Rats-VATS Wine Tasting Evenings

Each year we have a tasting evening with our local friends & rivals, VATS, to determine which club knows their wines blind.

Local wine guru, Geoff Carter, presents 8 wines blind (4 whites, 4 reds, all single-varietal South African) and we have to determine the varietal and vintage.

Typically these evenings attract around 30 members from each club, with only the top 10 scores from each club counting.

The emphasis is on fun and since we only count the top 10 scores, a poor performance by anyone will not hamper their clubs' chances of winning.

RATS-VATS: Past Years' Winners
  • 2014 - CellarRats
  • 2013 - VATS
  • 2012 - VATS
  • 2011 - Cellar Rats
  • 2010 - Cellar Rats
  • 2009 - Cellar Rats
  • 2008 - Cellar Rats
  • 2007 - Cellar Rats
  • 2006 - VATS
  • 2005 - Cellar Rats
  • 2004 - VATS
  • 2003 - Cellar Rats
  • 2002 - Cellar Rats
  • 2001 - Cellar Rats
  • 2000 - Cellar Rats
  • 1999 - Cellar Rats
  • 1998 - VATS


  • 2014 - Joanne Bender
  • 2013 - Carina Human (De Villiers)
  • 2012 - Craig Bracken
  • 2011 - Shelly de Beer
  • 2010 - Sarah Newton
  • 2009 - Rudi Hiesterman
  • 2008 - Lucinda
  • 2007 - Timna Russell
  • 2006 - Christopher Cosgrove
  • 2005 - Duane Blaauw
  • 2004 - Rudi Hiestermann
  • 2003 - Alexandra McConville
  • 2002 - Terry Odgers
  • 2001 - Christopher Cosgrove, Sarah Newton & Jeanette Gombert-Odgers (3-way tie)
  • 2000 - Jeni Evans
  • 1999 - Christopher Cosgrove

Honorary Members
(Updated 15 Feb 2013)

  1. Alexandra King
  2. Claire Grant
  3. Clyde Clark
    (Founder Member)
  4. Dion Brandt
  5. Ed Arnold
  6. Ian Grant
  7. Geoff Carter
    (Founder Member)
  8. Jane Brandt
  9. Jeanette Odgers
    (Founder Member)
  10. Jigs Rinsma
  11. Nigel Redman
    (Founder Member)
  12. Paul Linton
    (Founder Member)
  13. Ronel Arnold
  14. Sally Rinsma
  15. Sarah Newton






Well done Rats, beating VATS by 411 points to 263  ... hopefully the beginning of another winning streak. Special kudos to Joanne Bender who was both the Top Novice and Top Taster of the evening!

Thanks to Kevin Ryan for a excellent selection of wines which generally showed varietal character. It was a fun evening, topped off with vino & gourmet hotdogs. The RATS top 10 were:

Joanne Bender  - 56
Terry Odgers - 48
Ken Bruyns - 48
Carl Wagner - 48
Timna Russell - 46
Gerhard Naude - 39
Robyn Luke - 32
Brett Chrystal - 32
Sarah Newton - 31
Shelly de Beer - 31


Congratulations to VATS for their success on Tuesday evening. Dave put a very interesting selection together with a couple of stinkers for both red and whites! Tough one but the VATS came through with 426 to our 384 points. Thanks to VATS for hosting a fun evening with the very tasting boerie dogs. The RATS top 10 were:

1. Carina Human (De Villiers) – 57
2&3 Mike Stokes / Rudi Hiestermann - 40
4,5&6 Dalene Bosman/Christopher Cosgrove/Morag - 39
7 Gail Mingard – 37
8, 9,10 Ken Bruyns/Jenni Murphy/Carl Wagner/ Terry Odgers

Well done to all and thanks for the great attendance.


Not our proudest moment but here it is for the record anyway.

Thanks to all who participated in a fun evening!

Cellar Rats Top Tasters:

1 Craig Bracken 41
2 Sarah Newton 40
3 Sophia Dower 39
4 Heather Ralph 38
5 Christopher Cosgrove 38
6 Brett Chrystal 33
7 Edward Arnold 32
8 Carl Wagner 31
9 Bruce Carrie 30
10 Laura Kirker 30



Congratulations to Shelly who was our top taster. Also thanks to Geoff for setting up the tasting although as Bernd from Vats has pointed out, we aren’t a big fan of him introducing the evening with Pinot Gris! A curveball to start!

Many thanks to Vats for a fun evening!

Thank you to all the Rats who attended and hopefully you all had fun. We look forward to repeating the fun event next year.

The Top ten for Rats were as follows:

Shelly DeBeer 59
Rudi Hiestermann 51
Petra Preuss 41
Bruce Carrie 40
Christopher 40
Daniel Spies 37
Brett Russell 31
Catrina 30
Christine Kennedy 29
Ronel Arnold 28

Rats total Score 386 and Vats 335



Congratulations to Sarah Newton on her sterling performance. Now she has a truly prestigious award as the top taster at the competition.

