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  • Foto van schrijverGeert De Baere

Samenvatting Tim Atkin: South Africa Special Report 2023

Bijgewerkt op: 19 sep. 2023

Master of Wine Tim Atkin publiceerde zijn rapport over de Zuid-Afrikaanse wijnenindustrie en beoordeelde honderden Zuid-Afrikaanse wijnen. Hieronder kan u een aantal conclusies lezen.


South Africa’s white wines are some of best on the planet.

There isn’t a single style that South Africa doesn’t do well.












Conclusie 1 : Aanstekelijk enthousiasme én een zeer bewuste, eerlijke en transparante houding van de wijnmakers.

- South Africa: There’s an energy to the place that’s infectious.

- It’s a feature of many of the South African wines I like most. They have a sense of place, or places. They are honest and transparent.


Conclusie 2: South Africa’s white wines are some of best on the planet.

it’s still significant that the wider world, let alone many South Africans, does not appreciate the quality of Cape wines, both white and red. Can they compete with the best from elsewhere? They

can, they really can. And I say this as someone who tastes top wines on a regular basis.

The wines are improving with (almost) every vintage.


Conclusie 3: South Africa’s reds are now a match for its world-class whites.

Fifteen years doesn’t seem like a long-time in the history of a wine-producing

nation. But it’s surprising how much and how quickly things can change in just over a decade.

Better viticulture and site selection, superior virus-free plant material and a broader palette

of grape varieties, including those like Cabernet Franc, Cinsault, Syrah and Grenache that

don’t need new oak to show at their best, have all played a part in the changes. So has the

improving quality of South Africa’s Pinot Noirs and a different approach to Pinotage. Lighter,

fresher, paler wines that work better with food are in vogue.


Conclusie 4: South Africa’s Cap Classique bubblies are increasingly impressive.

In Zuid-Afrika maakt men, op dezelfde manier als in de Champagne regio mousserende wijnen. MCC = Methode Cap Classique.

South Africa’s sparkling wines have always represented good value, but these days the quality is there too. Of the 121 wines I tasted for this report, 85 scored over 90 points, which is a record haul for fizz. No wonder sales are growing by 12% per annum.

Do these wines taste like Champagne? Not really, but I’m not sure that matters. They

have what Pieter Ferreira calls “sunshine depth” and they have complexity, balance and

finesse too. What’s more, they are mostly sold at approachable prices. There has never been a

better time to drink Cap Classique wines.


Conclusie 5: Fransen investeren in Zuid-Afrikaanse wijngaarden.

Foreign interest in the winelands is a good sign. Companies are investing in the future of the South African wine industry.

Not far behind the French in the investment stakes are the Germans these days.


Conclusie 6: Table Mountain is six times older than the Himalayas.

Terroir wint aan belang. De bodem is de oudste ter wereld en is al 950 miljoen jaar oud.

Terroir is increasingly important and defines many of South Africa’s best wines.

At its best, South Africa is increasingly terroir-driven.


Talking of history, South Africa has the oldest viticultural soils in the world, dating back 950m years in the case of Malmesbury shales to a time when the Western Cape was an underwater basin. As Jim Clarke writes in The Wines of South Africa, “the geology of the Cape’s winelands is the geology of ancient Gondwanaland”, the single large supercontinent that encompassed Africa, Arabia, Antarctica, Australia, India, South America and Zealandia.

The Cape’s climate is essentially Mediterranean, with cooler pockets influenced by altitude or proximity to the Atlantic or Indian Oceans. This means that it can produce pretty much any style of wine well, from fizz to fortified, Sauvignon Blanc to Viognier, Pinot Noir to Petit Verdot, Syrah

to Sangiovese. Add the diversity of soil types, which include shale, schist, iron, granite,

sandstone and even a little limestone, and you have an even more complex picture, surrounded

by some of the most diverse flora on earth. South Africa has over 9,500 different species of

plants, 70% of which only grow there. The Cape Floral Kingdom is a huge part of its terroir.


Conclusie 7: Cape producers are slowly embracing a more diverse line-up of grape varieties.

Chenin Blanc (18.4% of the total under vine), Sauvignon Blanc (11.2%), Colombard (10.07%), Cabernet Sauvignon (10.6%), Syrah (10%), Pinotage (7.4%), Chardonnay (7.3%), Merlot (5.9%),

Ruby Cabernet (2.1%), Cinsault (1.9%), Muscat d’Alexandrie (1.5%), Pinot Noir (1.3%), Semillon

(1%), Muscat Blanc (0.9%), Cabernet Franc (0.9%) and Viognier (0.7%).

And yet things are evolving. South Africa grows more than 130 grape varieties, of which

around 110 are suitable for wine. Most remain comparatively minor players, but Malbec (735ha), Petit Verdot (715ha), Grenache (552ha), Mourvèdre (481ha), Petite Sirah (408ha), Grenache Blanc (158ha), Tinta Barocca (149ha), Tannat (130ha), Carignan (127ha) and Tempranillo (106ha) all have a decent presence in the Cape.


Conclusie 8: het aantal hectaren wijngaard vermindert jaar na jaar. 2023: 89384 ha.

South Africa is the eighth largest wine producer globally and the fifth in the New World after the

USA, Australia, Chile and Argentina.

Paarl (16.03% of the total), Robertson (14.42%), Breedekloof (14.23%), Stellenbosch (13.65%),

Swartland (13.57%), Olifants River (9.61%), Worcester (7.14%), Northern Cape (3.18%),

Cape South Coast (2.92%) and the Klein Karoo (2.35%).

South African wine, for the most part, is produced by small wine farms and wineries:

1,806 of the former and 358 of the latter grow or crush fewer than 500 tons of grapes. The

35 big players – companies which process more than 10,000 tons – are small in number

overwhelmingly (31) co-operatives, whose primary focus is quantity rather than quality in

most cases. Like the area under vine, the number of producers of all sizes is in decline. There were 604 wineries and co-ops in 2009, which reflect a degree of consolidation, but also the challenges of making money in a country where prices per litre are cheap and bulk shipments and bag-in box still hold sway.


Conclusie 9: There’s no such thing as a normal vintage in the Cape anymore. The further you move up the quality ladder, the more important and apparent the differences between vintages. It's also true that countrywide generalisations are increasingly unreliable.A stiflingly hot vintage in the Swartland or Stellenbosch, might be a cool one in Elgin or Elim.


Orgineel rapport

2023 South Africa Special Report – Tim Atkin – Master of Wine. (n.d.). https://timatkin.com/product/2023-south-africa-special-report/


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