that all our efforts in the vineyard are finally paying off. This year their long lost cousin Shiraz joins the Three Cape Ladies. Our once off Shiraz that became a cult wine in the US has finally found a home in this blend and helps the other ladies to hold the flag.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Wine across America Blog – Los Angeles


Distribution in America is the key to success. Like anywhere in the
world, ‘route to market’ is always going to be the killer attribute that can
mean the difference between success and failure. Nowhere in the world is
this more apparent than in the United States where the neo-prohibitionist
hangover of federal liquor controls hangs thick in the air. Americans, it
seems, have reached an uneasy state of acceptance of this extraordinary
status quo where every facet of a wines journey to the end consumer pads
somebody’s pocket. To recapr for those who are confised by these statements.
America (generally) has a 3 tiered system of wine distribution whereby the
non-American producer cannot legally sell wine to anyone but a wine
importer. The absurdity starts when you understand that no single person or
business entity may own both a distribution and import license. What this
means is that the importer cannot sell wine to the consumer or even the
retailer/restaurateur and can only sell wine toa distributor who in turn can
also only sell wine to the trade. Technically speaking, the only place a
consumer can gain access to imported wines is through the 3rd tier of the
channel which is the retailer or restaurateur. Once you understand the
vastness of the US market, it is understandable that perhaps this system
would have evolved independently as few companies have the infrastructure
and capabilities to own and distribute nationally with efficiency. But the
system really falls down in the sense that it suppresses free market
activities and that the larger National distributors have little in the way
of competition. As a result of this and to further entrench this skewed
power balance, the larger distributors are being consolidated  at a rate
that is unprecedented and fewer distributors are controlling more of the
market. It feels sometimes that every medium-size distributor in the US is
simply waiting for the ‘big guys’ to come along and buy them out. Might I be
over-dramatising this? Maybe, but this is the feeling on the ground.
So what does this mean for South Africa? Well, for every distributor that
gets purchased, this means fewer distribution slots for South African wines
exist and fewer small producers are able to participate in what becomes a
much larger structure. The larger a distributor gets, the larger the
supplier has to become in order to become a meaningful contributor to bottom-
line. The big brands become bigger and the smaller brands get squeezed out.
The consolidation of distribution and ongoing production fragmentation
continues apace. The two trends are not compatible and we will have to win
over some serious buyers to grow South African wine in the US – usually at
the expense of another global supplier.
So where are the opportunities?
The federal and state regulators are slowly (very slowly) dismantling the
complex wine distribution laws, but a combineation of big business
(distributor) lobbying in Washington, a very religious and conservative
population and misplaced priorities is hampering this progress. A high-
profile battle between retail giant Costco and the state of Washington
recently threw up a couple of clues about the future when Costco won the
first step in the battle to allow it to ship directly from the producer. Of
course this judgement will go to appeal and will probably be held up for
years, but Costco is being aggressive and has set a valuable precedent which
any sensible judge cannot fail to respect.
Is this a good thing? Well, yes and no as it si being championed by the
mammoth retailers and you can be sure that they are not pursuing a
Samaritanian endeavour to make money for the supplier – no, they are chasing
margin for their bottom-line because they know that through direct imports
and direct shipments, that they can leverage their massive nation-wide
distribution network to exponentially multiply their sales and balloon
already embarrassing margins.
Opportunities exist for South African suppliers to find routes to market
that narrow the gap between importer, distributor and retailer. In some
states, it is (kind-of) legal for the husband to own an import license, the
wife to own a distribution license and the kids to own multiple retail
licenses. It happens – another symptom of an idiotic system. Many California
wineries drive a substantial volume of their sales through wine clubs and
direct shipments to customers. Of course there is a limited amount of states
that you can ship to directly, but this has been growing over the years. Is
there a business model here for South African wineries. Is there an
effective model for a South African winery to run a wine club for direct
sales to customers? The answer must be yes, but there has to be demand first
and brand South Africa must become more entrenched before this will work. So
the hard work lies ahead in this massive market opportunity that is the USA.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Wine across America – California Dreaming!

