The UK expert Master of Wine, Tim Atkin, took the time recently to sip a few South African wines. And we are so glad he did. Inside some of these he found red nectar from the first New Age wine of the land worthy of a 100 points. That’s out of a 100. A very rare perfect score.
No objections, he also found two whites. Perfect score went to 2015 Kanonkop Paul Sauer and 99 points to whites: 2017 Alheit Vineyards Magnetic North and 2017 Sadie Family ’T Voetpad. “I don’t give very high scores lightly,” Tim says, “but these three stunning, world-class wines have earned it.”
Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2015 is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc.
The Sadie Family blend boasts Semillon as the star of the show, blended with Semillion Gris, Palomino, Muscat and Chenin.
Alheit Vineyards really celebrate Chenin Blanc, that has become a perennial star in their lineup. It’s the one they would send out to war if you know what they mean. Every vintage it managed to combine power and finesse in a way very few other Chenin vineyards from anywhere (not just the Cape) are able to do.At a time of political and economic uncertainty, Atkin argues that the wine industry is a cause for national optimism and pride. “The severe, three-year drought reduced yields severely in some regions,” he says, “but didn’t affect the quality of the wines, especially of the 2015 reds and the 2017 whites.” If anything, the smaller crops may enable South Africa to charge more in export markets and that they are “two of the best ever harvests” in the Cape. “The price of Cape wines is still too low for the long-term good of the industry. Growers and producers have to be able to make a living.”
This year, Atkin singles out Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon, white blends, Bordeaux red blends, Cabernet Franc, Cinsault and Syrah for special praise.
He also comments on the success of the Old Vine Project in drawing attention to the Cape’s heritage vineyards. “It’s vital that South Africa nurtures, promotes and protects this unique resource,” he says. “So many of the country’s best wines are sourced from old vines.”
We raise three glorious glasses to that.
Images and some words courtesy of Business Insider SA