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September 16, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 12:30 pm


“Many of the finest and (now) most admired South African wines are based on Chenin Blanc,” says influential UK critic Jancis Robinson MW. She also highlights the grape’s sound ageing potential, asserting in last month’s Financial Times article on Chenin that “with time it can hold its own with the finest white wines”.

Her affirmation coincides with a recent feature on old-vine Chenins in another UK publication, Decanter, in which Christian Eedes calls these “arguably South Africa’s greatest vinous asset”.

Ken Forrester, co-founder and chair of the Chenin Blanc Association (CBA), says the validation comes just ahead of this year’s Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge that is now open for entries.

“It’s a great time for making Chenin. The grape continues to play a key role in building South Africa’s ever-rising reputation as a source of excellent, exciting and age-worthy wines.

“Export sales values of packaged Chenins rose 21% year-on-year for the 12 months to April 2021. This was despite an export ban and the shipping logjams that followed, a performance that certainly demonstrates market-resilience. Chenin now accounts for 14% of total volumes exported. This is the biggest share of any category, with Sauvignon blanc following at 12%.

“Collectively, this news should inspire local producers to enter the Challenge. There is so much to gain from being included in the top 10 line-up – the endorsement, the exposure and knowing that each winning wine attracts a cash prize of R25 000 to spend on a project to uplift or upskill your community of farm workers, in recognition of their contribution to your success.”
He stresses that since the inception of the challenge in 2014, the organisers have made it a condition of entry that all prize money must be spent this way.

South Africa grows more Chenin than the rest of the world combined. It is the country’s most populous grape, accounting for 18,5% of the national vineyard that totals just over 92 000 hectares, with Breedekloof currently the biggest player, says Forrester. “Really encouraging is that across the board, we are witnessing the preservation of older vines, both for their vinous and income-earning potential. There is a rising number of vines between 16- and 20-years’ old, an indication that growers are keen to protect what has become an important South African legacy.”

Speaking on behalf of the sponsors, Stephan van der Merwe, head of commercial clients at Standard Bank in the Western Cape, mentions a study underway by the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business. In its initial phase, published in the International Journal of Wine Business Research, the research found that vine age could contribute significantly to wine price. “There is therefore every incentive for producers to preserve this heritage.”

This year marks the eighth of the competition that annually awards a cash prize to each of the producers of the top 10 Chenins selected. “This is an important facet of the challenge,” Van der Merwe adds. “It highlights the role of farm workers in making award-winning wines. For a sense of the impact each R25 000 prize can make to people’s lives, it is well worth watching a short video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqtzGzHJutUt

This year’s judges are James Pietersen (panel chair), Wine Cellar’s MD and a regular judge in this and several other leading local wine competitions; winemaker Boela Gerber Cape Wine Master of Groot Constantia; sommelier Higgo Jacobs, who is also a senior judge at the International Wine Challenge (IWC) and Decanter World Wine Awards and a past chairman of the South African Sommelier Association (SASA); Penny Setti, former sommelier at Chef’s Warehouse and now owner of Penny Noire wine bar; and newcomer to the panel, Malu Lambert, an award-winning wine writer and contributor to Platter’s South African Wine Guide and a selection of titles, including jancisrobinson.com, Decanter and The Buyer. This year’s associate judge is Amos Sobashe, who is currently hosting the tasting room and online tastings for Oldenburg Vineyards. He was previously sommelier at Quoin Rock.



Find out this week who the winners are of this year’s Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top Ten Challenge.  On Thursday, 16 September, at 12:00, join the announcement of the top 10 Chenins and discussion to feature CBA chairman Ken Forrester; judging panel chairman, James Pietersen; as well as head of commercial banking in the Eastern and Western Cape for Standard Bank, Stephan van der Merwe; and wine writer and broadcaster, Dan Nicholl.



Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/108278929249213/posts/4293405884069809/


Date: Thursday, 16 September 2021

Time: 12:00 to 12:30


Chenin Blanc Association
View Organizer Website

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