South Africa has a long and rich history of winemaking, with its wine industry dating back to the 17th century. Over the years, South African wines have gained recognition for their exceptional quality, and the country has become one of the leading wine producers in the world. South African wines have been making a mark in the international wine scene in recent years, consistently performing well in many leading international wine competitions and proving that they are capable of standing up against some of the best wines from around the world. Here are some of the most notable competitions where South African wines have shone recently:
The Decanter World Wine Awards is one of the most prestigious wine competitions in the world, with thousands of entries from around the globe. South African wines have consistently performed well in this competition, winning numerous awards and high scores. In 2020, South Africa won 27 Platinum awards, 113 Gold medals, and 246 Silver medals.
In 2021, South African wines won a total of 711 medals, including 29 Golds, 244 Silvers, and 438 Bronzes. Some of the top-ranking South African wines in the 2021 competition include:
- Kanonkop Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 – Platinum Medal, 97 points
- Rustenberg Peter Barlow Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 – Platinum Medal, 97 points
- Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak Pinot Noir 2019 – Platinum Medal, 97 points
Renowned wine critic, Tim Atkin, who is known for his expertise in South African wines, commented on the quality of South African wines in the 2021 Decanter World Wine Awards, stating that “South Africa is making some of the best wines in the world right now, and the results of the Decanter World Wine Awards are proof of that.”
The International Wine & Spirit Competition is another highly respected wine competition, with a panel of judges comprising of industry experts from around the world. South African wines have consistently performed well in this competition, winning numerous awards and high scores.
In 2020, South African wines won 25 Gold medals, 78 Silver medals, and 113 Bronze medals. Notable wines that have stood out in recent years include the 2018 Cape Point Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, which was awarded a Gold medal in 2020, and the 2015 De Toren Fusion V, which received a Gold medal in 2019.
Renowned wine critic Neal Martin has also been impressed by South African wines, stating that “South Africa is the most exciting wine country in the world right now.”
The International Wine Challenge is one of the largest and most respected wine competitions in the world, with entries from over 50 countries. South African wines have consistently performed well in this competition, winning numerous awards and high scores.
In 2020, South Africa won 69 Gold medals, 385 Silver medals, and 666 Bronze medals. Notable wines that have stood out in recent years include the 2018 Sadie Family Skurfberg Chenin Blanc, which was awarded a Gold medal in 2020, and the 2015 Boekenhoutskloof Syrah, which received a Gold medal in 2019.
Renowned wine critic James Suckling has been impressed by South African wines in recent years, stating that “South Africa is producing some of the most exciting wines in the world right now.”
- Global Fine Wine Challenge (formerly Six Nations Wine Challenge)
The Global Fine Wine Challenge, formerly known as the Six Nations Wine Challenge, has invited, via each country’s leading wine critic the top 120 hand-picked wines from each participating nation – South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Chile and Argentina since inception in 2003. South African wines have consistently performed well against some of the best wines of these New World Nations in this top-flight annual challenge.
In 2021, Quoin Rock Black Series MCC Sparkling 2014 took out the Sparkling Wines Trophy, Stark-Conde White Field Blend 2020 won the Trophy for White Wine Blends, Cederberg Five Generations Chenin Blanc 2020 won the Non-Aromatic White Wine Trophy, Le Riche Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 won the Cabernet Sauvignon Trophy and Tokara Directors Reserve Red 2018 won the Bordeaux Blend Trophy – a class that has been dominated by South Africa since 2017. South Africa won a total of 5 Trophies, 5 Runner-Up Double Gold Medals, 16 Double Gold Medals & 25 Gold Medals in the 2021 Challenge.
Renowned Master of Wine Andrew Caillard had high praise for these wines, stating “There are few wine competitions in the world that celebrate the best of the best. The winners of the 2021 Global Fine Wine Challenge were outstanding wines and beautiful examples of their kind”
- Wine Spectator Top 100
The Wine Spectator Top 100 is a highly anticipated list of the year’s top 100 wines, as determined by the magazine’s editors. South African wines have consistently made it onto this list in recent years, highlighting the quality and diversity of the country’s wine industry.
In 2020, the 2017 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot Noir was ranked #21 on the list, while the 2016 Mullineux Syrah was ranked #55. In 2019, the 2015 Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon was ranked #93.
Renowned wine critic Robert Parker has also praised South African wines, stating that “South Africa is on fire right now and producing some of the world’s most exciting wines. The combination of old vines, innovative winemaking, and a diversity of terroirs make for some truly exceptional wines.”
- Concours Mondial de Bruxelles
The Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is an international wine competition that has been held annually since 1994. South African wines have consistently performed well in this competition, with many wineries receiving awards and high scores.
In 2020, South African wines won 17 Grand Gold medals, 231 Gold medals, and 384 Silver medals. Notable wines that have stood out in recent years include the 2017 De Toren Fusion V, which was awarded a Grand Gold medal in 2020, and the 2017 Jordan Nine Yards Chardonnay, which received a Gold medal in 2019.
Renowned wine critic Tim Atkin has also been impressed by South African wines, stating that “South Africa is now a serious player on the world wine stage, producing a range of wines that are both distinctive and exciting.”
Overall, South African wines have consistently ranked highly in international wine competitions over the last decade, demonstrating that they are capable of standing up against some of the world’s best wines. The country’s winemakers are known for their innovative approach, and their willingness to experiment with different grape varieties, styles, and techniques has led to the production of some truly exceptional wines.
Renowned wine critics have taken notice of South African wines’ success in international competitions, with many commenting on the quality and diversity of the country’s wine industry. Here are some of their comments on South African wines:
- James Suckling: “South African wines are making a huge impact on the international wine scene. They offer great balance, freshness, and complexity.”
- Tim Atkin: “South African wines have a unique personality and elegance that is hard to find in wines from other regions.”
- Neal Martin: “South African wines have improved dramatically in the past decade, and they now rank among the best in the world.”
- Jancis Robinson: “South African wines have a real sense of place and a unique expression of terroir that is truly impressive.”
- Matthew Jukes: “South African wines are some of the most exciting and dynamic wines being produced in the world today. They offer incredible value for money and are a joy to drink.”
South African wines have also been praised for their affordability, making them accessible to a wider audience of wine drinkers. While some of the country’s top wines can command high prices, there are also many excellent wines available at more affordable price points.
In recent years, South African wines have also been making waves in the natural wine movement, with many winemakers embracing organic and biodynamic farming practices and minimal intervention winemaking. This focus on sustainability and environmental responsibility has further boosted the country’s reputation as a producer of high-quality, ethical wines.
Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, South African winemakers have continued to produce outstanding wines and earn international recognition. While the pandemic has certainly had an impact on the wine industry, many South African wineries have adapted and found new ways to connect with consumers through virtual tastings and online sales.
While South African wines continue to impress both critics and consumers, there is still room for growth and improvement. Winemakers are constantly experimenting with new techniques and varietals, and this experimentation is helping to push the boundaries of what is possible in South African winemaking.
As South African wines continue to gain recognition and win awards on the international stage, it is clear that the country’s wine industry has a bright future ahead. With a unique identity and a commitment to excellence, South African wines are sure to remain a force to be reckoned with in the world of wine for years to come.
- Tim Atkin
- Robert Parker
- Global Fine Wine Challenge
- James Suckling