2019 Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top Ten Challenge Winners
This year’s winners of the Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge provide ample evidence of South Africa’s major advances with the variety, according to Ina Smith, manager of the Chenin Blanc Association.
“The growing focus on Chenin by international tastemakers has undoubtedly raised the quality benchmark,” says the association’s chairman, Ken Forrester. “It’s fair to say that the recent international Chenin Blanc congress, held in Angers, France, demonstrated to delegates just how far South African producers have succeeded with the variety, in terms of both quality and stylistic range. We think you will find convincing expression of this in the 2019 Challenge line-up, chosen from 150 entries submitted by 87 producers.”
Forrester said a key takeout from the congress in Angers, the home of Chenin Blanc in 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. He highlighted a recent comment by British critic, Tim Atkin MW, writing for Harpers, that: “The French may be reluctant to admit it, yet I think that South Africa’s achievements with Chenin have influenced winemakers in Anjou and Touraine, the way that Argentinian Malbec has inspired Cahors and promoted links between the two”.
“What’s important,” added Forrester, “is that increasing critical and academic attention is good for Chenin wherever it is produced.”
He pointed to new research confirming that Chenin, believed to have originated around 500 years ago, was the offspring of two French white grapes, Savagnin and Sauvignonasse.
While previously grown almost exclusively by South Africa and France, it is now cultivated in 23 countries and has become the world’s 26th most planted variety, covering somewhere between 33 000 hectares and 36 000 ha. South Africa accounts for most plantings, totalling just over 17 000 ha.
The Standard Bank/Chenin Blanc Top 10
Challenge 2019 winning wines.
Commenting on this year’s winners, judging chair, Cathy van Zyl MW said the majority of the top ten were sourced from vines 30 years and older, including one, made from vines planted 55 years ago. “However, there were also wines made from vines just 10 and eight years’ old, demonstrating what good winegrowing and winemaking can achieve.” Five of the top ten had been produced from Stellenbosch vines, with the others using fruit from the Cederberg, Durbanville, Paarl, Slanghoek and Wellington.
Stephan van der Merwe, who heads Standard Bank’s commercial banking arm in the Western Cape, said he was encouraged to see that 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.”
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, in alphabetical order, were:
• 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
Snapshot of winning wines:
||33% new French
||20% new French
||Collector's Reserve The Cape Garden
||30% new oak, mostly French, 4% American
||Tributary Bush Vine
||70% new French
||39, 32 years
||58% new French
||Older French oak
||Older French oak
||Touch of Oak
||Older French oak
||Legends Barrel Fermented
||50% new French
38% concrete egg
2019 Judging Panel:
Cathy van Zyl MW (chair)
Richard Kershaw MW
James Pietersen (Wine Cellar)
Joseph Dhafana (La Colombe)
Fabien Laine (French-based former sommelier, wine judge, social media entrepreneur)
Penelope Setti (Chef’s Warehouse)
- Associate Judge
2018 Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top Ten Challenge Winners
Pure fruit, more texture, greater structure, versatility and pushed boundaries is what Chenin Blanc is all about. True to form, that is what the Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge uncovered at this third successive competition.
News of the Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge winners for
2018, featuring five newcomers and five regulars, comes in the wake of
unprecedented optimism in the grape variety.
“Chenin has come of
age,” said chairman of the Chenin Blanc Association, Ken Forrester. “No
longer just a niche grape loved by of the wine fraternity, it is
acquiring a mainstream following. More and more people are believing in
it, buying it, drinking it and talking about it,” he said referring to
the record number of entries in this year’s challenge, the growth in
sales of Chenin Blanc this year, and the global reach of a recent social
He said this year’s 159 submissions represented
an increase of 17% on the 2017 challenge entry numbers, while
year-on-year, local sales and exports of Chenin Blanc varietal wines are
on the rise. Forrester also highlighted the success of the #DrinkChenin
day social media campaign to mark June 15 as International Chenin Day
that generated 4.9 million impressions.
“The versatility of
Chenin, its diversity of wine styles and its great food-friendliness,
all point towards its rising acceptance among local consumers. This is
in line with the growing international interest in the grape,
increasingly seen abroad as South Africa’s calling card.”
Africa has more Chenin Blanc under vine than any other country in the
The challenge drew 113 wooded and 46 unwooded entries, all
tasted blind by the five-member panel, with 27 wines shortlisted for the
final top ten line-up.
Cathy van Zyl MW, the chairman of the
judges, said that the winning wines were largely but not exclusively
sourced from older vineyards. “While one of the winners comes from
12-year old vines, the others come from vines that are older than 27
years. Indeed, the oldest vineyard in the line-up is 65-years’ old.”
