Most SA wine competitions release their results around the third quarter of the year. This appears to make sense, given that year-end festive season sales account for about 40% of liquor turnover. However, when it comes to fine wine, trade is less seasonal: the rarest wines tend to sell out as soon as they come to market.

Show organisers say that timing is driven by factors that have little to do with the selling season (assuming one even exists). The grape harvest takes place in the first quarter of the year. The Young (bulk) Wine Show is judged in August because the wholesalers who buy by the tank can make their decisions as soon as the wines are in a commercially viable condition. The bottled wine equivalent (the Veritas competition) is judged a little later, with the fresher whites already in bottle, and the reds from the previous year already offering a little evolution...

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