In a first for the South African hospitality industry, last night saw the unveiling of theTaj-First Growths Wine List – a series of wines considered to be the most sought-after in the world that are now available for enjoyment by guests at Taj Cape Town.
Against the backdrop of Table Mountain bronzed in the amber light of a setting sun, estate owners and cellar masters from the cream-of-the-country’s-winemaking crop, together with members of the media, gathered on the roof terrace of the Taj Cape Town’s famous Presidential Suite to be welcomed to the auspicious occasion by the hotel’s GM, Michael Pownall, Malene Meisner and ReneDehn of the White Club, and Waterford Estate’s Kevin Arnold.
In his address, Pownall confirmed the exclusivity of the collaboration between the Taj and The World of First Growths: “This bespoke list comprises access to 36 of the top performing wines from the best wine-producing countries on the planet, which makes the Taj Cape Town one of the only locations in the country where they can be publically enjoyed.”
Dehn, who is The World of First Growths Ambassador, expressed his organisation’s support of the local wine industry. “South African wines are highly underrated on a global platform,” he said. “The wines being produced in this country can more than hold their own against the very best in the world.”
Speaking via live satellite link from Switzerland, The White Club’s CEO Malene Meisner confirmed Dehn’s views: “The launch of this special wine list will allow local and foreign visitors the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enjoy these very rare and special wines, professionally served and in the correct conditions. As such Taj guests will go onto become dedicated ambassadors for South African wine around the world.”
Arnold, meanwhile, urged those assembled from the winemaking fraternity to embrace the challenge set by The White Club: “By benchmarking South Africa against the very best in the world, The White Club is encouraging us to band together to promote our country’s wines, not at local level, but on a global stage.”
Adding that “there is no greater challenge than what is in the glass”, Arnold then urged guests to enter the designated tasting room in order to “allow the wines to speak for themselves.” Here, under the expert guidance ofthe Taj’sHead Sommelier,Tatiana Marcetteau,they were given the privilege of tasting a selection of the extraordinary wines on the new list, among them the immensely covetableChâteau Haut Brion, Chateau Lafleur and Chateau Leoville Las Cases.
Written by hand and bound in white leather,theTaj-First Growths Wine List is presented separately to the hotel’s regular wine offering and includes full pedigree and tasting notes of each vintage.“These wines are so scarce that many consumers will never have the chance to ever taste them,’ said Dehn. ‘Now, at Taj Cape Town, guests have the unique opportunity to try not only the very best in South African wine, but to compare these with a unique selection of offerings from the globe’s most iconic estates.”
About The World of First Growths
A series of the most coveted vintages from the globe’s top wine-producing countries, The World of First Growths is an initiative of international members-only wine society, The White Club. Although traditionally used when referring to a classification of wines from the Bordeaux region of France, the term “first growth” (“premier cru”) here refers to a collection of wines of unparalleled quality, the blue-chip stocks of the wine world, meticulously chosen by an independent a panel of wine professionals, sommeliers, hotel directors, media experts and local consumers through a series of blind tastings.
Compiled under the guidance of Malene Meisner of The White Club, the First Growths collection includes 42 wines – six each from France, Italy, Spain, Australia, the United States and South Africa, with the only exception being Bordeaux, where six from both Left Bank and Right Bank have been selected – plus two stand-alone sweet wines, the outstanding Château d’Yquem from Sauternes and South Africa’s award-winning Vin de Constance. Only wines whose origins are 100-percent traceable and where consistent quality is guaranteed feature on the list.
About The White Club
An independent fine wine and Champagne connoisseurs’ club that is based in Switzerlandbut includes a membership that spans the globe, The White Club is widely acknowledged as the arbiter of vinous superiority. At regular tastings held in various five-star venues around the world, members enjoy such wines as Dom Pérignon Rosé 1959 (the rarest Champagne in the world; the kind served by the Shah of Iran at his wedding and a bottle of which fetched US$85,000 on auction in 2008) and the Romanée-Conti (considered the most prized and expensive wine in the world – three bottles of the 1990 vintage were sold for US$72,000 this year).
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