With five newcomers and five regulars in the top 10 list, the 2018 Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 has been announced at a time of huge optimism in the grape variety. In fact, South Africa has more chenin blanc under vine than any other country in the world

“Chenin has come of age,” said chairman of the Chenin Blanc Association, Ken Forrester. “No longer just a niche grape loved by of the wine fraternity, it is acquiring a mainstream following.  More and more people are believing in it, buying it, drinking it and talking about it,” he said referring to the record number of entries in this year’s challenge, the growth in sales of Chenin Blanc this year, and the global reach of a recent social media campaign.

He said this year’s 159 submissions represented an increase of 17% on the 2017 challenge entry numbers, while year-on-year, local sales and exports of Chenin Blanc varietal wines are on the rise. Forrester also highlighted the success of the #DrinkChenin day social media campaign to mark June 15 as International Chenin Day that generated 4.9 million impressions.

“The versatility of Chenin, its diversity of wine styles and its great food-friendliness, all point towards its rising acceptance among local consumers.  This is in line with the growing international interest in the grape, increasingly seen abroad as South Africa’s calling card.”

The challenge drew 113 wooded and 46 unwooded entries, all tasted blind by the five-member panel, with 27 wines shortlisted for the final top ten line-up.

Cathy van Zyl MW, the chairman of the judges, said that the winning wines were largely but not exclusively sourced from older vineyards. “While one of the winners comes from 12-year old vines, the others come from vines that are older than 27 years. Indeed, the oldest vineyard in the line-up is 65-years’ old.”

Pointing to the availability of Chenin excellence at accessible prices, Willie du Plessis, Standard Bank SA’s executive head of business banking for the Western Cape, noted that the average price of the top 10 wines was R200. “These world-class wines offer outstanding value, with winners retailing at R70, R90, R120 before rising to the highest price of R375.”

He confirmed a prize of R25 000 for each of the winning wines. The money would need “to reinforce economic and social benefits in the workplace”, in accordance with the conditions of the challenge.  “We believe the honour of making it onto the Top Ten list should extend to the workers as well as the brand owners.”

The winning wines listed alphabetically are:

  • Cederberg Private Cellar Five Generations Chenin Blanc 2016
  • DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc 2017
  • Jean Daneel Wines Signature Chenin Blanc 2016 (debut)
  • Leopard’s Leap Culinaria Chenin Blanc 2016
  • Mulderbosch Vineyards Chenin Blanc Steen op Hout 2017 (debut)
  • Slanghoek Wynkelder Legends Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2016 (debut)
  • Spier Wines 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2017
  • Stellenrust ‘53’ Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2017
  • Wellington Wines La Cave Chenin Blanc 2016 (debut)
  • Wildekrans Barrel Select Chenin Blanc Reserve 2017 (debut)

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