Home / Awards / Full round up of Tim Atkin MW’s SA Report 2020

Full round up of Tim Atkin MW’s SA Report 2020

Bouchard Finlayson Kaaimansgat (Crocodiles Lair) Chardonnay 2018 Elandskloof (13.8%) 93 pts
Kaaimansgat helped to launch the modern Chardonnay revolution in South Africa and remains an impressive example of the variety. Toasty, pithy and showing some gunflint and struck match aromas, this is zesty, well balanced and effortlessly complex with enough texture to complement the wood. 2021-26

Bouchard Finlayson Missionvale Chardonnay 2018 Hemel-en-Aarde Valley (13.3%) 93 pts
If Kaaimansgat is a single-vineyard Chardonnay, Missionvale combines fruit from three sites in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, all of them planted with the classy CY95 clone. Rich and weighty, with a significant contribution from partial malolactic fermentation, flavours of toast, cream and lemon butter and a taut, refreshing finish. 2021-26

Bouchard Finlayson Sans Barrique Chardonnay 2018 Cape South Coast (13.6%) 90 pts
I sometimes wish there were more unoaked Chenins in South Africa, which are generally preferable to over-wooded ones. This combines honey, peach and citrus fruit flavours with some stony minerality and racy, palate-cleansing acidity. 2020-23

Bouchard Finlayson Sauvignon Blanc 2019 Walker Bay (12.8%) 90 pts
Unoaked, zesty and packed with flavour and mouth-watering acidity, this has lovely gooseberry, lemongrass and kiwi fruit flavours, a herbal undertone and a clean, fresh, satisfying finish. Textbook stuff. 2020-22

Bouchard Finlayson Hannibal 2018 Walker Bay (14.3%) 94 pts
This is the best vintage I’ve ever tasted of this innovative, left-field blend of Sangiovese with 61% Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Mourvèdre, Barbera and Nebbiolo. Think of a wine that combines the flavours of Chianti, Barolo, red Burgundy and the northern Rhône and you have some idea of its appeal. Savoury and spicy, with tar, rose petal and red berry fruit and granular, grippy tannins. 2022-28

Darling Cellars Gustus Pinotage 2018 Darling (13.6%) 91 pts
Fresher, lower in alcohol and more refined than the 2017, this is a bright, perfumed, comparatively forward style of Pinotage from Pieter-Niel Rossouw with smooth tannins, a core of patisserie and sweet summer pudding fruit and a dusting of oak spice. 2021-24

Darling Cellars Old Bush Vines Cinsault 2018 Darling (13.8%) 90 pts
Darling is a happy hunting ground for lovers of old-vine Cinsault. This blend with 8% Syrah comes from a parcel planted in the late 1980s and is a comparatively serious, concentrated style with smoky oak aromas and layers of bramble, raspberry and black cherry fruit. 2021-24

DeMorgenzon Chenin Blanc Reserve 2019 Stellenbosch (14%) 95 pts
It’s always a toss-up between the Reserve Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc at DeMorgenzon, as both are excellent, but in 2019 I slightly prefer the latter. Sourced from the four best blocks on the farm, this is rich and exotic, with toasty 10% new French wood, taut underlying acidity and the concentration to develop in bottle. 2021-26

DeMorgenzon Chardonnay Reserve 2019 Stellenbosch (14%) 94 pts
Definitely at the riper, plusher end of the Chardonnay spectrum in Stellenbosch in 2019, this is a plush, glossy, intensely fruity white with peach, nectarine and lemon flavours, aromatic 30% new wood and a creamy mid-palate from 66% malolactic. Ripe but balanced. 2021-25

DeMorgenzon Maestro White 2018 Stellenbosch (14%) 93 pts
Roussanne-dominated with the remaining 62% made up of Chenin Blanc, Grenache Blanc and lesser amounts of Viognier and Marsanne, this is a seamless Rhône meets the Loire blend from Carl van der Merwe. Pear, peach and a hint of tropical fruit are nicely framed by one-third new oak here. 2020-24

