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Atkin hails SA as ‘most exciting’ New World region

Tim Atkin MW has hailed South Africa as the “most dynamic and exciting winemaking country in the New World”, publishing his third annual report on Cape wines.

“The combination of diverse terroirs, old vines and pure winemaking talent is hard to beat”, said Atkin. “It’s never been so intoxicating to taste and drink the wines of the Cape – and I’m not talking about high alcohol levels, but about the remarkable bottles being produced from Elim to Stellenbosch, the Hemel en Aarde Valley to the Swartland.”

Atkin’s report follows several trips to South Africa, as well as numerous tastings in the UK and Germany, and once again includes his controversial Cape Classification system.

Loosely based on the 1855 Bordeaux Classification, Atkin has grouped the top 150 Cape wineries into First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth growths, as well as a group of 75 Crus Bourgeois.

“What started out as a bit of fun in 2013 has become something much more serious,” he said. “It is very much my personal view, but I think these 150 wineries are the best in the Cape right now. The Classification is intended to stimulate debate, as it has in previous editions. And unlike the 1855 classification, it’s not set in stone.”

The report includes scores for more than 1,000 wines, alongside tasting notes for the 700 or so wines that scored more than 90 points.

For the first time, Atkin has named his top wines and winemakers of the year, listing Eben Sadie of Sadie Family Wines in Swartland as South Africa’s winemaker of the year. The title of Young South African winemaker of the year was handed to Morné Vrey of Delaire Graff in Stellenbosch.

Atkin’s top South African wines of the year are as follows :-

  • White Wine of the Year: 2014 Chamonix Reserve Chardonnay
  • Red Wine of the Year: 2013 Sadie Family Columella
  • Sweet Wine of the Year: 2012 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance
  • Sparkling Wine of the Year: 2009 Graham Beck Cuvée Clive

A further 46 wines, which scored 95 points or more, make up Atkin’s South African wines of the year.

Tim Atkin’s 2015 South Africa Special Report is available to download from

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