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Home Winners > Winners 2018 > NEW WORLD: Zinfandel & Pinotage

Winner Details

New World: Zinfandel & Pinotage

2018 Gold 3      Silver 7      Bronze 0      Commended 3
2017 Gold 2      Silver 2      Bronze 4      Commended 7

There aren’t many somms who would ask for a bottle of Zin or Pinotage as their last drink on death row, but attitudes to these two varieties are changing. We rarely used to get more than one wine on the Gold List seven or eight years ago, the last few we’ve been solidly at two; now, for the first time, we have three – and a good spread of Silvers to boot.

Expensive Zin has always been well respected in the Sommelier Wine Awards – and our Gold (and other medals) were mostly where you’d expect them to be. The big shift this year was in Pinotage. For the first time ever it outpointed Zin on the Gold List, and the feedback from the tasters was significantly more positive than it’s been in the past.

There were not many categories that picked up two Trophies, so for a niched one like this to do so – a Food Match and a Critics’ Choice – was a real achievement, and proof positive that the improvements in winemaking technique in The Cape are really starting to pay off.


‘No one has planted Pinotage elsewhere because people aren’t that excited about it, but these were actually really good. They had that Pinotage character – a bit wild and savoury. There was good winemaking.’ Jade Koch, team leader

 ‘I was nicely surprised by the Zinfandel, after what I’ve tried before. These were structured and juicy, with good flavour, and violet notes. I was really impressed by both price and flavour.’ Elisa Soggia, Kai Mayfair

‘I like Pinotage. It’s quite young in terms of winemaking, but price wise, the mid-range is where it’s at, with a lot of different flavours, and quite a savoury character as well. They’re really good for food, but also interesting to drink on their own.’ Manuel Ribeiro, The Bybrook

 ‘I was very impressed by the flavour profile of the Zinfandel. It’s got a place in a restaurant, although sometimes, with that alcohol content, like Amarone, you have a bottle and you’re done for the day. But there were some beautiful examples here. You could see the varietal characteristics.’ Laurent Richet MS, team leader

Award winners

Found 7 wines

New World: Zinfandel & Pinotage

Terlato, The Federalist, Visionary, Zinfandel 2015, Dry Creek Valley, California, USA

Gold medal winner

Elevated to Gold amidst a number of Silver-medal Zinfandels in this category, this was ‘a step up’, began Mattia Mazzi of Lutyens Bar & Restaurants, admiring its ‘vanilla and baking spice aromas with mostly red fruits – ripe and sweet’, while team leader Laurent Richet MS felt it was ‘the top end of Zinfandel, with dried hay deliciousness, notes of cigar and bruised blackberry fruits, great length with a touch of warming alcohol’.

£22.91 Matthew Clark

DFV, Gnarly Head, Old Vine, Zinfandel 2015, Lodi, California, USA

Silver medal winner

‘A serious wine, led on the nose by that dried hay aroma, but ripe black cherries and red plums, too,’ began team leader Laurent Richet MS, while Cristian Sánchez of Hotel du Vin Cambridge noted ‘jammy-ish cherries, raspberries and blackberries blended with sweet spices, cinnamon and vanilla, and violets, and a long yummy finish’.

£12.55 Bibendum

Boutinot, The Big Top, Old Vine, Zinfandel 2016, California, USA

Silver medal winner

Mattia Mazzi of Lutyens Bar & Restaurants found ‘spicy red fruits, caramel, char and cloves’ on the nose, adding: ‘The wine is warm, with firm concentration, with plenty of caramel on the palate after the fruit fades away, but still lingering with spices, notably sandalwood above all’. ‘Vibrant, fruity and in-your-face, but well within the style,’ concluded team leader Laurent Richet MS.

£6.14 Boutinot

Seghesio, Sonoma Zinfandel 2016, Sonoma County, California, USA

Silver medal winner

Elisa Soggia of Kai Mayfair highlighted this Zinfandel’s ‘intense violet characters on both nose and palate, accompanied by intense raspberry and red plum fruit, good tannins and body and excellent balance’, with Mattia Mazzi of Lutyens Bar & Restaurants finding it ‘fragrant, fruit-forward and approachable now, but could develop further’.

£17.50 Liberty Wines

Renwood, California Zinfandel 2015, Amador County, California, USA

Silver medal winner

Jonathan Kleeman of Four Degree was happy with this wine’s ‘fresh, fruit-driven style, with redcurrant and plum notes, full in the mouth but not overtly rich’, while Hakkasan Hanway Place’s Gabriel Liotta thought it had ‘very approachable, ripe black fruit and good structure’.

£13.93 Bibendum

Renwood, Premier, Old Vine, Zinfandel 2015, Amador County, California, USA

Silver medal winner

‘Oaky, plenty of vanilla, but dill and coconut to support youthful concentrated fruit on the nose,’ began Mattia Mazzi of Lutyens Bar & Restaurants, appreciating ‘lots of concentration and density of fruit on the palate, oak still leading but showing structure worth ageing to see how the bouquet and profile will develop’. ‘Serious and powerful, more structured wine,’ agreed team leader Laurent Richet MS.

£17.21 Bibendum

Bogle, Old Vine, Zinfandel 2015, California, USA

Commended medal winner

£12.77 Enotria&Coe


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