The Checkers Battle of Die Berge sets new standards for wine judging

The first Checkers Battle of Die Berge Wine Festival 2013 took place between 13th and 14th of September 2013 at Muratie Wine Estate. The festival pays homage to the impact of mountains, a charismatic feature of the Cape Winelands, on the taste of wines produced there.

Top caption: The judges; (From left to right); Tariro Masayiti, Maggie Mostert, Winnie Bowman CWM, Danie De Wet (Chair) and Higgo Jacobs.

Stellenbosch, synonymous with quality wine in South Africa, is surrounded by mountains. Perhaps the most famous of them are the Helderberg to the South and the Simonsberg to the North-East. These mountains were chosen as the subjects for this year’s Checkers Battle of Die Berge Selection, comprising 3 Helderberg wines and 3 Simonsberg wines. Wineries in and around the Simonsberg and Helderberg Mountains in the Stellenbosch region were invited to submit wines made entirely from grapes grown there and were allowed to enter 1 wine in each of 3 categories: Wallet-friendly (under R80 ex cellar); White wine; and Red wine.

The legendary Danie De Wet lead a judging panel comprising seasoned judges Winnie Bowman CWM, Maggie Mostert, Tariro Masayiti and Higgo Jacobs. All wines, poured under the auspices of the South African Sommeliers Association, were tasted blind in a rigorous format designed to elicit the golden threads or tasteable site-specific identity from each mountain. Danie described the responsibility of the judges as, “deciding what role site-specific terroir plays in creating excellence in wines from Simonsberg and Helderberg and which wines subsequently best express their geographical DNA.” He went on to say that, “Judging wines in this context totally distinguishes Battle of die Berge from other wine competitions and affords the event more gravitas and a more comprehensive narrative than the many straightforward ‘beauty contests’ on the South African – and international – calendar.”

The final selection, from 70 wines entered, was announced at the Checkers Battle of die Berge Spring Picnic, held at Muratie Estate on Saturday 14th September 2013. The following wines took honours:


Vergenoegd Runner Duck Red 2011  – Wallet-friendly category

Vergelegen Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2013 – White wine category

Alto Shiraz 2011 – Red Wine Category


Glenelley Glass Collection Shiraz 2010 – Wallet-friendly category

Delaire-Graff Chardonnay 2012  – White wine category

Warwick Trilogy 2010  – Red wine category

The white wines from the Helderberg showed ocean, flint and mineral notes whereas the Simonsberg’s had a luscious tropical intensity. Simonsberg’s reds had weight and depth with intense earthy, mineral notes, while the Helderberg’s showed a succulent, fresh and visceral fruit depth. This selection will be promoted and sold by Checkers in the run-up to the festive season with obvious benefits to producers as well as the Stellenbosch region in relating a tasteable sense of place to consumers.

The event was proud to showcase the judging for the Western Cape Provincial Round of the Shoprite Checkers Championship Boerewors Competition. During a grueling elimination round, Johanna (Henna) Pick from Worcester, was announced provincial winner and a finalist in the 2013 Shoprite Checkers Championship Boerewors competition.  As the provincial winner, Johanna will meet up with the other nine finalists for a fun-filled weekend at Sun City and the grand finale on 5 October 2013.  Lewin Paulse from Athlone and Jasper Gordon from Somerset West were placed in second and third place respectively.

At the event, guests joined MC Herman Lensing, food editor at SARIE, in enjoying a taste-around of mountain wines alongside some of the best boerewors in the country. Checkers’ own gourmet boerewors rolls and cheeses were on sale and revelers, despite the unpredictable Cape weather, enjoyed the spectacular scenery and entertainment during the course of the afternoon.