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Tim Atkin Hails Two SA Vintages as Arguably the Best Ever


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Due to the three-year drought, winemakers in the Cape have had to adapt and be innovative in their process of creating world-class wine. All this hard work has paid off. Award-winning British journalist and 'Master of Wine' Tim Atkin has proclaimed that the 2015 and 2017 vintages have produced a brilliant series of wines that surpass anything in the country’s long history.

In his seventh annual guide to South Africa, Atkin says that these two years have produced two of the best ever harvests in the Cape. This is reflected in the high scores he has given three wines that were made during this time period.

Atkin has awarded his first-ever 100-point score in the New World to the 2015 Kanonkop Paul Sauer. He awarded 99 points to 2017 Alheit Vineyards Magnetic North and 2017 Sadie Family ’T Voetpad. On scoring these wines so high, Atkins says: 'I don’t give very high scores lightly,' he says, 'but these three stunning, world-class wines have earned it.'

For Atkin, the South African wine industry is case for national optimism and pride, particularly for thriving at a time of political and economic uncertainty. He says: 'The severe three-year drought reduced yields severely in some regions, but didn’t affect the quality of the wines, especially the 2015 reds and the 2017 whites.'

Alto Winemaker Bertho van der Westhuizen

The whites that caught Atkin's attention include Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon and white blends. He also praises Bordeaux red blends, Cabernet Franc, Cinsault and Syrah in the red-wine category.

Atkins says that the smaller crops may enable South Africa to charge more in export markets, but does comment that the price of Cape wines are still too low for the long-term good of the industry. Yet, it is still good to see that the South African wine industry continues to be world class, no matter the circumstances.