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Two South African wines receive a rare perfect score from a top UK critic

| Wine and liquor

A top UK wine writer has given two South African wines – a red and a white wine – the highest possible score.

Tim Atkin is an award-winning wine correspondent for The Observer, also writes for the Economist and is a regular BBC presenter on wine. He is co-chairman of the London-based International Wine Challenge, the world's biggest blind tasting competition.

“Despite the well-publicised challenges it faces, South Africa is making the best wines in its history,” Atkin said in his eighth annual report on South African wines.

  A third of local wine producers exited the industry in the past ten years, according to Vinpro, which represents 2,500 wine producers. Drought conditions in the Western Cape have wreaked havoc on the industry, and just when that started to ease, the coronavirus pandemic caused more hardship. The prolonged alcohol ban and initial restriction on exports have cost the industry billions.

Atkin tasted 1,381 South African wines, and awarded two perfect scores of 100 points to the 2018 Porseleinberg Syrah from the Swartland, and the 2019 Sadie Family Skurfberg Chenin Blanc from Olifants River.

 Atkin has only awarded a SA wine a top score once before: in 2018, for the Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2015.

Some 23 other wines scored 97 points or higher.

“Chenin Blanc is the standout grape this time, with 32 Chenins scoring 95 points or more, but rarer grapes such as Colombard, Tinta Barocca and Palomino also featured among my 153 wines of the year.”

“Over the decade I’ve been writing these reports, it has been a delight to see the general improvements in quality and the tentative emergence of a South African fine wine sector, with bottles that are discussed, cellared, coveted, shared and sold at auction,” Atkin added.

“Rather than just a few individuals, what we have now is a constellation shining bright above us in the firmament, made up of more than 100 winemaking stars.”

These were his other awards this year:

Winemaker of the Year: Gottfried Mocke of Boekenhoutskloof

Young Winemakers of the Year: David and Nadia Sadie of David & Nadia

Grower of the Year: Johan Reyneke of Reyneke Wines

Co-operative of the Year: Riebeek Valley Wine Company

Winemaking Legend: Peter Finlayson of Bouchard Finlayson

Best Cellar Door Experience: Delaire Graff

Overall White Wine of the Year: 2019 Sadie Family Skurfberg Chenin Blanc, Olifants River

Overall Red Wine of the Year: 2018 Porseleinberg Syrah, Swartland

Overall Rosé of the Year: 2019 Lievland Liefkoos Rosé, Stellenbosch

Overall Sparkling Wine of the Year: 2014 Graham Beck Cuvée Clive, Western Cape

Overall Sweet Wine of the Year: 2017 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance, Constantia

Overall Fortified Wine of the Year: 2018 De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve, Calitzdorp

Red Wine Discovery of the Year: 2017 Miles Mossop Sam, Stellenbosch

White Wine Discovery of the Year: 2019 Thorne & Daughters Snakes & Ladders Sauvignon Blanc, Citrusdal Mountain

Best Value White of the Year: 2019 Eikendal Janina Unwooded Chardonnay, Western Cape

Best Value Red of the Year: 2019 Boplaas Touriga Nacional Family Reserve, Calitzdorp

Best Value Rosé of the Year: 2019 Meerhof Grenache Rosé, Swartland

Best Value Sparkling Wine of the Year: 2011 Bon Courage Jacques Bruère Blanc de Blancs, Robertson

Best Value Sweet Wine of the Year: 2019 Klawer Cellars Villa Esposto Straw Wine, Citrusdal Mountain

Best Value Fortified Wine of the Year: 2014 Alvi’s Drift Muscat de Frontignan, Worcester


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