10 top Chenin Blanc wines produced in South Africa

The winners of the 2019 Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge have been revealed.

Chenin is believed to have originated around 500 years ago, being the offspring of two French white grapes, Savagnin and Sauvignonasse.

While previously grown almost exclusively in South Africa and in France, it is now cultivated in 23 countries and has become the world’s 26th most planted variety, covering somewhere between 33,000 and 36,000 hectares.

South Africa accounts for most plantings at just over 17,000 hectares.

According to Ina Smith, manager of the Chenin Blanc Association, the 10 winners in this year’s challenge provide ample evidence of South Africa’s major advances with the variety – so much so that it’s influencing other winemakers.

The association’s chairman, Ken Forrester said a key takeout from a recent international Chenin Blanc congress, held in Angers, France, was that the Chenin excellence attained by many South African winemakers in recent years had prompted the French to give more serious attention to the grape.

“What’s important is that increasing critical and academic attention is good for Chenin wherever it is produced,” he said.

The 2019 Standard Bank challenge winners were chosen from 150 entries submitted by 87 producers.

The majority of the top 10 were sourced from vines 30 years and older, including one, made from vines planted 55 years ago.

Five of the top ten had been produced from Stellenbosch vines, with the others using fruit from the Cederberg, Durbanville, Paarl, Slanghoek and Wellington.

The average price per bottle for the winning wines had risen to R255.80 this year, compared with the average in 2018 of R200.

“South African winemakers producing to world-class standards certainly deserve fair compensation and with prices starting at R108, there is still very good value to be found on the list of winners,” said Stephan van der Merwe, a Standard Bank lead in the Western Cape.

Standard Bank has awarded a cash prize of R25,000 for each of the winning wines to be spent by producers in a way that “reinforces economic and social benefits in the workplace”.

The winners are in alphabetical order:

Cederberg Cellars Five Generations Chenin Blanc 2017

DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc 2018

Durbanville Hills Collector’s Reserve The Cape Garden Chenin Blanc 2018 (new)

Flagstone Winery Tributary Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2018 (new)

Ken Forrester Wines The FMC 2018 (new)

Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Chenin Blanc 2018

Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Chenin Blanc 2018

Rijk’s Cellar Touch of Oak Chenin Blanc 2017

Slanghoek Wynkelder Legends Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2017

Stellenrust The Mothership Chenin Blanc 2018

Read: South Africa’s best wines in 2019

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10 top Chenin Blanc wines produced in South Africa