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CE’s top 20 SA wineries 2016

March 23, 2016
by Christian
in Opinion & Analysis
with 2 Comments
Chris and Andrea Mullineux

Chris and Andrea Mullineux of Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines.

Wine writer Tim James recently conducted a poll to establish a top 20 list of wine producers in South Africa as he has done on an occasional basis since 2001. 27 local and international wine professionals were consulted and the results are available here.

My nominations were as follows:

Top five
1. Mullineu & Leeu Family Wines
2. Sadie Family Wines
3. Boekenhoutskloof
4. Kanonkop
5. Paul Cluver (in the final list but outside the top 5)

Next 15
Alheit Vineyards
Cape Point Vineyards
Cederberg (not in the final list)
David and Nadia Sadie
De Trafford (not in the final list)
Hamilton Russell Vineyards (not in the final list)
Hartenberg (not in the final list)
Klein Constantia
KWV (The Mentors) (not in the final list)
Newton Johnson Vineyards
Rustenberg (not in the final list)
Rust en Vrede (not in the final list)
Thelema (not in the final list)
Tokara
Vergelegen

In summary, 12 of my nominations in the final list (“nearly 100” put forward altogether), the eight producers I didn’t back being AA Badenhorst, Chamonix, Crystallum, Delaire Graff, DeMorgenzon, Jordan, Reyneke and Savage.

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2 Comments

  1. LloydMarch 23, 2016 at 8:28 amReply

    Interesting list Christian. I read Tim’s as well. Care to explain your choices, especially the last 15? From what period would you recognize these wineries as being real performers? What have you based your decisions on? Consistency, brand perception, ingenuity in the vineyard vs cellar? And what about biodynamics? Has a trend to “a more natural approach” to winemaking affected the line-up? Thanks.

    • ChristianMarch 23, 2016 at 9:15 amReplyAuthor

      Hi Lloyd,

      I increasingly think consistency over time or track record is a huge factor in determining such hierarchies so De Trafford (first bottling 1992), Hamilton Russell Vineyards (1981), Hartenberg (1978), Rustenberg (1892(!)), Rust en Vrede (1979) and Thelema (1983) are all on my list but not the official one.

      That said, sheer excitement also counts for a lot so that’s why Alheit Vineyards makes the list despite not being around for very long.

      Fashionability (or lack thereof) also comes into it – I’m not surprised that KWV didn’t make the final list but the competition success that this winery has enjoyed in recent times is hugely impressive.

      A “more natural approach” goes without saying for me and I’m not inclined to over-reward it. Biodynamics evidently doesn’t do any harm but the pseudo-religious dimension to it is problematic.

      Continuity of personnel is also a factor in the decision making process and it remains to be seen if Chamonix is a force to be reckoned with post Gottfried Mocke’s departure.

      It has to be said that whatever criteria are to be used, it’s a touch exercise. I would dearly have liked to make place for the likes of Simonsig, Stark-Conde and Waterford…

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