Cape Point Vineyards winemaker Duncan Savage has described his devastation after giving back one of South Africa’s most illustrious wine awards because of an unwitting breach of the rules.

Savage had been named as 2008 Diners Club International Winemaker of the Year for his flagship white blend, Isliedh 2006.

But it transpired that the rules had been broken because fewer than 250 cases were available in South Africa when its victory was announced.

‘It is every winemaker’s dream to be adjudged the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year,’ said Savage. ‘The dream has turned into a nightmare after an unfortunate sequence of events left me with no choice but to stand down.’

He added: ‘My decision to step down was immediate. Diners Club Winemaker of the Year is South Africa’s most prestigious wine competition. The scroll of past winners contains the names of the finest winemakers this country has produced.

‘It is not a list I – nor anyone to whom the South African wine industry is dear – wishes to see tarnished by any indiscretion whatsoever. Even an honest mistake.’

Competition media sponsor WINE magazine said future entrants would be subject to an independent audit to prevent a repeat. ‘We are busy investigating a replacement winner and will make the outcome known as soon as possible,’ it added.

Written by Richard Woodard