DeMorgenzon DMZ Chenin Blanc 2019 Stellenbosch (14%) 91 pts
A little bit of new barrel-aged Chenin makes its way into this wine from what Americans call “the Reserve programme”, but its focus is squarely on fruit. Aniseed and pear flavours combine appealingly on the palate with classic Chenin focus and freshness. 2021-25

DeMorgenzon DMZ Chardonnay 2019 Stellenbosch (14%) 90 pts
A lot of work goes into producing this excellent value Chardonnay and it shows in the quality and reliability of the wine. Very lightly wooded, it has beeswax, lemongrass and stone fruit flavours and refreshing, balancing acidity. 2020-23

DeMorgenzon DMZ Syrah 2018 Stellenbosch (14%) 91 pts
DMZ Syrah always over-delivers at its price point, producing a Cape equivalent of a good Crozes-Hermitage. Lightly wooded in 10% new French oak, this has scented blackberry and blueberry fruit, a twist of liquorice and some whole bunch spice. 2021-24

DeMorgenzon MCC NV Stellenbosch (12.6%) 91 pts
Produced from separately picked Chenin Blanc and 15% Chardonnay, all from the DeMorgenzon estate, this lightly wooded bubbly is winningly unusual in the Cape. Just off dry at 4.7 grams of dosage, it’s rich and appley with tangy, stony minerality and just a hint of peachy sweetness. 2020-24

Donkiesbaai Steen 2019 Piekenierskloof (13.6%) 91 pts
Five different components – featuring stainless steel, oak, concrete eggs and amphoras – are used to make this focused, appealingly packaged Steen from Piekenierskloof. Quince, fresh lemon and wet stone notes are framed by gentle, fragrant oak. 2020-25

Donkiesbaai Rooiwijn 2018 Piekenierskloof (12.9%) 91 pts
The polar opposite of the red wines Jean Engelbrecht makes at his home base, Rust en Vrede, this is a light to medium-bodied blend of equal parts Cinsault and Grenache with 5% Syrah. Showing lots of whole bunch spice and texture, it’s bright, aromatic and tangy with savoury tannins, red berry crunch and a whisper of oak. 2022-25

Donkiesbaai Pinot Noir 2018 Ceres Plateau (13.8%) 91 pts
The up-and-coming and very exciting Ceres Plateau supplies the raw material for this floral, elegant, mouth-watering expression of Burgundy’s so-called heartbreak grape. Very lightly wooded, this is a fruit-driven style, all pomegranate and red cherry and fine-boned tannins. 2021-24#

Donkiesbaai Hooiwijn 2019 Piekenierskloof (9.4%) 93 pts
Left on straw mats for three weeks to dry and increase their concentration, the grapes for this deliciously proportioned sweet wine come from old vine Chenin Blanc parcels in Piekenierskloof and show the racy acidity of this higher altitude region. The 233 grams of sugar are complemented by flavours of pear tart and a lemon zest finish. 2021-27

Ernie Els Proprietor’s Blend 2017 Stellenbosch (14.5%) 94 pts
Among the best young releases I’ve had from Louis Strydom, this is very much a Helderberg style, with lots of intensity, perfume and structure. Made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with Shiraz, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot, it has plenty of dark berry fruit, fine, silky, granular tannins, subtle oak, appealing freshness and a long, refined palate. 2022-29

Ernie Els Proprietor’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 Stellenbosch (14.9%) 92 pts
Typical of the Ernie Els style and reflecting the winery’s position on one of the warmer parts of the Helderberg, this assemblage of Cabernet Sauvignon with a splash of Petit Verdot for added backbone is rich, intense and slightly jammy with fine tannins, scented oak and palate-coating fig and blackcurrant flavours. Very much a 2016. 2020-26

Glenelly Estate Chardonnay Reserve 2019 Stellenbosch (13%) 90 pts
Reminiscent of the style of Chardonnays that you find in the southern Burgundian region of the Mâconnais, this is ripe, fruity and appealingly spicy, with 18% new wood, melon and citrus fruit, a hint of orange zest and a soft, palate-coating finish. 2021

