With the changing of the seasons come longer days and shorter nights – but it also ushers in the medal and competition season for the wine fraternity.

Within the space of a few weeks a host of national wine competitions announced their annual results. The Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10, ABSA Pinotage Top 10 and Amorim Cap Classique Challenge are all eagerly awaited – for good reason as these are considered the country’s “best of the best” in their specific categories. The victors in the Chenin Blanc Top 10
were as follows:

Alvi’s Drift 221 Chenin Blanc 2019, Alvi’s Drift Albertus Viljoen Chenin Blanc 2019, Badsberg 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 and Stellenrust Stellenbosch Manor Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2019.

“From the 136 wines assessed we found a clear link between wine quality and older, established vines,” said judge James Pietersen. “ 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.”

There was “an appealing freshness” Pietersen said. “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 also singled Stellenrust out for praise since it had – once again – been honoured for its unwooded entry level chenin blanc beat out many higher priced and more fancied opponents for a top 10 slot.

Sponsors Standard Bank provide a generous sponsorship – R25 000 for each winning producer – but there are strings attached: according to the competition stipulations, the money goes towards producer projects intended to “reinforce economic and social benefits in the workplace,” said Stephan van der Merwe, head of commercial banking in the Western Cape.

To date, R1.35 million has been distributed, with producers thus far investing in a range of initiatives to enhance the lives of their worker communities. These have ranged from educational, to health and housing projects.