• A South African wine has been awarded the first perfect score for a New World wine from a UK wine expert.
  • Master of Wine Tim Atkin has just released a report on SA wines.
  • Two SA white wines received a score of 99 out of 100 points.


A leading UK wine expert has just given his first-ever perfect score to a wine in the New World (Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and the US) – and it happens to be a local wine: the 2015 Kanonkop Paul Sauer.

Master of Wine Tim Atkin, who has contributed on wine for the Observer, Harper's, the Economist and the BBC for the past three decades, has just released his seventh annual guide to South African wine.

See also: Here are the priciest wines sold at a top SA auction - including a R5,000 bottle of Chateau Libertas

Atkin says the 2015 Kanonkop Paul Sauer is "one of the greatest young wines I have ever tasted" and he gave it 100 points (out of 100). Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2015 is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. 

Atkin gave two South African white wines a near-perfect score of 99: 2017 Alheit Vineyards Magnetic North and 2017 Sadie Family ’T Voetpad.

“I don’t give very high scores lightly,” Atkin said, “but these three stunning, world-class wines have earned it.”

"To achieve the magical 100pt rating is a huge honour for Kanonkop, Stellenbosch and the South African wine industry as a whole,” said Kanonkop co-owner Johann Krige. 

“Never has more great wine been made by as many producers from around the world as now. This leads to critics such as Atkin having to be extremely judicious when deciding to award perfect scores, hence the rarity of such ratings," says Krige.  

The 2015 Kanonkop Paul Sauer retails for between R550 and R665 a bottle. The 2017 Alheit Vineyards Magnetic North costs between and R610 and almost R700 a bottle, while you can buy the 2017 Sadie Family ’T Voetpad as part of a case of 6 Sadie Family wines for R3,715.

Atkin says the 2015 and 2017 vintages have produced a brilliant series of wines that surpass anything in the country’s long history, and that they are “two of the best ever harvests” in the Cape.

“The severe, three-year drought reduced yields severely in some regions,” he says, “but didn’t affect the quality of the wines, especially of the 2015 reds and the 2017 whites.” If anything, the smaller crops may enable South Africa to charge more in export markets. “The price of Cape wines is still too low for the long-term good of the industry. Growers and producers have to be able to make a living.”

The report includes scores for nearly 2,000 wines, with retail prices in South African Rand, ranging from R40 to R25,000,  and a classification of the 250 best South African wineries.

Here are some of Atkin's awards:

  • Winemaker of the Year: Chris Alheit of Alheit VineyardsYoung Winemaker of the Year: Lukas van Loggerenberg of Van Loggerenberg WinesGrower of the Year: Basie van Lill
  • Co-operative of the Year: Klawer Cellars
  • Winemaking Legend: Jan Boland Coetzee of Vriesenhof
  • Overall White Wine of the Year: Sadie Family ’T Voetpad 2017
  • Overall Red Wine of the Year: Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2015
  • Overall Rosé of the Year: Raised by Wolves Newlands Pinot Meunier 2017
  • Overall Sparkling Wine of the Year: Le Lude Magnum Vintage Cuvée 2012
  • Overall Sweet Wine of the Year: Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2015
  • Overall Fortified Wine of the Year: De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve 2016
  • Red Wine Discovery of the Year: Rall Ava Syrah 2017
  • White Wine Discovery of the Year: Alheit Huilkrans 2017
  • Best Value White of the Year: Stellenrust Chenin Blanc 2018
  • Best Value Red of the Year: Zonnebloem SMV 2016
  • Best Value Rosé of the Year: Oude Kompagnies Post Swanepoel Rosé 2018
  • Best Value Sparkling Wine of the Year: Villiera Tradition Brut NV
  • Best Value Sweet Wine of the Year: Namaqua Noble Late Harvest 2013
  • Best Value Fortified Wine of the Year: Du Toitskloof Red Muscadel 2015

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