Prescient Chenin Blanc Report 2021: Top 10

By , 3 May 2021

Comment

25

Introduction

This year’s Chenin Blanc Report sponsored by multinational financial services company Prescient is now out. There were 90 entries received from 67 producers and these were tasted blind (labels out of sight) by a three-person panel, scoring done according to the 100-point quality scale.

Top 10

The 10 best wines overall are:

96

Cavalli Filly 2020
Price: R130
Wine of Origin: Stellenbosch
Abv: 13.64%

95

Delaire Graff Swartland Reserve 2020
Price: R225
Wine of Origin: Swartland
Abv: 14.37%

94

Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection 2020
Price: R120
Wine of Origin: Stellenbosch
Abv: 13.44%

94

Laibach Sur Lie 2019
Price: R120
Wine of Origin: Stellenbosch
Abv: 13.6%

94

Longridge 2019
Price: R155
Wine of Origin: Stellenbosch
Abv: 13.42%

94

Raats Original 2020
Price: R135
Wine of Origin: Stellenbosch
Abv: 13.5%

93

Gabriëlskloof 2020
Price: R115
Wine of Origin: Western Cape
Abv: 13.33%

93

Mariëtte 2019 (Le Belle Rebelle)
Price: R195
Wine of Origin: Breedekloof
Abv: 14.29%

93

Painted Wolf The Den 2020
Price: R85
Wine of Origin: Coastal Region
Abv: 12.82%

93

Rickety Bridge Paulina’s Reserve 2019
Price: R170
Wine of Origin: Coastal Region
Abv: 12.66%

Cavalli, Stellenbosch.

About the category

Chenin Blanc is one of the world’s most versatile grape varieties, capable of producing wines in all manner of styles and at all levels of the market. As recently as 1990, it comprised around 35% of the total area under vineyard in South Africa but in the period after political transformation, the tendency was to replace it with more fashionable red grape types and much was ripped out. It nevertheless remains the country’s most widely planted, making up 17 148ha or 18.6% of the total 92 005ha currently under vine.

Moreover, there has been a growing awareness that the variety had a particular affinity to local growing conditions and there is also a sense that mature vineyards can play a key role in producing wines of excellence. Based on industry convention, old vines are defined as being at least 35 years of age , and of the 3 693ha registered as such, approximately half of this is Chenin.

What does a top Chenin Blanc go for?

The average price of the 49 wines to rate 90-plus is R192 a bottle and of the Top 10 is R144. Offering the best quality relative to price is Perdeberg Classic Collection 2020 with a rating of 92 and selling for R55 a bottle.

In-depth analysis

To read the report in full, including key findings, tasting notes for the top wines and scores on the 100-point quality scale for all wines entered, download the following: Prescient Chenin Blanc Report 2021

Shop online

Johannesburg boutique wine retailer Dry Dock Liquor is offering some of the wines in the Top 10 for sale and can deliver nationwide – buy now.

Online retailer Wine-of-the-Month Club is offering a six-bottle mixed case selected from the Top 10 – buy now.

Video

Comments

25 comment(s)

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  • Jeremy10 May 2021

    Isn’t it amazing that people who lecture others about behaving ( writing) badly promptly excell themseves in behaving even worse.

  • Marius+Small-Smith3 May 2021

    Swartland Chenins? Tim Atkin definitely not one of the panel tasters

  • rolf3 May 2021

    Amazing u give Perdeberg a great little punt there , try and buy a few cases , not easy , not the most helpful sales people , ooh then its lockdown then they cry that they cant survive !!! Thanks Laibach much more professional , now u got a loyal client forever .

    • Chantelle4 May 2021

      Dear Rolf
      I’m sorry to hear you had such a frustrating experience in placing an order with Perdeberg, but really appreciate you bringing this issue to our attention. We strive to always go above and beyond for our customers and it is disheartening to hear that you’ve not experienced this.

      I would like to rectify this and ask if you could please contact me on chantelle@perdeberg.co.za and we will look into this and hope to resolve it promptly and accurately.

