Tim Atkin MW says SA’s best wines ‘belong among the world’s elite’ 

Boekenhoutskloof Barrel Maturation Cellar
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BRACE yourselves…Tim Atkin MW releases his 10th South Africa Report today, with Chenin Blanc and Stellenbosch wines showing particularly well, and he contends the 2021 vintage could rank as one of the Cape’s best to date.

“Overall, I am extremely impressed with the quality of what I tasted in 2022, especially from the 2017 and 2021 vintages. I am more convinced than ever that 2017 deserves its place among the best-ever Cape harvests, as good as and, in some cases, even better than 2015. But I have a feeling that 2021 could equal and possibly surpass it.”

Tim Atkin

Atkin is “amazed by the remarkable progress” the country has made since his first report issued in 2013 and is urging producers “to take great pride in Brand South Africa”. This is as 8.5% of the record 2 282 wines tasted from 433 wineries garner scores of 95 or higher. For several producers to feature on this list of 195 wines, it is a first-time achievement.

“South Africans are a resilient bunch, but I was amazed by how the wine sector has bounced back after so many pandemic-induced setbacks. Producers are still pushing viticultural boundaries in places like Sutherland, Stanford, as well as the Koo Plateau and the Agulhas Triangle and, at the top end, growing grapes that express their terroir with increasing fidelity and precision across the Western Cape,” said Atkin.

Kevin Arnold

Stand-out categories among the top-scoring wines this year are not only Chenin and Shiraz/Syrah as in the recent past, he says, but also Bordeaux blends, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. “South Africa has proved it can make almost any wine style well, while its best wines belong among the world’s elite,” he said.

“There is also a very interesting dynamic at play. Greater numbers of younger-generation winemakers are excelling, and prompting some of the more established producers to innovate more. All round, these developments suggest that South Africa remains one of the most exciting wine-producing countries with still so much potential to reveal.”

He notes the extent to which the country’s socio-political transformation is gathering momentum, bringing more people of colour into pivotal positions within the wine industry. Also encouraging is the strong commitment to addressing climate change with new approaches to rootstocks, trellising systems, cover crops and ploughing techniques to see what works best in drier conditions, while giving greater focus to drought-resistant varieties, from Assyrtiko to Vermentino.

Mullineux family in the vineyards

Stellenbosch can reaffirm its pre-eminent regional position, as the source of a third of all the top-scoring wines, Atkin confirms, followed at some distance by the Swartland.

While no wine achieves a perfect score of 100 points this year, two 2020 wines earn scores of 99. One white and one red, they are the Boekenhoutskloof Semillon and Sadie Family’s Columella. (Eben Sadie, who regularly garners amongst the highest Tim Atkin ratings, has twice been crowned Winemaker of the Year, in 2015 and again in 2019.)  This year, there are 10 wines that score 98 each.

To purchase the report, where more detail can be found, click here.

THE PODIUM 2022 (TOP ACHIEVERS):

  • Winemaker of the Year: Duncan Savage of Savage Wines
  • Young Winemaker of the Year: Charla Bosman of Sijnn
  • Viticulturist of the Year: Sheldon van Wyk
  • Producers’ Cellar of the Year: Darling Cellars
  • Winemaking Legend: Kevin Arnold
  • Best Cellar Door Experience: Benguela Cove
  • Overall White Wine of the Year: 2020 Boekenhoutskloof Semillon, Franschhoek
  • Overall Red Wine of the Year: 2020 Sadie Family Columella, Swartland
  • Overall Rosé of the Year: 2021 Lievland Liefkoos Rosé, Stellenbosch
  • Overall Sparkling Wine of the Year: 2015 Graham Beck Cuvée Clive Magnum, Western Cape
  • Overall Sweet Wine of the Year: NV Mullineux Olerasay Straw Wine #3, Swartland
  • Overall Fortified Wine of the Year: 2005 Boplaas Cape Tawny Single Harvest Colheita, Calitzdorp
  • Red Wine Discovery of the Year: 2019 Kershaw Syrah Deconstructed Groenland Bokkeveld Shale SH22, Elgin
  • White Wine Discovery of the Year: 2021 Rall Noa Chenin Blanc, Swartland
  • Sparkling Wine Discovery of the Year: 2014 Le Lude Venus Brut Nature, Western Cape
  • Best Value White of the Year: 2021 Paul Cluver Village Chardonnay, Elgin
  • Best Value Red of the Year: 2021 Brookdale Mason Road Syrah, Paarl
  • Best Value Rosé of the Year: 2021 Dieu Donné Blanc de Noir, Franschhoek
  • Best Value Sparkling Wine of the Year: 2013 Bon Courage Jacques Bruère Brut Reserve, Robertson
  • Best Value Sweet Wine of the Year: 2020 Slanghoek Winery Crème de Chenin, Slanghoek
  • Best Value Fortified Wine of the Year: NV KWV Classic Cape Tawny, Western Cape
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