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Tim Atkin MW: South Africa’s wine industry needs to premiumise

South Africa’s producers are starting to enter the fine wine category, according to Tim Atkin MW, but the critic believes the nation’s winemakers are still selling themselves short.

Tim Atkin (Photo: Gavin Hurling)

Atkin has released the seventh edition of his South Africa report, and states that the nation is now producing its best wines yet, but producers need to premiumise their offerings if the industry is to survive.

“We are finally seeing the overdue emergence of a fine wine category, but too much wine is sold too cheaply for the long-term health of the industry,” he said.

“Winemakers need to pay more for their grapes and consumers need to recognise that South Africa cannot continue to be the world’s bargain basement.”

He also added that, despite a wet winter enabling wineries to stave off drought, they will “still need to think about what and where they plant in future” to mitigate the effects of climate change and rising temperatures.

“The dams may be fuller than they were a year ago after the winter rains, but producers still need to think about what and where they plant in future,” he said.

The wine critic praised Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Cinsault and Syrah across the country, but added that wines produced from Albariño, Agiorgitiko, Assyrtiko, Furmint, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Noir, Malbec, Mourvèdre, Petit Verdot, Roussanne and Verdelho also showed “enormous potential”.

“Not before time, South Africa is expanding its palette of grapes.”

Atkin’s call echoes that of VinPro’s chairman, Anton Smuts, who said at the beginning of the year that at the bulk level too South Africa needed to stop selling wine at a cheaper price than water.

At last year’s CapeWine show the theme was ‘sustainability’, with as much if not more emphasis given to the economic health of the Cape winelands as its environmental state.

Atkin has also named his overall wines and winemakers of the year:

  • Winemakers of the Year: Eben Sadie and Paul Jordaan of The Sadie Family Wines
  • Young Winemaker of the Year: Bernhard Bredell of Scions of Sinai
  • Grower of the Year: James Downes of Shannon Vineyards
  • Co-operative of the Year: Windmeul Kelder
  • Winemaking Legend: Gyles Webb of Thelema Mountain Vineyards
  • Best Cellar Door Experience: Creation
  • Overall White Wine of the Year: 2018 Sadie Family ’Te Voetpad, Swartland
  • Overall Red Wine of the Year: 2017 Boschkloof Epilogue Syrah, Stellenbosch
  • Overall Rosé of the Year: 2019 Holder Dorper Elmie Rosé, Stellenbosch
  • Overall Sparkling Wine of the Year: 2014 Graham Beck Cuvée Clive, Western Cape
  • Overall Sweet Wine of the Year: 2016 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance, Constantia
  • Overall Fortified Wine of the Year: 2017 De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve, Calitzdorp
  • Red Wine Discovery of the Year: 2018 AA Badenhorst Ringmuur Cinsault, Swartland
  • White Wine Discovery of the Year: 2018 Wolf and Woman Chenin Blanc, Swartland
  • Best Value White of the Year: 2019 Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc, Western Cape
  • Best Value Red of the Year: 2018 Fairview Grenache Noir, Western Cape
  • Best Value Rosé of the Year: 2019 Bon Courage Lady of the House Pinotage Rosé, Robertson
  • Best Value Sparkling Wine of the Year: NV KWV Laborie Blanc de Blancs, Western Cape
  • Best value Sweet Wine of the Year: 2017 Highlands Road Noble Late Harvest, Elgin
  • Best value Fortified Wine of the Year: 2012 Allesverloren Fine Old Vintage, Swartland

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