  • Kwispedoor3 May 2021

    I found this report quite fascinating to read. Would it have been a big surprise if one had seen the following names in the Top 10?

    Bosman Optenhorst
    De Morgenzon Reserve
    Jordan Inspector Péringuey
    L’Avenir Single Block
    Leeuwenkuil Heritage (2019)
    Opstal Carl Everson
    Pilgrim
    Raats Old Vine
    Simonsig Avec Chêne
    Spier 21 Gables

    Yet, not a single one of these have even managed to reach the 90-point threshold… Quite a few other good ones barely did, like the R630 Kaapzicht 1947 at 90 points.

    Did the panel perhaps put just too much emphasis on freshness (there are plenty wines that can be considered as “entry level” in the 90+ point bracket)? Surely the list of ten wines above here are not all over-wooded or over-oxidative, even if some may need to be matured further to reach their best (not a bad quality for a wine to have)? Did the prices of many of our premium Chenins simply rise out of proportion to prices of other good Chenin that is available on the local market in particular? We all want to see more top wines entered into these tastings, but do massive tastings approaching a hundred wines perhaps simply introduce enough palate – and mental – fatigue to scramble results to a certain degree (absolutely no finger-pointing to this particular panel, which consists of very well-respected palates)? Apart from common sense – even seasoned tasters have to be honest with themselves about their accuracy after a certain amount of tasting – one also notices things like the Pilgrim and Eenzaamheid that scored significantly higher when Christian rated it than when the panel did (95 vs. 90 in the case of the latter).

    I don’t think any one thing on its own can be the answer here, but it certainly leaves me with some food for thought. And thank you for highlighting another few wines that would otherwise not necessarily be on one’s radar screen. Cavalli has been doing very well on your tastings recently. It’s a pity us Gautengers don’t really get much opportunity to taste their wines up here. None that I know of, anyways.

    • Gareth3 May 2021

      My initial thought, just from viewing the top 10, was that oak was punished.

      • Leana3 May 2021

        Yes most of them look like they are unwooden chenins although the Kleine Zalze has some propper oaky flavours. Also the Lebelle Rebelle is heavily wooded

        • Anonymous5 May 2021

          Find all the “Wine Masters” comments on this platform interesting.

          Christiaan have many times voiced his opinions on some of the Breedekloof wines and rather backed the Swartland wines. Many of the Swartland producers and others choose not to participate in competitions as bad scores is more damaging to their brands. I have no problem with this as a strategy and fully understand it and rate the Swartland wines as some of the best on the world.

          As example, Le Belle Rebelle won the Chenin trophy in 2019 at Michaelangelo Awards, featuring as Double gold winners at Veritas 2017 etc. in previous years, but I suppose the judges that make it their profession is less compitant than the options on this forum.

          The Breedekloof is completely different terroir than the Swartland and most of the statements referring to the wines in this report on the Top 10 have not made the effort to even to try these wines and have open minds that a wine pallet can differ from their’s. Both have a place and have consumers that can appreciate it.

          All the wine industry ask of consumers such as yourself is to respect the professionals such as Christiaan, Winemakers etc. views and not constantly voice your negative opinion. It creates more damage than good.

          If you are really passionate about the industry quit your day job, buy a winery or simply try spend a single day in probably the most challenging industry out there. Maybe then you will understand more about why your comments is unjust!

          • Colin6 May 2021

            Oh please – what an absurd argument. We should let mediocrity slide because it is a tough job making and selling wine? Do you mean to tell me that the wine industry is a tougher life than a coal miner’s, a trauma doctor, a policeman? Shall we give them a pass too because their jobs are tough?

            As the saying goes – if it is too hot, get out of the kitchen “Anonymous”.

            The same argument applies to critics like Christian. If he wants to criticise a wine – be it positive or negative – then he must be prepared to debate it vigorously as, inevitably, there will be a difference of opinion. He’s not getting a pass because his job is tough (which it certainly is not)

            • rolf7 May 2021

              Wow colin your the MAN hey , the dude. Wonder do u complain to John Platter or Veritas when u differ from them regarding ratings ?? Well u are the MAN so i guess u may

              • Colin8 May 2021

                *you’re
                *you

                If you want to try and make a point, at least get the grammar and spelling right.

