Chenin blanc top 10 challenge 2020 winners

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

Mr 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. It’s their way of showing support for our industry during these difficult times. Make no mistake, they do so, not as an act of charity but as a mark of respect for and confidence in our wines.”

Speaking on behalf of the judges, panel chair James Pietersen said this year’s top ten 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 ten 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.”

He 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.

Mr Pietersen said that while the composition of the judging panel was deliberately changed each year to allow for fresh perspectives, “the appearance of some of the same producers year after year speaks to a consistency of attributes sought by the judges, whomever they are. Nevertheless, the line-up also shows there is ample accommodation of new players.”

Sponsor Standard Bank will be awarding a cash prize of R25 000 for each of the winning wines. According to the competition stipulations, the money goes towards producer projects intended to “reinforce economic and social benefits in the workplace”.

The winning wines retail from R68 a bottle to R430.

Listed alphabetically, the winners are:

Alvi’s Drift Private Cellar 221 Chenin Blanc 2019

Alvi’s Drift Private Cellar Albertus Viljoen Chenin Blanc 2019

Badsberg Wine Cellar Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2019

DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc 2019

Durbanville Hills Collectors Reserve The Cape Garden Chenin Blanc 2019

Kaapzicht Kliprug Chenin Blanc 2019

Mulderbosch Vineyards Single Vineyard Chenin Blanc Block S2 2018

Spier Wines 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2019

Stellenrust Chenin Blanc 2019

Stellenrust Stellenbosch Manor Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2019