KWV The Mentors’ Chardonnay 2013

JUST THE FACTS

Price: R175 – R220 (as of Sep 2016)
Winery: KWV
Varietal: Chardonnay
Wine Region: Elgin
Country: South Africa

JONO SAYS

Quality: 18/20
Value: 4/5
Ponce Factor: Higher than a top C from a pre-adolescent Russian soprano.
Occasion: Anytime you’re far away from anyone who might guilt you into having to share this.

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This wine is not only the result of superbly selected Elgin fruit, but also impeccably executed winemaking. She spends 9 months in oak&100 days on its lees, with regular batonage. The result is yet ANOTHER Triton Express Winemaker’s award.
Aromas carry yellow apple, with subtle vanilla & hints of lees-inspired yeast.
Mouthfeel is full & creamy, with beautiful Seville oranges, apricots, vibrant lemon zest & an attractive hint of macadamia nuts (admittedly I needed some prompting to detect it, but now I can’t miss it).

Bottle bling: branding bumpf, or consumer compass?

I am not going to drag you through another monologue on why the KWV’s Mentors range is so important to the South African wine scene, as I have already gushed like schoolgirl at a Bieber show over here.

Instead, I thought it worth talking a little bit about some of the stickers you’ll see on the bottle, as by and large stickers are little more than annoying eyesores devised to try and boost sales. There are, however, some stickers that actually mean something, and I will try to talk about these awards whenever they crop up.

Why the Triton Diamond award is not just another sticker:

The panel of judges is made up exclusively of winemakers. It is safe to say that a seasoned rugby player will better be able to appreciate watching the performance of a legend of the game, but may struggle to identify with the achievement of a world-class master ballet dancer. The same can be said of a wine lover who understands a little about the process of making wine; he or she is aware of all that could go wrong (or right!), and thus is better able to appreciate the performance that went into making the bottle that they are drinking.
It is logical then to conclude that a competition judged almost exclusively by winemakers will truly produce winners who are masters at their craft.
Only 10% of the entrants win prizes. There are wine awards where a “gold medal” is actually third place. A “double gold” would be second place, and a trophy award would be the actual winner. This is horribly misleading, and leads many a consumer to buy what they think is a gold medal winner (or silver…or bronze… because, hey, at least they’re on the podium, right?!) when it is nothing more than just a hair’s breadth above the average of all the wine’s that entered. By keeping the awards for only the top 10% of wines entered, one can ensure that anything carrying the Triton Express Diamond Award sticker is actually worth investing in.
I have yet to buy a Triton Express Winemakers’ Choice Diamond Award wine that has left me disappointed.
The practical application of this observation is that we can place a little more faith in a wine with the Triton Diamond Award sticker, than we might in, say a wine bearing an award like the Vitis Vinifera award. Or, in the same vein, the proud label of “Chucky’s Cheese’s Most Huggable Bargain Buy”.

About the Author

Jono Le Feuvre is not a bean counter. He is a bean roaster. Bean roasters carry far more street cred & get to speak at bizarre niche gatherings of enquiring-but-unhinged-minds. They also usually have addictive tendencies. When he is not roasting beans he is pulling corks. Or deftly removing screwcap enclosures. But you can read more about him here.

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