By the way she did manage to finalise a little qualification and is now a Cape Wine Master. I am sure, however, that she will value this tasting performance above all else!

Rats had 38 people attend, and Vats 17. Here are the Rats top 10 scores.

1. Sarah Newton - 67
2. Mark Connor - 58
3. Christopher - 49
4. Sophia Dower - 48
5. Lindsay (did not put her surname on sheet) – 40 Novice
6. Mandy Spurdle – 38 Novice
7. Christine Render – 38 Novice
8. Gian parker - 34
9. Terry Odgers - 32
10. Petra Preuss & Carina de Villiers (Novice) + another person who did not write their name on the sheet- 31

The Rats score was 435 and the Vats Score 226.

Thanks very much to Geoff for putting the show together although the Chenin-styled Pinot Grigio was a bit nasty!

Also many thanks to Rainold who supplied the sauce for superb Prego's and to Dave Moss who supplied the cooking equipment.

And of course many thanks to all our members and to the visitors from Vats who made it such a fun evening.

Wines were:
1. Flat Roof Manor Pinot Grigio 2009
2. Graham Beck Game Keepers Reserve Chenin Blanc 2009
3. Constantia Uitsig (Unwooded) Chardonnay 2009
4. Nitida Semillon 2009
5. Two Oceans Pinot Noir 2009
6. Laibach Merlot 2007
7. Elgin Vintners Third Edition Shiraz 2007
8. Neil Ellis Cabernet Sav 2007


Thanks to all 51 Cellar Rats members who supported us. For those of you who couldn’t make it, the great news is that we won.

Cellar Rats won the overall competition. In addition we had the Top Novice taster (Rob Love 49pts), and Rudi Hiestermann won the Top Individual Taster prize with an incredible score of 67/70. He aced all 7 varietals and only missed on 3 of the vintages! A remarkable feat, and one that we’re not likely to see repeated again soon.

Thanks to Geoff Carter for putting together a great selection of wines, and thanks to all those who helped with the setup, pouring wines and marking the score sheets.

Once again Reinhold treated us to his wonderful saucy prego’s, the enduring queue for 2nd’s & 3rd’s being testament to their popularity.

If the measure of a party is the time it shuts down, this was certainly a goody … the last folk left well after 2AM!

Well done to Rudi, Rob and all the other Rats for a great performance, and a SPECIAL THANKS to VATS for hosting a lovely evening!


  • Rudi Hiesterman


  • Ken Bruyns

3Tie 3rd

  • Rob Love
  • Sophia Dower

Tie 5th

  • Brett Russell
  • Maureen Carr

Tie 7th

  • Christopher Cosgrove
  • Jeanette Odgers
  • Robyn Wallace
  • Wayne Brunyee



Those of you who were unable to make it last night missed a great event! We had over 70 people in total, and Geoff put on a challenging tasting for us.

The wines tasted were (in order):

  1. 2007 Chardonnay

  2. 2006 Weisser Riesling

  3. 2005 Semillon

  4. 2007 Sav Blanc

  5. 2005 Nebbiolo

  6. 2004 Syrah

  7. 2004 Cab Sav

  8. 2005 Pinotage

 Once again Cellar Rats were up to the task and we won the competition with 486 points to the VATS' 365. Well done Rats !!!


Cellar Rats top 10 scores were:

  1. Lucinda - 56
    (Best Taster of the evening & also the Best Novice taster)

  2. Sandri van Niekerk - 55 (novice)

  3. Mark "The Great" Connor - 51

  4. Yolanda Cresswell - 50

  5. Christopher Cosgrove - 50

  6. Craig Bracken - 49

  7. Andre Hough - 49 (novice)

  8. Petra Preuss - 47

  9. Ian Davidson - 40

  10. Ian Grant & Colleen Penhale- 39 (Ian & Colleen were tie for 10th)


CONGRATULATIONS to Lucinda … Best Taster & Best Novice! Yowser!


VATS' top 10 were:

  1. Bernd Sonnenberg - 50

  2. Athol Franz - 47

  3. Dave Moss - 42

  4. Roanne Towers (top VATS novice)

  5. Gail - 39 (novice)

  6. Ron Cheeseman - 37

  7. Duane - 37

  8. Donald Silburn - 28

  9. Sandra B - 23 (novice)

  10. Rob Shaw - 22

Thanks to all who arrived to make this a very enjoyable evening. SPECIAL THANKS to Geoff for putting the tasting together, and to Ian Grant for his scrummy spaghetti bolognaise! A lot of hard work went into this by both of them.

From everyone at Rats, thanks guys!!!




