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Tim Atkin MW 2020 South African Report


  • Atkin says South Africa “making the best wines in its history”

  • “What we have now is a constellation shining bright above us in the firmament, made up of more than 100 winemaking stars.”

  • 1,381 wines tasted and 62 Zoom calls with winemakers replace usual month-long tour of the Cape to prepare the report

  • Two wines awarded 100-point scores, 32 Chenin Blancs scored 95+ points

  • Available on

Leading UK wine writer Tim Atkin MW has released his latest in-depth look at the South African wine sector.

His annual report, now in its eighth year and available on, is regarded as one of the most detailed and authoritative overviews of South African wine.

Best wines in its history

“Despite the well-publicised challenges it faces, South Africa is making the best wines in its history. 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.

“This is my eighth South Africa report,” comments Tim, “and it was very different in terms of its preparation to 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 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 standout 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.”

Wines and Winemakers of the Year

Tim Atkin also awards special mention to the standout wines and winemakers of the year. His 2020 Podium is reproduced below.

Acclaim for the report

Tim Atkin’s report has become the go-to guide to the dynamic South Africa wine scene.

Kristen Duff of leading Cape retailer PUBLIK WINE:

“Tim Atkin has not only become the foremost commentator on South African wine, but possibly also the industry's greatest international friend and ally. What arguably sets him apart is his holistic approach - while he goes to great lengths to assess and critique the 'objective' quality of individual wines, his reporting also encompasses broader socio-economic and human elements.”

Siobhan Thompson, CEO of Wines of South Africa:

“Year on year, we have seen South African wines grow in stature. This is echoed in a range of international competitions and ratings and we are confident that Tim Atkin’s 2020 report will once again highlight the outstanding quality of our wines. To have Tim’s seal of approval on a wine is a clear indicator to buyers and consumers that they can buy it with confidence.”


Winemaker of the Year: Gottfried Mocke of Boekenhoutskloof

Young Winemakers of the Year: David and Nadia Sadie of David & 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 & Daughters Snakes & 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

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