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What's in store for the 2018 Chenin Blanc Top 10

The Chenin Blanc Association has announced that entries for the 2018 Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge are now officially open. South African winemakers may submit any style as long as the residual sugar of their entries does not exceed 12g per litre.

Photo by Thomas Martinsen on Unsplash

“We’re celebrating Chenin’s range. That’s part of its appeal and we invite winemakers to submit the wines that make them proudest, irrespective of style, so long as the residual sugar limit is not breached,” explains Ina Smith, manager of the Chenin Blanc Association.


Smith and her colleagues have lined up a panel of judges, which includes three Masters of Wine (MW). They will taste the submissions blind with each judge starting at a different point in the flight to combat palate fatigue. “Collectively, the group brings to the task a wealth of expertise in winemaking, wine trading, and wine service,” she says.

The panel is chaired, once again, by wine judge Cathy van Zyl, who is also associate editor of Platter’s South African Wine Guide. Simon Field (MW), long-time former buyer for UK fine wine merchants Berry Bros & Rudd, will be flying into the Winelands for the challenge. The third MW is celebrated winemaker Richard Kershaw, known for his cool-climate Elgin wines.

Simon Field (Image Supplied)

They are joined by James Pietersen, Wine Cellar’s South African portfolio manager and a regular judge in leading local wine shows. Completing the panel is Tinashe Nyamudoka, head sommelier and beverage manager for the Test Kitchen and associate judge Spencer Fondaumiere, who is manager and sommelier of Burrata.

Rewarding wine farm workers

2018 marks the fifth of the challenge that annually awards a cash prize to the producers of the top 10 Chenins selected. The stipulation is that the money - R25,000 per winning wine - goes towards a socially sustainable initiative involving wine farm workers. To date, a total of R850,000 has been spent on social upliftment programmes.

“The purpose of the challenge is twofold,” confirms Willie du Plessis, who is the Western Cape executive head of business banking for Standard Bank SA. “Firstly, it acknowledges and highlights the excellence of South Africa’s top-quality Chenins. As importantly, it is to reward the integral role of wine farm workers in contributing to South Africa’s profile as a world-class producer of this extraordinary varietal.”

Entries should be delivered to Villiera Wines, Stellenbosch, between 25-28 June 2018. They will be tasted from 3-5 July 2018, and the winners announced in August 2018. For more information, go to Chenin Blanc SA or .
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