The judging panel of this year’s Standard Bank/Chenin Blanc Top 10
Challenge comprised (from left to right): Tinashe Nyamudoka, James
Pietersen, Richard Kershaw MW, Cathy van Zyl MW (chair), Simon Field
(MW) and Spencer Fondaumiere (associate judge).
Fruit for the winning wines was sourced from as far afield as the
Cederberg, Stellenbosch including Bottelary and Faure, Darling, Elgin,
Durbanville, the Swartland, specifically Voor-Paardeberg, Perdeberg,
Malmesbury, Tygerberg, Slanghoek, Wellington and Bot River.
wine consultant Simon Field MW, a specialist on wines from the Loire in
France, where Chenin originates and the only foreign judge on the panel,
was impressed with the line-up of what he called very polished,
palatable and professional wines and their multiplicity of expression.
“A definitively South African Chenin style was apparent to me - riper,
more fruit-forward and floral, with qualities of nectarine and other
yellow fruit, some beeswax and honey. The whole experience gave me a
fascinating new perspective on Chenin.”
Pointing to the
availability of Chenin excellence at accessible prices, Willie du
Plessis, Standard Bank SA's executive head of business banking for the
Western Cape, noted that the average price of the top 10 wines was R200.
“These world-class wines offer outstanding value, with winners retailing
at R70, R90, R120 before rising to the highest price of R375.”
He confirmed a prize of R25 000 for each of the winning wines. The money
would need "to reinforce economic and social benefits in the workplace",
in accordance with the conditions of the challenge. "We believe the
honour of making it onto the Top Ten list should extend to the workers
as well as the brand owners.”
The winning wines listed
• Cederberg Private Cellar Five Generations
Chenin Blanc 2016
• DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc 2017
Daneel Wines Signature Chenin Blanc 2016 (debut)
• Leopard’s Leap
Culinaria Chenin Blanc 2016
• Mulderbosch Vineyards Chenin Blanc
Steen op Hout 2017 (debut)
• Slanghoek Wynkelder Legends Barrel
Fermented Chenin Blanc 2016 (debut)
• Spier Wines 21 Gables Chenin
• Stellenrust ‘53’ Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2017
Wellington Wines La Cave Chenin Blanc 2016 (debut)
Barrel Select Chenin Blanc Reserve 2017 (debut)
featured amongst the Top Ten every year since the inception of the
challenge in 2014 and DeMorgenzon, every year since 2015. Stellenrust
has been in the line-up every year since 2014, with the exception of
2016. This year marks the third time Leopard’s Leap has appeared.
SA Champions hailed in inaugral
2017 Standard Bank/Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge Winners
The 2017 Standard Bank/Chenin Blanc Top 10
Challenge attracted 136 entries, up almost 10% on 2016, with all the
major wine-producing areas represented. The five-member judging panel,
tasting all submissions blind, short-listed 33 wines for consideration
before deciding on the ten eventual winners.
The CBA has been
running the annual Standard Bank/Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge since
2014 and is working across various fronts to raise the reputation of
Chenin Blanc, South Africa's most widely planted varietal. These efforts
have played a key role in establishing the country's quality credentials
amongst international wine critics, writers and other influencers in
recent years, with Chenin Blanc now widely recognised as South Africa's
backs South Africa's most planted Grape Variety - Chenin Blanc
The Chenin Blanc Association of South Africa is proud to announce the
signing of a three year sponsorship agreement with Standard Bank in
support of a Top 10 Chenin Blanc Competition, to be known as the
Standard Bank/Chenin Blanc Top Ten Challenge.
The Chenin Blanc Association of South Africa represents around 120
premium South African Chenin Blanc producers.
The reward to the top 10 winners will be financial and specifically
designed to reinforce the economic and social benefits to the workplace
and workforce. Winners will receive R25 000 each and the money must be
used to reinforce the economic and social benefits in the workplace and
to the workforce. We are proud of our association with Standard Bank
because great partnerships make great business and we really look
forward to making Chenin Blanc the iconic, quality, South African white
wine grape says Ken Forrester, Chenin Blanc Association Chairperson.
Standard Bank is always pleased to partner with key role players within
South African business sectors that contribute significantly towards our
economy. The South African Wine Industry Stats (SAWIS) shows that in
2012 we were the eighth largest wine producer in the world in terms of
litres produced. The figures also show that around 320 million litres of
wine were sold domestically, and 410 million litres were exported during
2012 says Nico Groenewald, Head of Agribusiness at Standard Bank.
In line with this, it made sense for us to join forces with the Chenin
Blanc Association in support of this initiative, says Nico Groenewald.