The late night arrival of Team South Africa on the East Coast with an additional 3 time-zone changes was a minor shock as the road-show rolls on. After 3 months of non-stop rain that has been seriously affecting budding and shoot-development in California, the skies finally opened on the day of the Wines of South Africa tasting downtown, a stones throw from the eponymous Embarcadero. By many accounts, this tasting has been the most successful of the tour to date. Restaurateurs, retailers and eager consumers arrived in droves and kept everyone busy with an intense interest in learning more about South African wine. It is once again clear how closely linked tourism and wine are in selling brand South Africa. A large majority of the consumers had either been to South Africa or knew of someone that was going and this provided the key draw card, in my opinion. Americans have an embarrassment of choice and this is what has made America the enormous consumer culture that it is – or was it the other way around? The consumer, on the one hand, can be a little jaded and confused by choice. But if the message and the choice is communicated clearly and unambiguously to the consumer, they show an incredible willingness to open themselves up to trying something new. I have said this before – but feel that it is important to restate. Americans want us to teach them about our products and they want to buy them. We just need to start working on a clear message because at the moment our little wine industry does not have the financial or logistical clout to really get the message across. Sydney Harbour Bridge sells more Australian wine than you can imagine. ‘Finding Nemo’ and many other cultural icons has driven a whole generation to find Aussie interesting and exciting. We got close with Lion King – but it was really not there, was it?
On the subject of repeating myself, If I hear another consumer complaining that the wines on the WOSA show are not available in the USA, I will scream. It is always going to be difficult to give ‘new entrants’ an opportunity to show their wines, but perhaps we are putting the cart before the horse on this one. Perhaps these producers have had an opportunity to learn a huge amount about the US market and get a feeling for how to go about positioning themselves to enter the market, but it seems like an illogical and costly entry and market research solution. The tasting this afternoon in Costa Mesa, South of LA is being hosted by a prominent retailer called Hi-Time liquors. Once again the problem is going to raise its head as the consumers can only purchase the wines that the retailer stocks, and at best wines that have Californian distribution – it’s a tough school.
Wow! The Costa Mesa Orange County tasting was a hit – the consumers came out in droves and we were run off of our feet. This tasting must have rated as one the most intense and focused consumer wine tastings that I have ever been privileged to participate in. Wines poured, winemakers sweated, consumers listened and the wines of South Africa touched the perfect Southern California market. It was a monumental tasting and even impressed the organizers. I arrived a little more than 10 minutes before the tasting started ( a little late) and had to fight through about 100 people queuing at the door to get in. Big thank must go to Hi-Time Cellars for their excellent organization and boundless energy – the show was great!
I would like to pay tribute to the WOSA team for the effort and organization in putting this tour together – it has been an eye-opener for many producers and will be a catalyst for South Africa in this market. It is also a catalyst for greater cooperation in building South African wines in the US by building brand South Africa. One of the great minds behind doing just that is Yvonne Johnston at the SA International Marketing Council. It has been said that a bottle of wine in every wine shop and on every wine list in America will act as a positive reinforcer for Brand South Africa’s generic image. The wine industry has a lot to offer our marketing drive and we should not play second-fiddle. Tourism and many other SA industries engaged in marketing all have an excellent opportunity to harness synergies by partnering with WOSA – wine is exploding in America and we are in the right place at the right time – but there will not be more than one chance to get it right.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Wines of South Africa tour heads West

