Tim Atkin releases 2020 report for South African wines


Leading UK wine writer Tim Atkin has released his latest in-depth look at the South African wine industry. His annual report, now in its eighth year, is regarded as one of the most detailed and authoritative overviews of South African wine. It is now available on www.timatkin.com

Best wines in its history

“Despite the well-publicised challenges, South Africa is making the best wines the country has ever made. Over the decade I’ve been writing these reports, it has been a delight to see the general improvements in quality and the tentative emergence of a South African fine wine sector, with bottles that are discussed, cellared, coveted, shared and sold at auction.

“Rather than just a few individuals, what we have now is a constellation shining bright above us in the firmament, made up of more than 100 winemaking stars,” Tim says.

“This is my eighth report on South Africa,” he comments, “and its preparation was quite different in terms of the previous seven. However, thanks to the help of Wines of South Africa and others, I was able to taste almost everything I needed to and talk to leading winemakers, viticulturists and industry figures.”

Perfect scores for perfect wines

For only the second time ever, Atkin has given the highest mark possible to a New World wine. This year, two wines – one red, one white – scored 100 points.

“This year, I have awarded two perfect scores of 100 points. These are only the second and third wines ever to receive this accolade (the first was Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2015, in 2018),” he says. “These remarkable, world-class wines are the 2018 Porseleinberg Syrah from the Swartland and the 2019 Sadie Family Skurfberg Chenin Blanc from Olifants River.

“Not only that, but 23 other wines scored 97 points or higher. Chenin Blanc is the outstanding grape this time, with 32 Chenins scoring 95 points or more, but rarer grapes such as Colombard, Tinta Barocca and Palomino also featured among my 153 wines of the year. I salute all the winning winemakers and viticulturists for their fantastic efforts and can’t wait to see them in person again soon.”

Tim Atkin wines and winemakers of the year

Tim Atkin also awards special mention to the outstanding wines and winemakers of the year. The following wines have been included in his 2020 Podium:

  • Winemaker of the Year: Gottfried Mocke of Boekenhoutskloof.
  • Young Winemakers of the Year: David and Nadia Sadie of David and Nadia.
  • Grower of the Year: Johan Reyneke of Reyneke Wines.
  • Co-operative of the Year: Riebeek Valley Wine Company.
  • Winemaking Legend: Peter Finlayson of Bouchard Finlayson.
  • Best Cellar Door Experience: Delaire Graff.
  • Overall White Wine of the Year: 2019 Sadie Family Skurfberg Chenin Blanc, Olifants River.
  • Overall Red Wine of the Year: 2018 Porseleinberg Syrah, Swartland.
  • Overall Rosé of the Year: 2019 Lievland Liefkoos Rosé, Stellenbosch.
  • Overall Sparkling Wine of the Year: 2014 Graham Beck Cuvée Clive, Western Cape.
  • Overall Sweet Wine of the Year: 2017 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance, Constantia.
  • Overall Fortified Wine of the Year: 2018 De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve, Calitzdorp.
  • Red Wine Discovery of the Year: 2017 Miles Mossop Sam, Stellenbosch.
  • White Wine Discovery of the Year: 2019 Thorne and Daughters Snakes and Ladders Sauvignon Blanc, Citrusdal Mountain.
  • Best Value White of the Year: 2019 Eikendal Janina Unwooded Chardonnay, Western Cape.
  • Best Value Red of the Year: 2019 Boplaas Touriga Nacional Family Reserve, Calitzdorp.
  • Best Value Rosé of the Year: 2019 Meerhof Grenache Rosé, Swartland.
  • Best Value Sparkling Wine of the Year: 2011 Bon Courage Jacques Bruère Blanc de Blancs, Robertson.
  • Best Value Sweet Wine of the Year: 2019 Klawer Cellars Villa Esposto Straw Wine, Citrusdal Mountain.
  • Best Value Fortified Wine of the Year: 2014 Alvi’s Drift Muscat de Frontignan, Worcester. – Press release, Tim Atkin