This year’s Standard Bank/Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge attracted 136 entries and the judges have chosen their favorites.
The five-member judging panel, tasting all submissions blind, short-listed 33 wines for consideration before deciding on the ten eventual winners.
The judging panel comprised five judges, including one international judge, and an associate, whose score was not considered but who was there to learn and to contribute to the discussion.
This year’s panel 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)
The CBA has been running the annual Standard Bank/Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge since 2014 and is working across various fronts to raise the reputation of Chenin Blanc, South Africa’s most widely planted varietal.
These efforts have played a key role in establishing the country’s quality credentials amongst international wine critics, writers and other influencers in recent years, with Chenin Blanc now widely recognised as South Africa’s calling card.
The winning wines, produced by nine cellars, came from seven wine-growing areas – the Cederberg, Stellenbosch, Paarl, Swartland, Tygerberg, Durbanville and Darling.
Featuring five newcomers to the Top 10 list, the 2017 winners are, in alphabetical order:
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
Each of these wines earns 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”.
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.”
She noted that this year marked the fourth time that Perdeberg has made it onto the Top 10 list with consecutive vintages of its Dry Land Barrel Fermented Courageous Chenin Blanc.
Spier had also appeared on the list every one of the four years but with different expressions of the varietal.
Van Zyl also pointed out that interestingly, since the inception of the competition, just one unwooded wine had made it onto the Top 10 list.