The turnout was great! Sixty-something folks there! Thanks to all, from both clubs, who participated!

Thanks to Vats for hosting the tasting and the lekka chicken prego rolls!

Thanks to our girls who pulled us “clear” and especially to Timna for an AWESOME score!

Top novice went to Ian Davidson – well done Ian!! (Don, we want you on our side next year :-> )

Apologies for any mis-spellings!

Rats vs Vats


































Rob S

































Ian D


Top Novice




Marguerite & Brett









Firstly, a huge thanks to all of you who came out on a chilly evening to support us! It certainly looked like everyone had a really good time, despite the weather.

Before I get into the results, I'd like to thank Geoff for selecting & presenting the wines, and Ian & Claire for braving the cold to cook up a bunch of delicious burgers for us! 'Twas much appreciated!

Now for the results:

Best Novice went to a VATS taster, Angela Chatfield, with 38 points out of a possible 80 - Well done! Our best novice was Ashley Cage who scored 37, only one point behind - Well done Ashley!

Christopher Cosgrove took the Best Taster of the evening with 57/80, a really good score. Chris got 6 of the 8 varietals correct, no mean feat considering what Geoff threw at us. It is also the 3rd time Chris has won Best Taster - In the history of the competition no one else has ever managed that!

And now for the winning club ... <DRUM ROLL PLEASE> ... VATS won, with 381 points to our 371, possibly the closest finish in the history of the event. WELL DONE VATS!

Our Top 10 Tasters were:

  • 57 - Christopher Cosgrove
  • 49 - Ian Grant (a remarkable comeback from last year, and joint 3rd overall!)
  • 40 - Jeanette
  • 39 - Cheryl Jennings
  • 37 - Ashley Cage (novice)
  • 31 - Duane Blaauw
  • 30 - Edward
  • 30 - Terry
  • 29 - Petra
  • 29 - Yolanda

Wines tasted were:

  1. Chardonnay, 2003 - Zondernaam (Tokara)
  2. Sauvignon Blanc (Blanc Fume), 2003 - Villiera Blanc Fume
  3. Chenin Blanc, 2005 - Teddy Hall Chenin Blanc
  4. Semillon, 2004 - Fairview Oom Pagel
  5. Merlot, 2004 - Groote Post
  6. Cabernet, 2000 - Mooiplaas
  7. Cabernet, 2004 - Laibach
  8. Shiraz, 2004 - Babylon's Peak

Thanks to everyone who helped arrange the event, and thanks to Sarah & Chris who both did a lot of work preparing us for the tasting!

And, finally, a message to VATS: "We'll be baaaaack!"



After our 2004 defeat, it was sweet victory for Cellar Rats again. It sure is great to have the trophy back! Final scores were 348 for Rats, and 307 for Vats, making it 6 wins out of 8 for Rats!

Although Geoff made it quite tough by putting in two Chenins and a Viogner and leaving out staples like Sav Blanc & Chardonnay, we had some fantastic scores, particularly from our top 3 tasters, Duane, Quentin and Shelley.

Our top 10 scores (out of a possible of 80) were:

49 - Duane Blaauw (Top Taster)
48 - Quentin Honey
40 - Shelley de Beer
32 - Terry Odgers
31 - Christopher Cosgrove
30 - Daniel Spies, Efthyia (Top Novice), Jane Davies
29 - Carl Wagner
29 - Sarie Wessels

Thanks to all of you who came and took part! If you did not make the top 10, take solace in the fact that many experienced tasters did not either, and many of those who did make it this year, did not feature last year. Wine tasting is a fickle thing!

Finally, thanks to VATS for hosting the event, and to all those who had a hand in making the food ... after a hard night's drinking it was greatly appreciated by all!

Here's looking forward to next year!


I couldn't put it better than Dave Moss: "What a great evening for everyone. 46 people for this function - 19 from Vats, 27 from Rats - The tasting was not easy.... as is most decision making in life!"
The top tasters were
Top Novice Taster- Shane Dean (Vats)
Top Taster of the Competition- Shane Dean (Vats)
Top Wine Club- Vats with 358 (Rats had 318)
To all the participants from Rats and Vats, just to say thank you!

Thanks also to Ian grant for all the effort with the burgers ... they were excellent!

Thanks to Geoff Carter for a challenging wine selection, well done Maestro!
Thanks to the Cellar Rats committee for organizing; well done!
And most heartiest CONGRATULATIONS to the winners and to all who took part in the tasting ... Awesome evening, thank you to all who attended, that was fun!

