SA’s TOP 100

Submitted by Angela Lloyd on 21 March, 2011 – 12:28

It’s a topical subject, but selecting a top 100 South Africa wines is no easy task, as seven colleagues who joined me in compiling their crème de la crème of the local industry discovered.

Previous Grape polls – I think – have never ventured beyond a maximum of twenty wines or producers; one hundred wines is a different matter. Decisions taxing those involved include should one go on track record, or list wines that aren’t to your personal taste, but should be included on the basis of quality? What if a current release isn’t up to par? Then should those small producers with tiny production, who few know about but who make really top class wines be considered?

To make selections easier, nominations were unconditional; there was no burden of listing vintages, selecting just one wine from any producer or ranking the wines; the last welcome latitude left the Top 100 as the Top 108, the placing that rounded off the same wines being nominated by three judges. Although the wines are listed 1 to 108, please note they are arranged strictly in alphabetical order.

Statistics can mean what you want them to mean but an exercise such as this is as much about statistics as a story, or more likely the statistics are the story!

One of the more interesting stats was that, as much as our white wines are regularly praised above our reds, the latter received more votes in the top line up: 53 versus 43. Maybe it’s a case of wishful thinking. Three Méthode Cap Classiques, five dessert wines and four fortifieds gives less reason for discussion, as do the names behind them.

The eight judges had somewhere between seven and eight hundred wine producers to chose from. Seventy three of those were nominated for the top selection with a further 66 completing the lists. Making yourself heard in such a crowded market is obviously not easy and, again, one has to wonder how some of the lesser known properties or brands manage to keep their heads above water. Even close to 20 years after South Africa has entered the international market, marketing would seem to remain a big challenge.

While the majority of the list won’t surprise, there are two wines, both from Constantia, that possibly will. Steenberg Magna Carta and Constantia Glen 5 (currently listed as just Constantia Glen in Platter), are relatively new wines; Steenberg has just released the second vintage of its flagship, Magna Carta, the Platter five star 2009; Constantia Glen has yet to release the second, 2008, vintage of what will be labelled Constantia Glen 5, after the five Bordeaux varieties grown on the property. So to the wider wine loving public, these are not yet that well known, though on current form, they are destined to be widely recognised.

But it’s not always the flagships that have made the selection: Kleine Zalze Bush Vines Chenin Blanc hails from the value-for-money, Cellar Selection range; its credentials are well-established, regularly being awarded alongside much more ambitious wines.

The list, like anything else to do with wine, features today’s winners; do the same exercise in a year or even six months, with a different or even the same panel, and the results could be different. Some names – Boekenhoutskloof, Cape Point Vineyards, Kanonkop, Sadie, Thelema and Vergelegen – never miss a list, whatever its objective (for Vin de Constance, neither does Klein Constantia), so they can rightly be named the Cape’s First Growth properties. Other names, perhaps surprisingly missing this time, either from the top echelon or even from a single mention, could well feature on the next occasion: a reflection of the wonderful, fluid nature of wine and the Cape’s viticulturists and winemakers’ efforts to produce quality above all.

Below the top 108 are listed the ten wines which were voted for by all eight judges. Given the choice available, this is a worthy achievement.

 

 

 

