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Tim Atkin MW’s South African report

The seventh edition of Tim Atkin MW’s South African report was published yesterday, with 70 of our listed wines receiving over 90 points. Special mention must go to Kanonkop and their 2015 Paul Sauer which Tim awarded an astounding 100 points – the first 100-point wine from the New World since the reports began, and named ‘Red wine of the Year’.

Of these 70 wines, the following achieved 95+ pts:

2015 Paul Sauer, Kanonkop, Stellenbosch – 100 pts
A great wine, with a distinguished track record in one of the best-ever Cape vintages: if any South African wine deserves 100 points, and I strongly believe that it does, then it is the brilliant 2015 Paul Sauer, one of the greatest young wines I have ever tasted. Cabernet Sauvignon-based with 15% each of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this is intense, refined and well balanced, with seamless tannins and structure and beautifully integrated new oak. Bravo Kanonkop! Bravo South Africa!

2014 Lady May, Glenelly, Stellenbosch – 96 pts
The 2014 release has less Cabernet Sauvignon and more Cabernet Franc than the 2013 and is better for it in my opinion. it’s another wine that lives up to the Bordeaux pedigree of its owner, May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, with violets and graphite on the nose, fine tannins and a long, refreshing finish.

2016 Black Label Pinotage, Kanonkop, Stellenbosch – 96 pts
One four-hectare block, planted in 1953, supplies the grapes for this world class Pinotage, first made on 2006. Picked early in 2016, it’s opaque, rich and very serious, a wine that almost supersedes its variety. Layered, complex and built for a long life, with lots of tannin, violet and blueberry fruit and well-integrated new oak.

2017 Noble Late Harvest, Paul Cluver, Elgin – 96 pts
Around half the bunches of this superb sweet wine were affected with botrytis in 2017. Not released since 2014, this is consistently one of the Cape’s greatest sweet wines, with wonderful sweet and sour notes, some pepper spice and restrained exotic fruit flavours.

2017 Seven Flags Chardonnay, Paul Cluver, Elgin – 95 pts
Burgundian Martin Prieur consults on this world class Chardonnay, aged in one third new oak and combining laser-like acidity with aromatic oak, savoury undertones, lovely weight and remarkable precision and palate length. Brilliant winemaking.

2017 Reserve Chenin Blanc, DeMorgenzon, Stellenbosch – 95 pts
The wine that has made DeMorgenzon’s modern reputation under Carl van der Merwe, this 23,000-bottle blend really shows the intensity of the 2017 vintage. Apple and pear fruit are framed by scented oak and supported by a steely finish. A consistently impressive white.

2017 The 1947 Chenin Blanc, Kaapzicht, Stellenbosch – 95 pts
Only 900 bottles of this remarkable Chenin are produced, alas, so fight to get hold of one. It’s a bush vine white of considerable complexity, with spicy, honeyed flavours, a hint of tangerine and a focused, palate-cleansing, mineral-etched finish. Old vine concentration at its best.

2017 Seven Flags Pinot Noir, Paul Cluver, Elgin – 95 pts
Arguably the most Burgundian of Cape Pinot Noirs, guided by the gentle hand of consultant Martin Prieur, this scented, refined red comes from three sites and is made with clones 113, 115 and 777. Savoury red fruit, bright acidity, filigree tannins and deftly integrated wood.

2017 Finite Elements Pinot Noir, Catherine Marshall Wines, Elgin – 95 pts
The follow up vintage to the maiden 2016 release is another brilliant Pinot, made from two blocks on the Shannon farm. Intense, ferrous and very complex, it’s an ambitious, ageworthy Pinot Noir showing fine tannins, red plum and strawberry fruit, scented oak and impressive palate length.

2017 Hooiwijn, Donkiesbaai, Piekenierskloof – 95 pts
Concrete egg, wood and amphora elements all add to the complexity of this wine, 95% of which comes from high altitude Piekenierskloof. It’s a fresh, elegant, fruit-focused style of Chenin with white pepper and pear tart flavours.

Please note that not all vintages are currently available in the UK.