I have now arrived along with Team South Africa in beautiful (and chilly)
San Francisco – the flight from Chicago is only 4 hours, but takes in 3
times zones and even this short distance leaves you with jet lag – after a
run along the Embarcadero, the waterfront of San Francisco I feel refreshed
and ready for another big day.
But first, lets chat about Chicago. I had some very detailed debates about
the efficacy of the South African presence in the USA with Norman Cilliers
and Ken Forrester who are co-conspirators on this unabashed assault on the
USA. A lot of thoughts came out along with a lot of things that I wanted to
share. A question was posed about how many of the people manning the stands
on the WOSA roadshow actually have authority to transact business and take
any kind of meaningful business decisions. A lot of comment has been
received from consumers, retailers and restaurateurs that they have liked a
lot of the wines and upon enquiring about the producers distributor, were
told that the wines are not available in the USA. Now we understand that
many of the producers are looking for importers and distributors and that
this is a ‘fishing’ expedition, it was seen as intensely negative from many.
Another thought was that there may be examples of people from South Africa
on the tour who were considering this as a mini vacation from the office and
really had very little likelihood of doing any business. I would encourage a
thorough evaluation of the process upon return to South Africa to see if
there has been any return at all from this trip across America. This is a
concern – does this apply to other WOSA road trips? It was suggested in the
same debate that if a ‘follow-up’ meeting was called for South Africa upon
return, how many of the tour participants would attend?
On the positive side, we had a very beneficial day in Chicago and saw a lot
of existing clients and customers as well as spent some valuable time with
our distributors who are doing a great job. Business was done, relationships
formed and strengthened and the Wines of South Africa made a very positive
Another debate was raised in Chicago. The question about the coordination of
South Africa’s marketing efforts was discussed and it was felt that we
should be seeking greater cooperation between South Africa’s marketing
agencies. A South African wine tour would be a perfect companion for a
tourism tour, a finance tour and perhaps even a Safari lodge tour of
America – we have invested heavily in this tour and it is a certainty that
we should be cross-pollinating our efforts to a larger extent. The financial
economies of scale alone scream for this type of cooperation. What if the
big South African investment conference that was in NYC at the same time as
the WOSA tour had been in the same venue??? The missed opportunities hurt
the more you think about them. This is not a finger-pointing exercise. It is
however an effort to spark debate about the future of South Africa’s
investment into the world market with the greatest potential for South
Africa and our wines in particular.
Many producers have reported exceptional sales into the USA, but this could
easily be explained away with ‘filling the pipeline’ – the shelves are
starting to report increased populations of South African wines – but are
they moving. The answer has to be yes, but too slowly. This is a consumer
issue and not an importer/distributor issue. Distributors will not take on
any more brands if the existing ones are not moving. This is what is
happening and we should welcome debate on this. This is not a rule, but a
generalization – many producers are doing well – but Brand South Africa is
NOT flying off the shelf. We need to coordinate our icons – what about gold
and diamonds, table mountain, wild animals, Nelson Mandela, Charlize Theron,
Dave Matthews and many other wonderful SA icons that are yet to be
Another contentious question has to be raised about the (negligible)
representation of WOSA board members at this event. The board members on the
tour numbered one (excluding the hard-working CEO, Su) –out of a possible
13. If this market is going to be successful we need the support of the
board and this is only going to come about if they understand the market and
this will only ever come about as a result of having been here. It is my
contention that in the next year we are going to have to raise our game
significantly through greater man-power, significantly increased funding and
national coordination if we are going to win the consumer over. Without a
thorough understanding of the complexities and challenges of the US market,
we cannot have strong leadership and without this we are dead in the water.
Despite these challenges, South Africa is gaining traction that will provide
us with a solid platform for our REAL marketing push. Lets call this a
scouting expedition shall we?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Pennsylvania, New York and Illinois - the train continues rolling!