Glenelly Estate Reserve Red 2015 Stellenbosch (14.5%) 94 pts
Were it not for the presence of 15% Syrah in the mix, this would be a four-way Bordeaux blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with 10% each of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Structured, stylish, intense, with plenty of vibrancy and ageing potential, layers of plum, mulberry and blackcurrant leaf flavours, some fresh herbs and fine, granular tannins. 2022-27

Glenelly Lady May 2015 Stellenbosch (14.5%) 94 pts
Very much a wine that is built to last, this is ripe, tannic and intense, combining cut grass and green herb aromas with lots of cedarwood, cigar box and structured dark berry fruit. Cabernet Sauvignon leads the way, supported by 31% Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Possibly just a little figgy on the finish. 2022-29

Glenelly The Glass Collection Cabernet Franc 2018 Stellenbosch (14.5%) 92 pts
Priced above the other reds in the Glass Collection range for some reason – maybe there’s less of it or perhaps it reflects demand – this is a supple, scented, graceful Cabernet Franc from Luke O’Cuinneagain with leafy freshness and focus, perfumed 20% new wood and silky tannins for a 2018. 2021-26

Glenelly The Glass Collection Merlot 2018 Stellenbosch (14.5%) 92 pts
One of the two best reds in the Glass Collection range in 2018, this has appealing red berry and cut grass aromas, vanilla spicy 18% new oak, appealing, texture, balance and complexity and more structure and backbone than you think. Polished winemaking from Luke O’Cuinneagain. 2022-28

Glenelly The Glass Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 Stellenbosch (13.3%) 91 pts
You’d expect a winery created by a former second growth Bordeaux château owner to be good at making Cabernet Sauvignon, even at this comparatively inexpensive price, and you’d be right. Fresh, elegant and perfumed, with cassis and lead pencil notes, graceful tannins and stylish 15% new wood. 2022-26

Kaapzicht The 1947 Chenin Blanc 2019 Stellenbosch (14.1%) 95 pts
Who says old vines don’t make a difference? This stunning 1947 single vineyard sees what Danie Steytler calls “minimalistic” winemaking, such is the quality of the fruit. Floral, dense, rich and very deftly wooded, with stone fruit, lemon and pineapple flavours, some tarte tatin and incredible length and minerality. 2022-27

Kaapzicht Kilprug Chenin Blanc 2019 Stellenbosch (13.9%) 91 pts
Something of a bargain in the world of South African Chenin Blanc – and a best seller at UK supermarket chain, Waitrose – this is fresh yet exotic, with a hint of botrytis, pineapple and citrus fruit and the faintest touch of oak spice. A delicious drink. 2020-23

Kaapzicht Skuinsberg Cinsault 2019 Stellenbosch (12.1%) 90 pts
Refreshing, low in alcohol and a charming introduction to the joys of Cape Cinsault, this is all about plum and red cherry fruit rather than wood, with fine tannins, lots of crunchy acidity and impressive underlying concentration for a wine at the price. 2021-24

Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2017 Stellenbosch (14%) 98 pts
Would I or wouldn’t I give this 100 points? I tasted it over a period of five days against a number of its competitors, and it nearly got there. Time may prove me wrong, but I don’t think this is quite at the level of the 2015. But it’s still a stunning wine, combining Cabernet Sauvignon with 17% Cabernet Franc and 7% Merlot. Youthful, concentrated and less immediate than the 2015, with a little more oak spice, it’s a taut, ageworthy style with layers of bramble, cigar box and blackcurrant fruit and sinewy tannins. 2025-35

Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage 2018 Stellenbosch (14.8%) 96 pts
Serious, smoky, dark and brooding, this old-vine cuvée is always one of the best Pinotages in the Cape, with a price tag to match. Intense, concentrated and with a beguiling combination of red and black fruits, scented new wood, a slight volatile lift and plenty of underlying structure. 2022-30

Kanonkop Pinotage 2018 Stellenbosch (14.8%) 94 pts
“Hot, long and tiring” is how Johann Krige describes the 2018 vintage, but Kanonkop more than coped with the challenge. The tannins are quite serious here, lending the wine structure and ageing potential. The palate is sweet and layered, with notes of sweet spices and patisserie and a long, tapering finish. 2022-30

Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 Stellenbosch (14.3%) 93 pts
Firm, serious, robust and showing a little – but not too much – of the heat of the 2016 vintage, this was released a little later to allow it to soften in bottle. Dense and compact with layers of damson and black cherry fruit and scented new oak. One to tuck away in the cellar. 2022-28

Kanonkop Kadette Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 Stellenbosch (14.4%) 92 pts
“It’s taken us years to get this right,” says Johann Kriege, but the team at Kanonkop has succeeded. Cassis and wild herb aromas lead you into a palate that’s focused, refreshing and appealingly oaked with red berry sweetness and sculpted tannins. 2021-26

Kanonkop Kadette Pinotage 2018 Stellenbosch (14.3%) 92 pts
Abrie Beeslaar has a magic touch with Pinotage, whatever the price point. This 450,000-bottle example, most of it bought from local growers, is spicy, textured and very lightly wooded, with classic raspberry and red berry fruit and supple tannins. Very drinkable. 2020-25

Kanonkop Kadette Cape Blend 2018 Stellenbosch (14.3%) 90 pts
You’ve got to applaud a winery that makes 1.7m bottles of a red blend of this quality. Produced from Pinotage with 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, it’s a floral, textured, well-structured cuvée with notes of mint and dried herbs and a core of cassis and raspberry fruit. Impressive value. 2020-24

Lemberg Hárslevelü 2019 Tulbagh (14.6%) 93 pts
One of very few wines made with the Hárslevelü grape outside its native Hungary, this is a complex white with oxidatively handled, carbonic maceration and skin contact components. Leesy, zesty and appealingly bitter, with citrus and aniseed flavours, it’s built around a core of racy acidity. Intriguing. 2021-26

Lemberg Lady 2018 Tulbagh (13%) 92 pts
Viognier based, but with a 47% contribution from Hárslevelü, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, this is a very stylish, textured, refreshing white from Lemberg, which definitely amounts to more than the sum of its parts. Pear and peach flavours are supported by zesty acidity and subtle, understated oak spice. 2020-24

Lemberg Nelson Shiraz 2014 Tulbagh (15%) 92 pts
Nelson is almost a varietal Syrah, with just 3% Carignan completing the blend. Showing some appealing bottle aged characters of tobacco, earth and aromatic spices, a core of sweet red fruit and aromas of fresh leather, vanilla and liquorice. Complex stuff. 2020-23

Lemberg Spencer Pinotage 2016 Tulbagh (13.8%) 91 pts
From alluvial soils over the clay base that Pinotage seems to like so much, this is a fresh, savoury, nicely delineated red with understated vanilla spice, refreshing acidity and mulberry and wild strawberry fruit. A refined rather than blockbuster style. 2020-24

Catherine Marshall Chenin Blanc Fermented In Clay 2019 Western Cape (13%) 94 pts
Cathy Marshall marries Chenin Blanc grapes from Elgin and Bottelary to produce this stylish, mostly amphora-fermented white. Complex and intense, this is a wine that eschews easy fruit flavours. Fresh and spicy with beeswax and citrus notes and an earthy undertone. 2021-25

Catherine Marshall Sauvignon Blanc 2019 Elgin (14.1%) 92 pts
No fewer than four clones – two from the Graves, one from South Africa and one from Sancerre – are used to make this typically refined, understated, saline Sauvignon Blanc from Cathy Marshall, with nettle and fresh herbs aromas and a stony, refreshing finish. 2020-22

Catherine Marshall Finite Elements Pinot Noir 2019 Elgin (13%) 95 pts
Ambitiously priced and worth every Rand when you taste the wine, this is a small volume Pinot from one of the best exponents of the grape in South Africa. Wonderfully complex, detailed and nuanced, it’s meaty, savoury, yet sweet, with fine-boned tannins, subtle wood toast, some spices from 40% whole bunches and fresh, balancing acidity. 2021-26

