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“The tasting team rated more than 800 South African wines this year, and it’s fair to say that chenin blanc outperformed all the amazing varieties popping up across the country. In fact, South Africa is turning into a great white wine producer overall, and is perhaps even better with modern chenin blanc than the holy grail for the grape, France’s Loire Valley.

We were lucky this year to visit South Africa and drive around its main wine regions, talk to winemakers, study terroirs and literally taste soils. The country welcomed us with incredible landscapes and diverse wine regions: stunning Constantia, beautiful Stellenbosch and breathtaking Franschhoek. Yet our Top South African wine of 2022 comes from Swartland, like many of the other top-scoring wines on this list. At first look, the extreme conditions of the region would not seem to invite easy wine growing. But the array of successful and open-minded viticulturists found there have their boots firmly planted in the arid and wild land, and the extraordinary terroirs can result in exceptional wines.

No wine reflects this better than our Wine of the Year for South Africa, the David & Nadia Chenin Blanc Swartland Skaliekap Single Vineyard Wine 2021. The owners and winemakers, David and Nadia Sadie, work mainly with old bush vines, organically farmed in various locations throughout Swartland and on different soil types. Their Skaliekap vineyard in Paardeberg sits on shallow shale soils above granite bedrock and has been designated a Certified Heritage Vineyard, with its chenin blanc vines planted in 1985.

The exceptional 2021 Skaliekap has a complex and concentrated character while showing the freshness and elegance of crunchy stone fruit, white tea and citrus peels. It’s also long and silky with a nutty aftertaste. David Sadie said he was aiming to make a wine that exudes textural expression while reflecting its terroir, boosted by precise work with lees and exact ageing. He has achieved that here, with a seriously world-class wine.”