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South African Chenin Blanc: panel tasting results

This three-day tasting of 223 wines was a resounding success, with 28 scoring 95pts or more, showing the quality and consistency across the Cape.

Greg Sherwood MW, Beverley Blanning MW and Roger Jones tasted 223 wines with 28 Outstanding and 108 Highly recommended.

South African Chenin Blanc: panel tasting scores

223 wines tasted

Exceptional 0

Outstanding 28

Highly recommended 108

Recommended 82

Commended 5

Fair 0

Poor 0

Entry criteria: producers and UK agents were invited to submit their latest-release Chenin Blanc still whites, including single-varietal wines or blends containing a minimum 85% Chenin Blanc

Until the late 1990s, Chenin Blanc was the workhorse of South Africa’s wine industry – the principal variety used for brandy distillation, as well as the base wine of most commercial bulk white blends. But over the past three decades the value of Chenin Blanc, in price and perception, has rocketed.

Part of the grape’s popularity arose due to its chameleon-like ability to make almost any style of wine: from traditional-method Cap Classique sparklings to sweet botrytised dessert styles, and everything in between. Today, Chenin Blanc still constitutes 18.6% of the Cape’s vineyard plantings.

Scroll down to see tasting notes and scores from the South African Chenin Blanc panel tasting

In one of Decanter’s biggest-ever panel tastings, we tasted 223 cuvées from across South Africa. It was a fascinating three days of judging in which we were impressed by the quality and consistency of winemaking and breadth of different styles, particularly from the elegantly fresh 2021 vintage.

South African Chenin Blanc panel tasting scores

The following wines all scored 95 points or above

The judges

Greg Sherwood MW is a London-based South African Master of Wine. Formerly fine wine buyer at Handford Wines for more than 20 years, he publishes his Fine Wine Safari blog at gregsherwoodmw.com and judges at several wine competitions worldwide.

Beverley Blanning MW is an independent wine writer, judge, tour guide and educator. She is author of Wine Tasting (Hodder & Stoughton, 2010) with Wines of the Loire Valley due out in 2023 (£35 Infinite Ideas), and has been a DWWA judge since its inception in 2004.

Roger Jones is the retired former owner of The Harrow at Little Bedwyn restaurant in Wiltshire. He is now a wine writer, judge and consultant with a particular interest in the hospitality trade, as well as helping charities. He is a DWWA judge, with a focus on New World regions.

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