  • Ashbourne Sandstone
  • Ashbourne Ashbourne
  • Ataraxia Chardonnay
  • Badenhorst Family Wines White Blend
  • Beaumont Hope Marguerite Chenin Blanc
  • Bein Merlot
  • Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage
  • Boekenhoutskloof Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Boekenhoutskloof Semillon
  • Boekenhoutskloof Syrah
  • Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve
  • Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak Pinot Noir
  • Bouchard Finlayson Missionvale Chardonnay
  • Buitenverwachting Christine
  • Chamonix Chardonnay Reserve
  • Chamonix Greywacke Pinotage
  • Chamonix Pinot Noir Reserve
  • Cape Point Vineyards Isliedh
  • Cape Point Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Reserve
  • Constantia Glen 5
  • Constantia Uitsig Semillon
  • Crystallum Cuvée Cinema Pinot Noir
  • De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve
  • De Toren Fusion V
  • De Trafford Chenin Blanc
  • De Trafford Elevation 393
  • De Trafford Shiraz
  • Diemersdal Eight Rows Sauvignon Blanc
  • Eagles’ Nest Syrah
  • Eagles’ Nest Viognier
  • Ernie Els Signature
  • Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest
  • Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs
  • Graham Beck Cuvée Clive MCC
  • Graham Beck Pheasant’s Run  Sauvignon Blanc
  • Grangehurst Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
  • Hamilton Russell Chardonnay
  • Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir
  • Hartenberg Gravel Hill Shiraz
  • Hartenberg The Mackenzie
  • Haskell Pillars Syrah
  • Hermanuspietersfontein Die Bartho
  • Iona Sauvignon Blanc
  • Jean Daneel Signature Chenin Blanc
  • Jordan Nine Yards Chardonnay
  • JP Bredell Cape Vintage Reserve
  • Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage
  • Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Kanonkop Paul Sauer
  • Kanonkop Pinotage
  • Klein Constantia Perdeblokke Sauvignon Blanc
  • Klein Constantia Vin de Constance
  • Kleine Zalze Bush Vine Chenin Blanc
  • Lammershoek Roulette Blanc
  • Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
  • Luddite Shiraz
  • Meerlust Rubicon
  • Miles Mossop Saskia
  • Morgenster Morgenster
  • Mulderbosch Barrel Fermented Chardonnay
  • Mullineux Family White Blend
  • Mullineux Family Syrah
  • Nederburg Edelkeur
  • Nederburg Ingenuity White
  • Nederburg Noble Late Harvest
  • Neil Ellis Grenache
  • Neil Ellis Groenekloof Sauvignon Blanc
  • Newton Johnson Domaine Pinot Noir
  • Nuy White Muscadel
  • Oak Valley Sauvignon Blanc
  • Paul Cluver Chardonnay
  • Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest
  • Paul Cluver Seven Flags Pinot Noir
  • Quoin Rock Syrah
  • Quoin Rock The Nicobar
  • Raats Cabernet Franc
  • Reyneke Reserve Red
  • Reyneke Reserve white
  • Rupert & Rothschild Baron Edmund
  • Rust en Vrede Estate Wine
  • Rustenberg Five Soldiers Chardonnay
  • Rustenberg John X Merriman
  • Rustenberg Peter Barlow
  • Sadie Family Columella
  • Sadie Family Palladius
  • Scali Blanc
  • Sequillo White
  • Shannon Mount Bullet
  • Simonsig Redhill Pinotage
  • Spice Route Malabar
  • Springfield Méthode Ancienne Chardonnay
  • Stark Condé Three Pines Cab Sauvignon
  • Steenberg Magna Carta
  • Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc Reserve
  • Thelema Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Thelema Merlot Reserve
  • Tokara Director’s Reserve White
  • Tokara Director’s Reserve Red
  • Uva Mira Chardonnay
  • Vergelegen Red
  • Vergelegen White
  • Vergelegen Sauvignon Blanc Reserve
  • Vilafonté Series C
  • Villiera Monro Brut
  • Warwick Trilogy
  • Waterford Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Waterford The Jem
  • Waterkloof Sauvignon Blanc

 

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2 Responses

  1. you ask why some of the smaller lesser known brands struggle or keep their heads above water? exactly because of lists like these…no one gives them a springboard to feature on or to be seen!! Charity begins at home they say…well its up to you guys, the media and tasting panels to help with this and break the mold of always featuring the same wines.

    • Hi Colin
      It seems to be a never ending! The best advise is to always walk the talk and make sure you have the right bottle under your arm to show them what you are about!!

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