Catherine Marshall Pinot Noir on Clay Soils 2019 Elgin (13%) 94 pts
The clay soils of the terroir that produces this impressive Elgin Pinot Noir give it texture, weight and concentration. Sweet, plush and smooth, it has layers of raspberry and wild strawberry fruit, earthy, ferrous undertones, fine tannins and a long, complex finish. 2021-26

Catherine Marshall Pinot Noir on Sandstone 2019 Elgin (13.4%) 92 pts
Light, floral and perfumed, this is the juiciest and most refreshing of Cathy Marshall’s Pinot Noirs. Made with 40% whole bunches and aged in older barrels, it has cherrystone and pomegranate flavours, notes of rose petal and white pepper and a tangy finish. 2021-25

Paul Cluver Estate Chardonnay 2019 Elgin (13%) 93 pts
One of the few Paul Cluver wines to survive the effects of the fire in 2019, this hints at what top Chardonnay lovers missed out on in a vintage when there was no Seven Flags release. Subtle, leesy and sensitively oaked, with good texture and focus and pear and lemongrass flavours. 2020-23

Paul Cluver Sauvignon Blanc 2020 Elgin (13%) 90 pts
Showing a lot more weight and intensity than most commercial Sauvignon Blancs, this is dry, rich and nicely focused, with notes of elderflower and citrus, a nettley undertone and a leesy, creamy mid palate. 2020-22

Rust en Vrede Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 Stellenbosch (14.6%) 94 pts
My favourite wine in the current Rust en Vrede line up, this single site Cabernet Sauvignon all hails from Block 4 on the property and seems to have a freshness that some of the other reds lack. Plum, blackberry and blackcurrant leaf flavours are supported by 50% new wood and dense, but well-proportioned tannins. 2022-29

Rust en Vrede 1694 Classification 2016 Stellenbosch (14.3%) 92 pts
1694 is always Syrah dominated, with 39% Cabernet Sauvignon in this instance. Ambitiously priced and sumptuously oaked in 50% new wood, this has layered tannins, spicy, aromatic red berry fruit, some cassis and mint and tannins that are much softer than in 2015. 2022-27

Rust en Vrede Estate 2017 Stellenbosch (14.6%) 92 pts
Powerful, plush, bold and full-bodied, this is a quintessential central Helderberg red made from Cabernet Sauvignon with 48% Syrah and Merlot and aged in 40% new wood. Smoky plum, fig and damson flavours are supported by compact tannins and enough acidity and minerality for balance. 2022-29 S

Rust en Vrede Single Vineyard Syrah 2016 Stellenbosch (14.2%) 91 pts
Coenie Snyman thinks that Syrah is a slightly under-rated variety at Rust en Vrede and he has a point. This suffers slightly from the 2016 vintage effect, but what it lacks in concentration it makes up for in perfume, subtle oak and bramble and black cherry fruit.

Rust en Vrede Estate Vineyards Syrah 2017 Stellenbosch (14.6%) 91 pts
Rust en Vrede’s Syrah comes from vineyards located across this beautiful Helderberg property, all of which face north on warmer sites. Bright, aromatic and scented, it has liquorice and blackberry fruit, fine tannins, the freshness and structure of the 2017 vintage and stylish oak. 2022-27

Rustenberg Buzzard Kloof Syrah 2018 Stellenbosch (14%) 91 pts
There was a touch of reduction on this youthful Syrah when I tasted it, but that’s often part of the variety’s personality. Firm, serious and rich, with notes of dried herbs and sweet Asian spices, layers of blackberry and liquorice and a sinewy finish. 2022-26

Rustenberg John X Merriman 2017 Stellenbosch (14.5%) 94 pts
There might still be some 2017 John X on shelves, and if there is make sure you bag yourself a case. Dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon with 50% Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, this is outrageously good value for a wine of this quality. Subtle, seamless and polished with structure, fruit weight and leafy top notes. 2022-27

Rustenberg John X Merriman 2018 Stellenbosch (14%) 93 pts
It may not (quite) scale the same heights as the 2017, but this five-way Bordeaux red blend is still a very assured wine from the Barlows. Cassis and red berry fruit flavours are framed by 35% new wood, with a sprig of mint adding extra perfume. 2022-27