Great excitement for South African wine is that the head winebuyer for the PLCB (Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board) has decided that it is about time that South Africa is featured as wine of the onth and October 2006 it will be. After an excellent lunch with Steve Pollack, Mark Hazurand the guys from the Wine Merchant a broad agreement was made on how to proceed. Pennsylvania is a monopoly state and over 150 wine stores and outlets are owned and controlled by the State. This could be an opportunity? Steve has undertaken to assemble 125 store managers in one place for a whole afternoon in September for a South African seminar in which we can ‘educate’ them about South Africa, our geography, geology, climate and wines. I spoke to Rory Callahan and he has committed to presenting the seminar – he will need some backup. Bill Kohl who is the GM of the Harrisburg Hilton has agreed to make the conference facilities available to us in September at no cost and so we are all set. This is going to be enormous for South Africa! Well done Rory!
> The train to NYC was uneventful and a late arrival and check into the crappy Holiday Inn was not very exciting! My shoebox (hotel room) at $290 per night was a firm welcome to NYC gift and I realized that NYC is back after the horrors of 9/11. Boy this place is expensive.
> Back onto the train on Saturday and a great visit to Farmingdale, a vaguely charming town on Long Island. My train was delayed twice due to brush fires and I ended up taking a bus, another train and 2 taxis to make my way to Stew Leonards Wine Shop. I spent the afternoon doing a tasting and educating the guys on South African wine – they reported a steady growth in their South African sales, but mentioned that South Africa had not yet really dome anything significant to compel customers to reach for our wines. The shelves were also (at the bottom) languishing with expired vintages of wines that I cringed at. Perhaps our friends at the big winery in Paarl could do something to try to sell through some of the unsold back vintages polluting the South African category and taking up valuable shelf space around the country?
> Monday … the big day and the WOSA tasting in the Puck building on Lafayette street was all ready to go. Wines of South Africa and the supporting contingent have to be congratulated for putting on a great show and showing a spectacular face to the buyers and trade of NYC. I was proud to be South African as I saw all the winemakers and agents in a beautiful venue, well dressed and with a wonderful selection of SA wines. The tasting started slowly and then started building until it was fantastically busy – it really was good and the trade poured in. For those that had dome some preparation, it was a great opportunity. I cannot speak for the participating producers without importers about the success of the day – but my gut feel is that it might have been a little less successful business wise? There was a good mix of sommeliers, waiting staff, wine shop owners/buyers and other wine buyers and they all seemed really interested. Pinotage was popular and I heard this remark a number of producers who were caught off guard. The fruity, yummy Pinotage wines that had a little sugar found favour with the patrons. You can agree or choose to disagree, but the fact remains that wines with higher extract, good concentration, some sweet oak, a little residual sugar and a smooth finish do wine the customer over in the US. Now, we can fight this, or we can accept it and listen to the market. This does not mean a wholesale corruption of winemaking philosophy and South African terroir – we should just make a point to understand our markets and adapt ourselves to this. This is not a global direction and w4e should treat this topic carefully and not just accept it. It could get heated if treated lightly. We should perhaps open this topic to greater debate and I intend raising this topic at a Rootstock forum some time this year. Anyone want to join in the debate? Click on the comment tab below to start the debate.
> I write this column from my airplane seat en route Chicago for the next installment of the WOSA tour – the windy city will meat the marauding South African wine industry on Wednesday and we can expect to meet some interested and influential customers. Stay tuned.

The WOSA tasting in NYC

Watch the video
A brief video showing the space and the excellent attendacne at the WOSA New York City show a couple of days ago.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Wine across America – DC, PA, NY 28th April 2006

Wow, it has really been a whirlwind and things are going well so far – I am now 4 days into the tour and looking forward to meeting up with the WOSA gang in New York tonight. I am writing this on the AMTRAK train from Harrisburg Pennsylvania to New York City – the only direct service that avoids going through Philadelphia. It is always a good diea to purchase tickets online in advance as it is cheaper and it avoids finding a fully sold-out train – like this one.


I spent Tuesday night in Baltimore and presented a well-attended South African wine dinner at a restaurant called Abacrombie which has the reputation (I later realized) as one the best restaurants in the state of Maryland, Sonny Sweetman is the chef/owner along with his beautiful wife and they were filled to capacity with 53 people crammed in for a wonderful dinner. The cuisine was exceptional and the guests were intent on learning as much as possible – it was at this evening that it dawned on me that South Africa has really got a chance to win the battle for recognition in the USA. The dinner guests were interested, thirsty for knowledge about South African wine and eager to learn – how often do you see this in Europe these days? The US challenge seems so large and the obstacles enormous – but every time I am back here it appears that there is tangible progress in building brand South Africa. This is so invigorating – we just need to maintain the momentum and make sure that we take our best wines to the USA – this must surely be the KEY!


After a wonderful early-morning run around historic Baltimore harbour, Wednesday found us on the interstate highway back to DC for another trade tasting and South African seminar – I had the pleasure of meeting Carter Nevill, regional sales manager for Cape Classics and we hit it off. Cape Classics should be recommended for being a proud ambassador for South African wine in the USA. I also had the pleasure of meeting Brad McCarthy, the winemaker and co-owner of the famous Virginian winery Blenheim Vineyards which he co-owns with Dave Matthews – the US singer/superstar.

The next day was spent on a ‘ride-with’ (literally spending the day with a distributor sales person) doing tastings for a number of restaurants.  We visited the eponymous Restaurant Eve, a great wine shop owned by the passionate Jonas Gustafsson. Then on to Le Paradou, an awe inspiring restaurant owned by legendary chef Yannick Cam; we tasted for at least an hour and shared rugby stories with sommelier, Nicolas Rouet who is a big South African fan. We got 2 listings on their epic winelist, the first time a wine from the Southern hemisphere has been listed – we felt very proud and decided to celebrate with a couple of cold beers at Vidalia, the famed DC eatery where we planned to meet fine wine merchant, Mike Tilch from Silesia Liquors for a 7 course tasting menu presented by Manager/Sommelier Doug Mohr. I have included (below) a video blog in which I interviewed Mike on his positive feelings about South African wines. The evening was capped with a spectacular 1970 Chateau D’ Yquem which was at the height of its powers – a very generous gift from Mike. What an evening!


