Produced by nine different cellars and hailing from seven of South Africa’s wine-growing areas – Cederberg, Stellenbosch, Paarl, Swartland, Tygerberg, Durbanville and Darling – this year’s Standard Bank/Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge winners are a diverse bunch. And what’s more, they include three wines that retail for R110 and under per bottle, making it possible for wine lovers who don’t have especially deep pockets to sample several award-winning wines this spring.
The competition attracted a total of 136 entries, which were adjudicated through blind tasting by a highly knowledgeable five-member judging panel. Of the entries, 33 wines were short-listed for consideration before the 10 winners were selected, five of which are newcomers to the list.
‘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.’
The CBA has been running the annual Standard Bank/Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge since 2014 and is working on 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 among international wine critics, writers and other influencers in recent years, with Chenin Blanc now widely recognised as South Africa’s calling card.
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’. Says Willie du Plessis, Standard Bank SA’s executive head of business banking for the Western Cape, ‘We want the accolade to have meaning for the workers as well as the brand owners as we are honouring their collective contributions.’