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John Platter Stars – THE Standard for South African Wine

John Platter Stars

The South African journalist John Platter established his reputation in professional circles as an excellent wine critic of South African wines, because he was not only an objective, reserved critic, but also a subjective-emotional fan of the Winelands. For many, this is not necessarily positive but particularly in regards to taste there will always be a subjective aspect that John Platter never tried to hide, despite his rating system with the Stars. The John Platter Stars are therefore often more honest and authentic than any distant-scientific approach.

Despite not having been active for over a decade, his annually published John Platter’s South African Wine Guide has become a standard for wine from South Africa since it especially offers novices and also experts a good decision support and helps navigate among all these great wines from the Cape. Almost every single winery is thoroughly introduced and the wines are individually discussed and rated. The rating, as mentioned above, uses Platter Stars on a 5 points scale. The rating system starts at 0 Stars up to a maximum of 5 Stars, in steps of 0.5. 5 Stars is an absolute must-have. Due to the large selection of Stars, a differentiated and precise rating of the wines is possible which doesn’t get lost in details but delivers what it should: a reliable orientation for gourmets.

The Rating System in Detail:
  • 5 John Platter Stars: Superlative – a Cape Classic
  • 4.5 John Platter Stars: Outstanding
  • 4 John Platter Stars: Excellent
  • 3.5 John Platter Stars: Very Good
  • 3 John Platter Stars: Full of Character, Attractive
  • 2.5 John Platter Stars: Good Wine for Everyday
  • 2 John Platter Stars: Casual Quaffing
  • 1.5 John Platter Stars: Quite Nice
  • 1 John Platter Star: Very Ordinary
  • 0.5 John Platter Stars: Ordinary
‘Wine Pope‘ John Platter, Jean-Pierre Rossouw and Philip van Zyl

The John Platter’s Wine Guide is considered to be one of the most internationally renowned and competent wine guides for South African wines and is – until today – the best-selling annual of its kind. The Platter’s Guide, also called the South African ‘wine bible’, has grown to over 600 pages in the past 30 years and is published annually as a new edition with the latest and updated ratings. The John Platter Stars are so influential nowadays that the initiator is often called the ‘wine pope’ in the international wine world. His opinion and the opinion of his 20-head degustation team of the different South African wines significantly influence their value – even though John Platter hasn’t been a part of the active goings-on for a while. Today, Jean-Pierre Rossouw who also publishes the leading independent restaurant guide Rossouw’s Restaurants and chief editor Philip van Zyl continue the idea with the same consistency. Year after year, an experienced team tastes the wines from around 600 wineries in South Africa and rates them afterwards. Almost all wineries of the country are therefore listed in the guide. Besides the individual ratings, there are also awards for the best white wine, the best red wine as well as the winery of the year. Furthermore, the John Platter’s Wine Guide provides useful information about each grape variety composition, regions and the vintage.

Why Creating a South African Wine Guide – the History of the John Platter Guide

When in the late 1970s, the South Africa-based journalist couple John and Erica Platter discovered the ground-breaking Pocket Wine Book by Hugh Johnson, they quickly developed the idea of doing something similar for South Africa. The South African wine world was and still is multifaceted to such an extent and so different in terms of quality that only true experts of the country stay on top of things. In order to give the ‘average’ gourmet an understanding of the best wines of the country and to provide them with a specific decision support, the first edition of the John Platter’s Guide was quickly published. The mission of the John Platter Wine Guide as well as of the John Platter Stars has always been followed with passion and enthusiasm: to create an appetite for South African wine, whether directly in South Africa or at home in Europe.


Appetite for more? Find the South African wines awarded with 4.5 or 5 John Platter Stars here.

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