In his seventh annual guide to South Africa, award-winning British journalist and Master of Wine Tim Atkin contend that 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.
To reflect this quality, Atkin has awarded his first ever 100-point score in the New World to the 2015 Kanonkop Paul Sauer and 99 points to two whites: 2017 Alheit Vineyards Magnetic North and 2017 Sadie Family 'T Voetpad.
"I don’t give very high scores lightly, but these three stunning, world-class wines have earned it," says Atkin.
Atkin says our wine industry is a cause for national optimism and pride.
"The severe, three-year drought reduced yields severely in some regions, but didn’t affect the quality of the wines, especially of the 2015 reds and the 2017 whites," he says.
However, the Master of Wine says that 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," he says.
This year, Atkin singles out Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon, white blends, Bordeaux red blends, Cabernet Franc, Cinsault and Syrah for special praise and also comments on the success of the Old Vine Project in drawing attention to the Cape's heritage vineyards.
"It's vital that South Africa nurtures, promotes and protects this unique resource. So many of the country's best wines are sourced from old vines," he says.
Here are some of the wines that got a mention in Atkin's report
For the second year running, all three Steenberg Sauvignon Blancs have made the Atkin cut. This year Steenberg's Magna Carta 2017 got a scoring of 94/100.
Steenberg's flagship grande cuvée, Lady R MCC 2013, and the 2017 Semillon also hit the high notes in the 2018 Atkin report, scoring 93 points for their respective second consecutive vintages.
Leading the pack for the red wines are Steenberg’s flagship red, Catharina 2016, and Nebbiolo 2016, both with 92/100, followed by the 2016 Syrah on 90 points.
Atkin awarded 8 Boschendal wines with a score of 90 and over.
The Boschendal Elgin Chardonnay 2016 was the estate's top scorer, which received 95 points, adding to the many accolades and awards received by winemaker Lizelle Gerber’s vibrant and intricate creation. It was one of just 159 out of 1980 wines to score 95 points or more.
Constantia Glen's four flagship Bordeaux-style wines also broke the venerable 90 point barrier.
Top scorer this year with 95/100 for the second consecutive vintage, is Constantia Glen TWO 2017, one of Atkin's stand out South African wines that can compare with the best in the world.
Other top scorers are the flagship red, Constantia Glen FIVE 2014 with 92 points, the Constantia Glen Sauvignon Blanc 2018 on 91 and the Constantia Glen THREE 2015 achieving 90.
Tokara scored 9 7/100 for its super-premium Cabernet Sauvignon driven pinnacle, Telos 2015.
The flagship Tokara Director's Reserve Red 2014 and Tokara Reserve Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 also scored 96 points each.
All three these wines are included in what Atkin considers his "wines of the year" – a collection he believes that would compare with the best of any other wine-producing country.
Atkin also awarded Tokara's ultra-elegant MCC Blanc de Blancs 2011 94 points followed by the Reserve Collection Chardonnay 2016 and the Reserve Collection Syrah 2014, both on 93. The Reserve Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2017 was rated 92 points while the TOKARA Shiraz 2016 attained 90.