Tim Atkin, award-winning journalist and Master of Wine, has released his sixth annual guide to South Africa, and says that he believes the Cape is making the best wine in its 358 year history and that its industry is “dynamic, exciting and still evolving”.

South Africa, he says, is “a match for any other New World country in terms of quality and ahead of the field on value”, and says that “the country needs to charge more for its wines, and we should be prepared to pay for such excellence.”

While 2016 was one of the hottest and driest on record, leading to a “very tricky” vintage, Atkin says that the best producers have made excellent wines, with 76 of his 149 wines of the year from 2016. He singles out Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cinsaut and sparkling Méthode Cap Classique wines for special praise this year, but adds that “the Cape is capable of making almost any wine style to a very high standard”.

His report runs to over 200 pages, and is the product of two trips to the Cape this year as well as tastings in the UK and Germany. The report, is available for download from www.timatkin.com for R340, and includes scores for over 1400 wines and 1100 tasting notes.

Atkin has also named his Overall Wines and Winemakers of the Year:

  • Winemakers of the year: Chris and Andrea Mullineux
  • Young Winemaker of the year: Mark Le Roux
  • Winemaking Legend: Neil Ellis
  • Overall White Wine of the Year: 2016 Sadie Family Kokerboom, Olifants River
  • Overall Red Wine of the Year: 2015 Beeslaar Pinotage, Stellenbosch
  • Overall Sweet Wine of the Year: 2012 Mullineux & Leeu Essence, Swartland
  • Overall Fortified Wine of the Year: 2015 De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve, Calitzdorp
  • Overall Sparkling Wine of the Year: 2011 Graham Beck Cuvée Clive, Western Cape
  • White Wine Discovery of the Year: 2016 Rall Ava Chenin Blanc, Swartland
  • Red Wine Discovery of the Year: 2015 Gabriëlskloof The Landscape Series Cabernet Franc, Bot River
  • Best Value White of the Year: 2017 Swartland Winery Limited Release Roussanne
  • Best Value Red of the Year: 2014 Onderkloof Cabernet Franc, Stellenbosch
  • Best Value Sparkling Wine of the Year: Villiera Tradition Brut NV, Stellenbosch

Some of the wines which received scores over 90 points include:

  • The Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 and MPHS 2012 both scored 92; and Alto Rouge 2015 and Shiraz 2015 scored 91.
  • Nederburg’s Two Centuries Sauvignon Blanc 2016 scored 93, Nederburg Heritage Heroes The Young Airhawk 2016 was scored 92, Nederburg’s The Winemasters Noble Late Harvest 2016 scored 91,  Nederburg’s Heritage Heroes The Anchorman 2016 scored 90 points, Nederburg’s Ingenuity trio of innovative blends each scored 90 points, as did the Two Centuries Cabernet Sauvignon 2013.
  • From Neethlingshof’s Short Story Collection,  The Maria 2016 scored 93, while The Owl Post Pinotage 2015 scored 92, The Six Flowers 2016 scored 90. The Neethlingshof Gewürztraminer 2016 scored 91.
  • Gabriëlskloof Landscape Series Cabernet Franc 2015 scored 96 points
  • Eikendal’s Classique 2015 scored 95 points, the Charisma 2015 scored 94, the Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Chardonnay 2015, Merlot 2015 and Pinotage 2016 all scored 93, and the Sauvignon Blanc 2016 scored 91.

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