The South African wine industry is experiencing a significant boost, according to international wine critic and commentator Tim Atkin Master of Wine. In his recently released 2023 South Africa Report, Tim Atkin expresses his optimism for the country’s wine production, even in the face of economic and structural challenges. Here are the key factors contributing to South Africa’s wine quality, as highlighted by Tim Atkin.
Enhanced Viticulture and Site Selection
Tim Atkin believes that South Africa’s commitment to better viticulture and meticulous site selection plays a crucial role in the country’s wine success. Winemakers are placing a strong emphasis on choosing optimal vineyard locations, resulting in wines that truly reflect the unique terroir of each region.
Superior Virus-Free Plant Material
To achieve excellence in winemaking, the health of grapevines is paramount. South Africa has made significant strides in ensuring virus-free plant material, contributing to the overall health of the vines and the quality of the grapes. This dedication to vine health is a key driver of the country’s wine quality.
Diverse Grape Varieties
Variety is a hallmark of the South African wine scene, with over 110 grape varieties currently under cultivation. This rich diversity allows winemakers to experiment and create wines that are distinctive and captivating.
South African White Wines
Tim Atkin is particularly impressed with South African white wines, asserting that they rank among the world’s best. He goes as far as to suggest that the Cape has now become the premier source for the world’s top dry Chenin Blancs, surpassing even the famed Loire Valley.
Rising Red Wines
South African red wines have also been gaining recognition, with Tim Atkin noting that they now stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the country’s world-class white wines. One notable endorsement is the full marks awarded to the Boschkloof Epilogue Syrah 2021, signifying his confidence in South Africa’s ability to produce outstanding red wines.
Focus on Acidity
In the realm of “New Wave reds,” Atkin observes that the current emphasis is on acidity rather than sugar levels. This shift reflects the industry’s commitment to crafting wines that are vibrant and fresh, aligning with contemporary preferences.
Tim Atkin underscores the significance of terroir in defining the quality of South African wines. While progress has been made in identifying the best regions for specific grape varieties and wine styles, Atkin suggests that a greater level of precision in delineation, particularly regarding sub-regions, could further elevate South African wines.
Addressing Climate Change
As climate change poses challenges for winemakers globally, South Africa is taking proactive steps to mitigate its effects. Tim Atkin highlights initiatives led by prominent viticulturists like Rosa Kruger, focusing on intelligent planting practices, climate-appropriate grape varieties, and soil health.
Recognizing Wine Industry Leaders
Tim Atkin acknowledges key figures in South Africa’s wine industry, including Marelise Niemann of Momento Wines, who has been named Young Winemaker of the Year. Additionally, Bruwer Raats of Raats Family Wines is honoured as Winemaker of the Year, and Willie Mostert is celebrated as Viticulturist of the Year for his contributions to preserving old vines and cultivating Mediterranean varietals.
The Podium 2023
- Winemaker of the Year: Bruwer Raats of Raats Family Wines
- Young Winemaker of the Year: Marelise Niemann of Momento
- Viticulturist of the Year: Willie Mostert
- Co-operative of the Year: Daschbosch
- Winemaking Legend: Etienne Le Riche
These accolades highlight the remarkable talent and dedication within South Africa’s wine industry.
Here are more incredible awards:
- Best Cellar Door Experience: Blaauwklippen Vineyards
- Overall White Wine of the Year: 2022 Alheit Vineyards Huilkrans Chenin Blanc, Citrusdal Mountain
- Overall Red Wine of the Year: 2021 Boschkloof Epilogue Syrah, Stellenbosch
- Overall Rosé of the Year: 2022 Lievland Liefkoos Rosé, Stellenbosch
- Overall Sparkling Wine of the Year: 2018 Graham Beck Cuvée Clive, Western Cape
- Overall Sweet Wine of the Year: 2022 Mullineux Straw Wine, Swartland
- Overall Fortified Wine of the Year: 2007 Boplaas CWG Auction Reserve Tawny Single Harvest Colheita, Calitzdorp
- Red Wine Discovery of the Year: 2021 Rall CWG Noa Syrah, Swartland
- White Wine Discovery of the Year: 2022 Sadie Family Rotsbank, Swartland
- Sparkling Wine Discovery of the Year: 2009 Graham Beck Artisan Collection Extra Brut 157, Western Cape
- Best Value White of the Year: 2021 Windmeul Cellar OVP Reserve Chenin Blanc, Paarl
- Best Value Red of the Year: 2020 Alto Rouge, Stellenbosch
- Best Value Rosé of the Year: 2022 Noble Hill Mourvèdre Rosé, Simonsberg-Paarl
- Best Value Sparkling Wine of the Year: NV KWV Laborie Brut, Western Cape
- Best Value Sweet Wine of the Year: 2023 Van Loveren VRL Special Late Harvest Gewürztraminer, Robertson
- Best value Fortified Wine of the Year: NV KWV Cape Classic Tawny, Western Cape
Tim Atkin’s 2023 South Africa Report reveals a promising outlook for the country’s wine industry. With a steadfast focus on quality, innovation, and sustainability, South African wines continue to captivate wine enthusiasts around the world. For a deeper dive into his insights, the full report is available for purchase on Tim Atkin’s website, where you can also learn more about his illustrious career in the world of wine.
To purchase the report, where more details can be found, visit www.timatkin.com.