On Saturday the 2nd of February the Association presented a number of interesting seminars for both trade and consumers. The list of interesting topics was long and South Africa was lined up next to masterclasses such as a vertical of Chateau Beaucastel, white Rhône wines and a winemakers lunch with Weingut Prager. Still, our seminar was the one that got the most bookings! We presented a masterclass together with Libertas Estates on the topic “Ageability of South African Wines”. Christine Scharrer, Fine Wine Ambassador at Distell, was the host of the seminar and she did a brilliant job.

The line-up of wines was truly impressive and the idea was to compare older vintages with more recent ones of the same wine. The message highlighting how South African wines are excellent for ageing came across loud and clear and I think the biggest surprise of all was the Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon 1975 and the Zonnebloem Pinotage 1998, just because these wines are from the standard range!

On Sunday it was time for the big show. When my crew sorted out the wines for our table I went to the restaurant SK Mat & Människor for setting up the venue for the WoSA Sommelier Cup Swedish semi-final. We had 14 participants booked for the morning session and the standard of the competitors was really high.

After a quick coffee and a summary of what to expect they sat down for the theory test. It was a written exam with just under 40 questions, both multiple choice and some with more in-depth answers. A blind tasting was also included where the participants had to find the South African Pinot Noir. This proved to be very difficult! After 1 hour and 40 minutes they were all done and we could pack up to go to Wine Mechanics, where the show was about to start.

Sommelierernas Dag is really the place to be if you want to make an impact on the west coast of Sweden. 350 visitors came through the doors and the venue was buzzing all day. We had a big table with wines presenting three themes:

Platter 5-star Wines, Best of CapeWine Selection (made by the sommeliers that came to CapeWine) and the Distell wines. It was a truly impressive line up!

We had so many good comments about our selection of wines and the visitors really appreciated that we presented such a good opportunity for them to get a broad overview of the country. We felt really comfortable with the stand and how we presented the wines and later on that evening we also got the confirmation we needed. Our stand was selected “Best in Show”! This accolade is based on the visitors vote, so it felt really good to end on such a high note - out of 40 exhibitors WE were the best!

In the afternoon, we also crowned the winner of WoSA Sommelier Cup Swedish round. After the exams were marked we had a slightly unusual situation - the top two competitors had exactly the same score. We did a short quiz with five more questions, and they both answered the same again! This led to a blind tasting of a sweet wine and in the end, we had a winner – Maja Hempel, Sommelier and Restaurant Manager at Thörnströms Kök in Gothenburg! Maja was thrilled about her triumph and will now start to prepare for the final which will take place in Cape Town in September.

-  Maja Berthas, Market Manager Sweden