Press release below:
The winners of the inaugural Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge have been revealed. The announcement made in Stellenbosch this past week has again highlighted the excellence of these South African white wines.
“Finally South Africa’s iconic white wines are getting the recognition they deserve and this Top 10 is just a snapshot of the greatness that awaits wine drinkers,” says winemaker Ken Forrester, chairman of the Chenin Blanc Association. “Behind these ten great wines are another ten and behind them another ten, Chenin Blanc is an exciting journey and a grape whose time has come.”
There were 126 wines entered for assessment by a panel of experienced wine judges. The wines were tasted blind and narrowed down over another two tastings to arrive at the 10 best scoring wines.
The Top 10 wines are listed below, followed by the cellar door price and an extract from the panel’s tasting report:
- Bellingham The Old Orchard’s 2013 (R95) – “Rich and ripe”;
- Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2013 (R141) – “Very stylish”;
- KWV The Mentors 2012 (R160) – “Concentrated and pure”;
- Perdeberg The Dry Land Collection Barrel Fermented 2013 (R73) “A powerful but well balanced wine”;
- Remhoogte Honeybunch Reserve 2013 (R150) – “A good line of acidity ensures balance”;
- Rijk’s Cellars Private Cellar 2009 (R130) – “A blockbuster”;
- Simonsig Chenin Avec Chêne 2010 (R110) – “Really well executed”;
- Spier Woolworths Private Collection 2013 (Woolworths price: R109.95) – “Totally seductive”;
- Stellenrust 2014 (R44) – “Really flavourful”; and
- Villiera Traditional Barrel Fermented 2014 (R94.50) – “Shows real finesse and balance”.
“There’s general consensus that Chenin Blanc is a ‘first division’ grape,” says judging panel chairman, Christian Eedes. Pointing out the disproportionately large number of old vines compared to other varieties, he adds: “The potential is obvious.”
“Variations in soil, aspect and micro-climate across often very short distances, coupled with increasingly confident and imaginative winemaking, means that Chenin Blanc will always manifest a plethora of styles, drinking well from bargain basement to top-end,” says Eedes.
Also on the panel were wine judging authorities: London-based wine writer Jamie Goode; Cape Wine Master Alan Mullins, head of the Woolworths (SA) Wine Department; Carrie Adams, partner at Norman Goodfellows Fine Wine & Spirit Merchants; Higgo Jacobs, certified with the Court of Master Sommeliers; and, associate judge Gregory Mutambe, sommelier from the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa.
Willie du Plessis, Head of Business Banking Western Cape at Standard Bank, congratulated the winners of the inaugural event. “Standard Bank is proud to be associated with such a prestigious event that aims to celebrate and honour the finest Chenin Blanc wines produced in our country. South Africa is known for its top quality wines and has claimed a spot as one of the biggest wine producers in the world. It is up to the future generation of wine producers to work hard to uphold our status and further steer South Africa to even greater heights, by innovating and producing wines of the highest quality and standards.
“We have great talent in our country and it need to be nurtured – the Standard Bank/Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge does exactly that. We would like to congratulate all the winners and encourage them to continue breaking new ground and actively contribute to the economy and job creation.”
Standard Bank announced its support as headline sponsor in a three-year agreement earlier this year. Winners will receive R20 000 each and the money must be used to reinforce the economic and social benefits in the workplace to the workforce.
Grant Thornton audited the competition.