A 04h45 wake-up was not really what was needed at this stage – but it had to be to catch an early flight from Dulles to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. More about this in the next installment! New York here we come!

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Young Winemakers at Cape Wine 2006

Watch the video
Here is an interestingpost for those of you that were at Cape Wine 2006, here is the great clip taken for the 'Young Winemakers' seminar.

Mike Tilch, fine wine dealer from Maryland talking about SA wine

Watch the video

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Driving through Washington DC

Watch the video
Driving past the Washingotn memorial in DC

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

American Wine Diaries – Baltimore, Maryland
I woke up too early in DC and then forced myself to go back to sleep – jetlag in traveling across timezones is a reality and you have to really take it into consideration. I got up and went for run in Rock Creek Park which is barely 5 minutes walk from my B&B. It was such a beautiful day and one can only marvel at the beauty of some of Americas parklands. Bumped into my first Starbucks coffee. Whether you are an anti-globalization activist or not – you have to admire the Starbucks ability to make a good cup of coffee – every time! OK, so engines recharged time to get ready, check out of the hotel and head for the most beautiful railway station in the world – Washington DC’s Union station. See the photo attached. I got some good advice and avoided AMTRAK and instead went for the local MARC train system which runs parallel to AMTRAK – the fare for the same ride was $7 versus $22 for AMTRAK.I arrived in Baltimore very efficiently and was collected by Julia and then we headed to the Country Vintner trade tasting. About 150-200 people in attendance and wines from allover the world. I managed to get in some good tasting and some excellent wines. I fell in love with the Bassermann-Jordan Riesling Trocken 2004 from the Pfalz which has always been a favourite – the 2004 vintage is such a step up on the hot 2003 German wines. I digress…I was asked to present a seminar on South Africa which (as it turns out) was the only seminar on the day and was certainly a big drawcard with a huge turnout. I felt a little overwhelmed and under prepared, but in the end I adopted a very informal ‘round table’ discussion and luckily had some awesome slides that I could present as part of a powerpoint presentation – it went well and the half hour allotted for the event stretched to almost an hour as a large proportion f the audience stayed for the entire hour. What a great time and so many intelligent questions. There is no question in my mind that Americans have an enormous propensity to collect and collate information better than any nation on earth. When they become interested in something, they go harder and show more dedication to getting all the facts. Shields T. Hood and Lisa Airey from the Society of Wine Educators were at the tasting and they remarked on how positive their image of South African wine is. Rory Callahan and Robin O’Conner will be presenting a large seminar on South African wine at the SWE conference in Eugene Orgeon this year. Now this is a fantastic opportunity to preach the SA gospel.OK, make sure that you have listened to the PODCAST this morning. Any comments or requests are most appreciated.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Fw: 'The American wine diaries' by Mike Ratcliffe

Well the epic USA trip has kicked off! Hi from the airport lounge in Heathrow
terminal 4 ... the first 11 hour flight to London is completed and it is just
about time to head for BA217 to Washington DC. I sat next to lady on the BA
flight who had been in SA for Cape Wine 2006 and had then followed this with
a week's holiday - she was bowled over by the show and by the country in
particular. She has already booked her 2nd trip and will be back in SA in
December. Well done WOSA!

This daily 'American Wine Diary' has a number of goals - first is to try to
help as many people as possible gain an understanding of the American market
with lots of insights, thoughts and anecdotes. The USA has been identified as
the market showing the most potential for South African wine and it is up to
the whole SA wine industry to make sure that we take our rightful place
alongside the other top wine producing countries. It can only happen with a
collective effort. At the same time, lets have some fun and see how we can
harness technology as a road warrior. We won't get over-concerned about
grammar and spelling as it will be regularly posted via Blackberry. (the
first hot tip for communicating on the road!) The USA is a long way from
South Africa - we need to harness the power of the internet to bring our two
diverse cultures together and bring South African wine to Americans who are
amongst the most adventurous and eager-to-learn wine drinkers in the world.
This diary has been commissioned by and is going to last for
about 3-4 weeks. It is intended to be interactive and we invite you to post
comments and generally get interactive. The diary will be posted
simlutaneously on the ROOTSTOCK BLOG so log
on and check it out.