            • RH9 May 2021

              I’ve got a fun idea: why not pretend that speaking to strangers on a comment board is the same as meeting them at a braai.

              We’re allowed to debate and have different opinions – it’s even welcomed, people LIKE to debate – but nobody wants to have a drink with us if we’re immediately a belligerent p03$.

              Most of your posts seem to be less wine and more whine. Please, man, I beg of you: tell us about a surprise bottle that you liked, an overrated bottle that you didn’t, and hit the gym if you’re feeling grumpy. X

      • Kylliki Lugna29 May 2021

        Exactly my thought.

    • GillesP3 May 2021

      Fully in agreement with your post. Big Chenin reference not recognized in this ranking. Wood expression is not well rated and appreciated on this website. The critics seems to have a clear preference for minerality and lighter red wines as well such as Cinsault. I am of the opposite.

      • Colin4 May 2021

        Gilles as much as I agree with your comment about wood not being appreciated by Eedes and co, I must strongly disagree about your statement about cinsault. Christian wouldn’t appreciate a lighter red style, be it pinot noir, cinsault or grenache – even if it repeatedly kicked him in his plums. He’s been called out on his absurdly low scores on those wines often enough.

    • Jax4 May 2021

      FYI Dry Dock Liquors in Parkhurst has the Cavalli Filly 2020 on offer and others…
      https://www.drydockliquor.co.za/collections/prescient-chenin-blanc-top-10-2021

    • Udo Goebel5 May 2021

      I guess it is a honest report if you give entry level wines scores up to 96/100, which is world class. Very brave. The Cavalli went up from 80/100 and 85/100 in Platter’s to 96/100 in this tasting, wow!

      But I wonder why most of the real winemakers of top Chenin don’t enter, I might have an idea 😉

  • Donald3 May 2021

    Some phenomenal value for money wines here that really over deliver in relation to price. Great to see a fairly high amount of entries too. A must read if you are a Chenin lover and if you aren’t why not?

  • Paul Benade3 May 2021

    Hi Christian,
    Could you please explain to me how you use the 100 point scoring system.
    Do you only use the section from 80 to 100, thus using a 20 point system?
    How do you equate it to the 20 point system?
    It just seems incredible that 49(54,4%) of the wines entered rates as wines of superior character and style with the balance, except one wine, rated as very good with special qualities! It is almost like giving every wine a double gold or gold medal!
    The scoring looks fantastic over the different catagories, but seems skewed against what is out there internationally.
    Regards,
    Paul.

    • Christian Eedes3 May 2021

      Hi Paul, In the most approximate terms, we equate the 100-point system to the 20-point system as follows:

      75 and below: under 13/20: 0 Stars
      76 – 79: 13/20: 1 Star
      80 – 83: 14/20: 2 Stars
      84 – 86: 15/20: 3 Stars
      87 – 89: 16/20: 4 Stars
      90 – 92: 17/20: 4.5 Stars
      93 – 100: 18+/20: 5 Stars

      A couple of observations: 1) the overall standard of viticulture and winemaking is much higher now than it was 20 years go which means there’s very little poor wine on the market; 2) I’d like to think that we are not radically out of sync with how the 100-point system is used internationally – you don’t often see any critic or competition publish scores much below 85 while scores above 95 are often agenda driven – it used to be very rare that anybody scored above 18 when the 20-point system held sway.

      • Paul Benade4 May 2021

        It is a pity that their is no agreement on how to use this system. Everybody/panel/country scales it for its own use. I don’t think this is what Robert Parker had intended. Leads to much more confusion for the general public and often makes the wines look better than they are.

  • Erwin+Lingenfelder3 May 2021

    Brilliant value for money for our home-brew! Probably the best white grape for our climate and definitely the most versatile.

    • RH4 May 2021

      Right?! I understand the urge to dig into the minutiae of the scores, but surely the takehome point is: we are really flippen spoiled for choice and there isn’t really any bad chenin to be had.
      At these prices, why even bother to drink water?

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