With 10% more entries into this year’s Standard Bank/Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge, there’s clearly a growing interest in creating fantastic South African Chenins. All the major wine-producing areas were represented by the entries, and the five-member judging panel tasted all submissions blind before shortlisting 33 wines for consideration. From these 33 they selected the ten winners, which are…

  • Cederberg Private Cellar Five Generations Chenin Blanc 2015 (debut): R220
  • DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc 2016: R350
  • Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Chenin Blanc 2016 (debut): R130
  • Nederburg Heritage Heroes The Anchorman Chenin Blanc 2016 (debut): R150
  • Perdeberg Winery The Dry Land Collection Courageous Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2016: R86
  • Spice Route Chenin Blanc 2016 (debut): R110
  • Spier Wines 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2016: R185
  • Stellenrust 52 Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2016: R200
  • Stellenrust 51 Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2015: R500
  • Windmeul Kelder Chenin Blanc Reserve 2016 (debut): R80

“The very narrow margin in the scores between those who did and didn’t make the final cut reflects an exciting level of excellence in South African Chenins,” said Ken Forrester, chairman of the Chenin Blanc Association (CBA). “It’s thrilling to see how many local winemakers are so clearly and creatively expressing the world-class potential of this varietal.”

Chenin Blanc is SA’s most widely planted varietal, and the CBA has been running this competition since 2014 as part of their initiatives to establish Chenin Blanc as the country’s calling card amongst international wine critics, writers and other influencers in recent years.

Each of the wines that made the top 10 list earn a prize of R25 000 for the producer that must, in terms of the competition regulations, be used “to reinforce economic and social benefits in the workplace”.

“We want the accolade to have meaning for the workers as well as the brand owners as we are honouring their collective contributions,” said Standard Bank’s Du Plessis.

Five of the winning wines were produced from vines 40 years and older.  This was not surprising, said panel chair Cathy van Zyl, given that 52% of all South African vines aged 35 and older were Chenin Blanc. “Seven of the 2017 winners come from vineyards older than 30 years and eight from vines at least 20 years’ old.”

The panel’s five members were:

  • Cathy van Zyl MW (chair)
  • Richard Kershaw MW (winemaker)
  • James Pietersen (retailer, Wine Cellar)
  • Tinashe Nyamudoka (sommelier, Test Kitchen)
  • Lauren Buzzeo (managing editor and tasting director, Wine Enthusiast)
  • Associate judge: Marlvin Gwese (sommelier, Cape Grace)

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