The top ten tasters from VATS are;

Shane Dean 50 (Top novice, top taster)
Owen McDonald 47
Dave 39
Liz 38
Arnauldo Ansermino 34
Laura 32
Kevin Ryan 30
Anneke 30
Craig 29
Mike /Deeanne 29

The top ten tasters from Cellar Rats are;

Rudi Hiestermann 40
Barry Alport 32
Graham Fleming 32
Keith Bowen 31
Sarah Newton 31
Daphne Raymer 31
Carmen Snow 31 (CR top novice)
Bianca Marais 30
Janine Fleming 30
Sam Linsell 30


Please note: The following should be sung to the tune of "We Are The Champions ... Again", that delightful ditty by Frikkie Mercury, cross-dressing queen of Yeoville
It was a dark and stormy night ... and VATS never knew what hit them!
Cellar Rats have made it five in a row ... we are now the undisputed heavyweight wine tasting sonofabitchfinkelsteinshithot-champions of Gauteng !!! (well, the northern suburbs at least)
Once again we made a clean sweep, taking honors for the Best Taster, Best Novice, and Top Club ... Congratulations go to Alexandra McConville (Best Taster) for her stunning score of 67(she got 7 of the 8 cultivars and 4 of the vintages correct). It goes to show what practice, hard work, and a robust liver can do ... WELL DONE ALEX!
Congratulations also go to Quentin (Best Novice) who scored a very respectable 40, putting him in our top 10 for the evening.
AND -  most importantly -   congratulations to EVERY Rats member who arrived at the tasting and supported us ... Our championship-winning score was 504 vs. VATS' 402 ... a veritable drubbing, a massacre, a right thumping! Surely this must go down in the annals of VATS history as "Black Tuesday"?
A special mention must go to Sarah Newton, without whose coaching we would no doubt have struggled - Thanks Sarah!
To put our victory in perspective, the top VATS taster of the evening scored 51 out of a possible 80 (a very respectable score by any standards) ... our AVERAGE score was 50.4!
As a Cellar Rats member you must certainly be thinking "Gosh, the air is thin up here!" .. and with good reason too! Five wins in a row, each more convincing than the last, is something we can be VERY proud of .... WELL DONE CELLAR RATS !
Top 10 Scores follow:
1. Alexandra McConville - 67 (Top taster overall)
2. Sarah Newton - 59
3. Rudi "I'm back on form" Hiestermann - 58
4. Jules Jackson - 50
5. Tim Jackson & Sam Linsell  - 49
7. Ian Grant - 48
8. Keith Bowen & Christopher Cosgrove - 42
10. Claire Grant, Jeanette Odgers, Quintin (top novice overall), Janine Fleming & Debbie McCormick - 40
Thanks to VATS for hosting a wonderful evening!


Well, the RATS vs VATS winetasting evening has come and gone. The tasting was attended by 27 RATS and 23 VATS and was presided over by Geoff Carter.
Geoff tested our blind-tasting skills with 8 South African single-varietal wines (4 white, 4 red), including one wicked curveball, a 2000 Malbec which no-one got correct!
The wines presented follow:
Rupert and Rothschild Baronness Nadine Chardonnay 1998
Excelsior Sauvignon Blanc 2001
Groote Post Chenin Blanc 2001
Villiera Rhine Riesling 2001
Bushman's Creek Shiraz 1998
Ashanti Malbec 2000
Paul Cluver Pinot Noir 2000
L'Avenir Pinotage 2000
On paper the tasting looks quite straight forward, but the reds had many people well confused, as did the older Chardonnay. As mentioned, not one person got the Malbec correct.
Prizes were awarded for the best "novice" taster, as well as for the best overall taster and the winning club.
And the prizes went to ...
<drum roll, please>
Top Novice (and tie 2nd highest score of the evening) went to Yves Du Bois of Cellar Rats with a brilliant score of 58 from a possible 80.
Top Taster went (eventually!) to myself with 66/80.
And the one result that we were all waiting for .... Top Club, with a score of 512 vs 477, went to CELLAR RATS ...  for the 4th consecutive year!
Cellar Rats top 10 tasters were : (scores between 38 and 66)

1. Terry Odgers
2. Yves du Bois
3. Debbie McCormick
4. Shelley de Beer
5. Alexandra McConville
6. Tim Jackson
7. Sarah Newton
8. Ian Grant
9. Jeanette Gombert
10. Claire Grant/Julia Jackson (tied on the tiebreak as well)
What was really satisfying to see was that, of the top ten tasters, all but one (Alex) had attended the practice tasting - Maybe practice DOES make perfect?
As always, this tasting evening was a lot of fun and it's continued success can only be ascribed to the good sportsmanship which both teams exhibit.
It was wonderful to host the event at our venue this year and I'm sure I speak on behalf of all who attended when I say we all look forward to next years tasting evening to be hosted by VATS!
Thanks to the committee members (of both clubs) for the hard work and effort they put in to make this the success it was. Thanks also to Alex for her extra effort on color coding the score sheets and to Ian for standing in the cold and cooking 90 burgers while the rest of us drank in the (relative) warmth of the clubhouse. Thanks all!