Five newcomers among Top 10 wines in 2017 Chenin Blanc Challenge

Platinum, Top 10, can’t go wrong
with The Anchorman 2016

IT WAS NO surprise to see DeMorgenzon, Spier and Stellenrust among the Top 10 in the Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Challenge 2017. All Classified wines, with Stellenrust also in the Top Wine SA Hall of Fame, and all multiple winners of the SA Chenin producer association’s Top 10 award.

The only wine to place among the laureates in all four Challenges held to date is from the Perdeberg Winery of Paarl, namely their ‘Courageous’ Dry Land Collection. Another standout this year is The Anchorman from Nederburg, the 2016 vintage considered one of the very best wines on show at the 2017 Decanter World Wine Awards in the UK before its debut on the SA Challenge podium. And the other newcomers: Cederberg, Fleur du Cap, Spice Route and Windmeul.

The 2017 edition of the Chenin Challenge was contested by 136 wines from all of the major wine-producing areas. As South Africa’s most widely planted grape variety, Chenin also accounts for some of the country’s oldest plantings, with five of the Top 10 wines thanks to vines planted over 40 years ago: the DeMorgenzon, Spice Route, Spier and Stellenrust × 2.

South Africa’s quality credentials in terms of the variety are acknowledged internationally, with many leading critics including American Lauren Buzzeo opining that, overall, Cape Chenins have more to offer than those from anywhere else around the globe… Buzzeo, the managing editor and tasting director of Wine Enthusiast in the USA, was among the Chenin Challenge judges in 2017, her fellow panel members including Cathy van Zyl MW (chair), winemaker Richard Kershaw MW, retailer James Pietersen (Wine Cellar) and sommelier Tinashe Nyamudoka (Test Kitchen).

The 2017 Chenin Blanc Challenge Top 10:

Cederberg Five Generations Chenin Blanc 2015
R220 pb ex-cellar, Cederberg

DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc 2016
R350 pb ex-cellar, Stellenbosch Kloof

Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Chenin Blanc 2016
R130 pb at the Bergkelder, Stellenbosch

Nederburg The Anchorman Chenin Blanc 2016
R150 pb ex-cellar, Paarl

Spice Route Chenin Blanc 2016
R110 pb at tasting room, Paarl

Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2016
R185 pb ex-cellar, Stellenbosch

Stellenrust Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2015
R500 pb ex-cellar in the Helderberg, Stellenbosch

Stellenrust Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2016
R200 pb ex-cellar in the Helderberg, Stellenbosch

The Dry Land Collection Courageous Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2016
R86 pb ex-cellar, Perdeberg, Paarl

Windmeul Reserve Chenin Blanc 2016
R80 pb ex-cellar, Paarl



  • With Chenin there are so many styles. Where are the Top 10 on the dry-to-sweet scale, and, apart from the three with ‘barrel-fermented’ in their names, how much wooding, if any, have the others had. Did the judges prefer wooded, or is there a mix?
    Aso noteworthy are the price differences, with R420 between the cheapest [Windmeul Reserve 2016 at R80pb] and the most expensive [Stellenrust Barrel Fermented 2015 at R500] – especially when nine of the 10 cost a lot less than R500.

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