Atkin reveals 2016 South African Cape classifications

Tim Atkin MW has released his 2016 classification of South African wine producers following the 2015 vintage, which he said was the best he had tasted in 26 year’s of writing about the country’s wines.


Tim Atkin MW

Ahead of the release of his fourth annual guide to the country’s wine industry, Atkin said the 2015 vintage should give the country a “springboard to global recognition”.

Looking at South Africa’s wine industry as a whole, he noted that better viticulture, the development of new wine regions and an enthusiastic generation of young winemakers had helped South Africa become the “most dynamic wine-producing country in the world, right now.”

However he recognised that profitability is still a pressing issue within the industry, stating that too many wine farms are unprofitable because of the low price of the country’s wines, particularly on export markets.

“In the absence of significant government subsidies, the answer is to increase the price of South African wine,” said Atkin.

Atkin singled out Chenin Blanc, Syrah and Méthode Cap Classique as being worthy of particular praise, but also stressed the need to protect South Africa’s old vines, which are going through something on a revival at the moment.

However unprofitability in the market means that such vines are constantly under threat of being ripped out and replaced with more commercially viable crops. He said South Africa’s old vines are “a precious and dwindling resource that needs protection”

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Also included in the report is his controversial Cape Classification system, which he first published in 2013.

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

However unlike the 1855 classification, positions granted to wineries are not set in stone and can change each year, with the exercise intended to stimulate debate.

Atkin also named his wines and winemakers of the year as follows:

  • Winemaker of the Year: Abrie Beeslaar of Kanonkop and Beeslaar
  • Young Winemaker of the Year: Matt Day of Klein Constantia
  • Overall White Wine of the Year: 2015 David & Nadia Hoë-Steen Chenin Blanc, Swartland
  • Overall Red Wine of the Year: 2014 Boschkloof Epilogue Syrah, Stellenbosch
  • Overall Sweet Wine of the Year: 2013 Boekenhoutskloof Noble Late Harvest, Franschhoek
  • Overall Sparkling Wine of the Year: 2010 Silverthorn Jewel Box, Western Cape
  • White Wine Discovery of the Year: 2015 BLANKbottle Orbitofrontal Cortex, Western Cape
  • Red Wine Discovery of the Year: 2015 Newton Johnson CWG Seadragon Pinot Noir, Upper Hemel-en- Aarde Valley

Tim Atkin MW’s 2016 South Africa Special Report is available to download at

Click through to see Atkins’ 2016 Cape classification of South African wineries….

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