10 winning South African Chenin Blanc wines for your next dinner party

The winners of the Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top Ten Challenge have been announced, with the spread of vineyards contributing to this year’s line-up showing just how adaptable the grape is,said Chenin Blanc Association (CBA) chairman, Ken Forrester.

“From Stellenbosch to Worcester, Breedekloof and the cooler-climate Durbanville, these wines really do demonstrate Chenin’s ability to successfully put down roots in a variety of growing conditions. With the mounting impact of climate change worldwide, it’s not surprising that so many growers in the Americas and Australasia are now looking to it as the grape of their future, too”.

Forrester said South Africa’s critical and commercial success with Chenin was inspiring many producers around the world.

“It’s why there has been such a groundswell of interest in the International Chenin Blanc Summit to be hosted in South Africa next year.  At the same time, it’s why our Chenins have become the go-to choice for so many consumers in export markets,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the judges, panel chair James Pietersen said this year’s top 10 were sourced mainly from mature vines, with some as old as 48 years.

“From the 136 wines we assessed we found a clear link between wine quality and older, established vines. Seven of the top 10 wines were harvested from vines 35 years’ old at the very least, and in another instance the age of the vines ranged between 25 and 40 years.

“Across the spectrum of styles, we noticed an appealing freshness and vivaciousness. Part of the reason was the impact of nuanced, sophisticated oaking, with some producers this year introducing larger 1 500-litre and 2 500-litre barrels to their wood regimes.”

Pietersen said there were three newcomers to the Top Ten line-up. First-timer Alvi’s Drift delivered two of the winning wines. The other producers to debut were Badsberg and Kaapzicht.

“Remarkably, Stellenrust, with two wines this year – one the unwooded expression – is the only producer to have featured on the challenge every year since its inception in 2014.  DeMorgenzon and Spier have also been regular winners, while all the others on the list have also made multiple appearances.”

The winning wines retail from R68 a bottle to R430.

Read: 10 top Chenin Blanc wines produced in South Africa

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10 winning South African Chenin Blanc wines for your next dinner party