This diary is going to take in a huge and active itinerary commencing in
Washington DC and followed by brief stints in Arlington Virginia, Baltimore
Maryland (home of Robert Parker), Virgina, Delaware and then a short flip
over to Harrisburg (the state capital of Pennsylvania. At this stage I will
be joing the WOSA USA tour in New York which will then progress to Chicago,
San Francisco and then onwards to LA culminating in a grand tasting at the
famous (or is it infamous) Beverley Hills Hotel.

We will be doing some daily podcasting, I will be posting Video Blogs and
attempting to do some interviews and chats with people across the USA - so
watch this space. If there is something that you would like to hear about,
let me know. if you like it, let me know.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Announcing the new 'Wine across America' Blog

Starting from Monday April 24th, I will be departing on a 3 week tour across the USA.

The itinerary takes in Washington DC, Baltimore Maryland, Arlington Virginia, Harrisburg Pennsylvania, New York City – the Big Apple, Chicago, San Francisco, Orange County, Beverley Hills and then finally back to San Francisco before a break-neck flight to London England. I will be writing a daily diary with Podcasting, video blogging and lots of other innovative stuff. Its going to be great! Check in or subscribe for the feed today!



Tuesday, April 11, 2006


We were interested to hear the news recently that Robbie Williams - the UK superstar rock sensation has been spotted in the Waterfront at Baia restaurant prior to his sold-out concert tour of our fine country. More importantly though, after a phone call from owner/manager Jean, we heard that Robbie W and his entourage had quaffed 18 bottles (the entire stock) of Warwick Trilogy and had requested some large format bottles too. A thirsty bunch - a request for a photograph or autograph went down like a lead balloon!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The 2006 harvest is looking good, but it is testing our patience. We have harvested all the Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc and Pinotage, but have barely started on the rest of the reds. Somebody reminded me today that it is autumn already.

The quality so far has been awesome so we can be very grateful.


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Wine & Spirit Magazine Honours Warwick

The influential American Wine & Spirits Magazine has just released its list of “Wineries of the Year” and Warwick has made the stringent cut as the only South African winery to be listed. This list of the Top 100 Wineries rewards producers of quality and consistency. The magazine’s panel must have tasted and recommended at least three wines from a specific winery over the past year in order for it to be considered as a potential Winery of the Year. The variables involved in making the list therefore include the number of wines recommended (consistency); and also the number of scores over 90 points, and what the top scores of the wines are (quality).
Wines from all over the globe are submitted to the tasting panel, which is made up of staff members and critics, plus an array of sommeliers, wine store owners, wine teachers, or other wine experts (but never the importers). All wines are tasted blind and any wines recommended by a majority of that panel are then tasted and rated by the critic for that country; in the case of South Africa, Joshua Greene, the editor & publisher of Wine & Spirits. He then scores the wine independently and writes a tasting note for the wine, both of which are published.
Wine & Spirits Magazine is San Francisco-based and has a wide readership, primarily in the USA and also in Europe. Over 200 000 people read every edition, and the quality of the editorial and ratings make it one of the top two American magazines, with great influence on the buying patterns of the American public. In a survey, 98% of the readers of Wine & Spirits said that the magazine’s ratings influence their wine-buying decisions.
With this result, Warwick have built on their ongoing success also having made it onto the list of Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wines of the world with their Cape Blend, the Three Cape Ladies, featuring at number 71. Wine Spectator uses four criteria for choosing their Top 100. The first three are quality, volume and price; but it is the fourth, namely the “X-factor” that is interesting to note – and a justifiable reason why this Cape Blend has received this recognition. They define the X-factor as excitement, the ability to stimulate and surprise… a wine that is different – and this Cape Blend is a wine with such a point of difference “built in” in the form of Pinotage.
When one considers that the USA is one of the largest international markets for fine wine, Warwick’s inclusion on these two lists is indeed a notable success, since these are the two most influential American wine magazines. The listings also build important awareness for the quality of South African wines, which are geared to claim more and more of the US market share.
Today we got confirmation that Warwick has been listed as one of the Wine & Spirits Magazine Top 100 wineries in the World. As the only South African winery, we were very happy to hear this. We hope that South Africa can grow its presence in this accomplished publication.