Rustenberg Peter Barlow 2017 Stellenbosch (14.5%) 96 pts
What a wine! I can’t remember tasting a better young Peter Barlow than this, which fully expresses the brilliance of the 2017 vintage. Serious, focused, compact and built to last, it has very fine 65% new wood, classic blackcurrant and cedarwood notes, graceful tannins and a long, nuanced, refreshing finish. 2023-32

Rustenberg Five Soldiers Chardonnay 2018 Stellenbosch (13.5%) 93 pts
Bigger and richer than the straight Stellenbosch Chardonnay, but this too has shifted in style in recent vintages. There’s a touch of tropical guava fruit here, along with a drizzle of honey, but the core of the wine is all about freshness, with smart 70% new oak integration. 2020-24

Rustenberg Chardonnay 2019 Stellenbosch (13%) 92 pts
Half the price of the Five Soldiers release and not far behind it in terms of quality, this Chardonnay has shifted in style of late towards more precision and minerality. Aniseed and pear flavours lead you into a fresh, well-balanced finish with just a hint of oak. 2020-24

Rustenberg Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc 2019 Stellenbosch (13%) 91 pts
Pale and aromatic, this is a very gently wooded Sauvignon Blanc from Murray Barlow and Craig Christians, which relies on fruit quality and lees contact rather than its 12% new wood. Fresh, focused and lightly toasty with classic lemongrass and citrus flavours. 2020-23

Waterford Estate Kevin Arnold Shiraz 2016 Stellenbosch (14%) 94 pts
There’s been a welcome shift in style on this wine in recent years towards less new oak and alcohol. Blended with 12% Mourvèdre and fermented with 2% whole bunches, it’s inky, savoury and intense with scented blackberry fruit, some black olive and tapenade and a fresh, granular finish. 2021-28

Waterford Estate Single Vineyard Grenache Noir 2018 Stellenbosch (14%) 94 pts
Now into its fourth vintage, the Waterford Grenache proves that you don’t have to be based in Piekenierskloof to make great examples of the southern Rhône’s best grape. Delicate, floral and lightly wooded, it has red cherry and raspberry fruit and undertones of clove and smoked bacon. 2021-26

Waterford Estate Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2018 Stellenbosch (12%) 93 pts
Planted back in 1988, Chardonnay remains the only white grape on Waterford’s estate on the Helderberg. Showing some of the creaminess and breadth of the warmer 2018 vintage, but this subtly wooded number has lovely underlying minerality and citrus peel freshness. 2021-25

Waterford Old Vine Project Chenin Blanc 2018 Stellenbosch (13.5%) 92 pts
Waterford buy old-vine fruit from sites in Bottelary and Devon Valley to make this OVP Chenin Blanc. Fermented in a combination of concrete and old wood, it’s a textured, pithy, elegant white with good structure and flavours of greengage, pear and what Mark Le Roux calls a “positive bitterness”. 2020-23

Waterford Sauvignon Blanc 2019 Elgin (13%) 90 pts
Waterford’s enjoyable Sauvignon Blanc comes from a site close to Iona in Elgin. Stainless steel fermented and aged on its lees for six months, it’s pale and scented, with subtle reduction, lemongrass and pink grapefruit flavours and a tangy finish. 2020-22

Waterford Estate The Jem 2015 Stellenbosch (14%) 96 pts
Ambitiously priced, and rightly so given the wine’s track record, The Jem is based on Cabernet Sauvignon, with the other 52% made up of Shiraz, Mourvèdre, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese and Barbera. Herbal, earthy, spicy and dense, with considerable concentration and power, notes of green herbs, red berries, damson, fresh tobacco and Mediterranean spices. 2023-30

Waterford Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 Stellenbosch (13.5%) 95 pts
Often among my favourite Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignons, this textbook Helderberg red was blended with 3% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc in 2017. Scented, refined and effortlessly dense and complex, with aromatic 30% new wood, mocha, cedarwood and cassis flavours and a long, balanced, herbal finish. 2022-29