Competition Matters | DWWA, Points and Medals

Writing on in 2014, Robert Joseph, has this fantastic introductory line to his piece What’s the point of wine competitions?:

“Wine competitions are the worst way to identify the world’s best wines.”

It’s a sentiment we hear at SAWi from time to time – although far less often now than a few years ago. Joseph goes on to apologise to Churchill before concluding his introduction by pointing out that competitions “actually work better than the alternatives.” We have to agree; but when determining SAWi scores we also consider key listings, reviews and comments from the world’s leading wine authorities.

The SAWi ‘Algorithm of Excellence’ distills the collective wisdom of a multitude of authoritative wine competitions, reviews and listings into a single point score which is consistent and drowns out much of the subjective noise of various judging panels.

One of the competitions we include is the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA).

Together with the many entrants, we’ll be keeping an eye on the DWWA 2017 Timeline, so that we can feed the results into our SAWi algorithm ahead of the 2017 Grand Wines Collection update, as well as the 2018 SAWi Wine Excellence Awards.

According to the DWWA site, “DWWA has judges from around the world, including Masters of Wine and Master Sommeliers, and many of them are the foremost experts in their field. Judging is organised into categories, initially based on region. For example, Champagne will be judged by a panel of Champagne experts.

The judges taste wines individually. They know the region, style and price bracket, but they don’t know who produced the wine or the brand name. They then compare notes on the wine and reach a consensus on each wine’s medal.

Medal categories correspond to the 100-point scoring system used by Decanter and many top wine critics around the world.”

SAWi also represents wine performance as a value out of 100, but the SAWi Index value is a unity-based normalised score that uses raw data comprised of the wine’s average score over a 10-year period, as well as additional points for consistent top performance and any additional accolades achieved.

As will be appreciated by the DWWA description above, the competition process is rigorous, and a wine that walks away with DWWA Gold Medal can truly claim to be exceptional. More so if it then receives a Platinum Medal or is crowned ‘Best in Show’.

For this reason, the Decanter World Wine Awards and its additional medal accolades carry SAWi’s full endorsement and make a sizeable impact on the SAWi wine rating methodology.

All the best to the many worthwhile South African candidates who will submit their wines over the upcoming months. We look forward to celebrating your success with you.

The South African Grand Wines Collection – Update November 2016

The South African Wine Index is proud to present a biannual update to the first SAWi South African Wine Ranking List, previously published in June 2016. The South African Wine Ranking List identifies South Africa’s top performing wines using the SAWi multi-vintage ‘Algorithm of Excellence’, and these top wines are presented as a collective referred to as the South African Grand Wines Collection (GWC).

SAWi’s unique ‘Algorithm of Excellence’ is applied to measure the performance of individual wines across a minimum of three vintages, and compares and condenses the results from more than 100 multinational competitions, ratings, reviews and listings (acknowledging the nature of the competitions and any additional accolades bestowed on the wine) over a rolling period of ten years, and expresses this as a single value out of 100. The Grand Wines Collection only features wines that achieve 93 or more index points.

As the ranking process considers a wine’s performance over a relatively long period, whole-scale changes to the South African Wine Ranking List are never expected, particularly when considering the top performing wines. This update does, however, highlight considerable movement within certain cultivar or wine style categories, and several newly ranked wines have entered the Grand Wines Collection.

Highlights of the latest update include:
• Tremendous overall movement within the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir categories, with a 54% increase in the number of wines that qualify for inclusion;
• Noticeable overall movement within White Blends (+50%), Bordeaux Blends, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinotage categories (+44%), followed by Rhone Blends (+34%);
• Some 40 wines, previously scoring just below 93 index points, have joined the GWC and two wines have fallen off the list;
• 57 new wines stand poised to join the GWC;
• There were no additions to the Viognier and MCC categories, and very few to the Semillon, Red Blends, Merlot, Cape Blends, Dessert/Fortified Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc categories;
• The Shiraz category is the biggest with 87 ranked wines, followed by Bordeaux Blends, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinotage and Chenin Blanc, respectively;
• The Rhone Blends, Red Blends and Sauvignon Blanc categories exhibited the greatest movement within the Top Ten and Top Five subsets.

This ranking update lends weight to the reputations of the mainstay of the South African wine industry, but it also highlights that things are changing. The strong standing in the industry of some leading cultivars of the past seems to have become relatively tenuous and the sheer number of consistently excelling wines suggests that there are no longer any single pinnacle varieties.

With the SAWi indexing process recognised as the ultimate quality benchmark for South African wines, the South African Wine Ranking List represents the best wines in this country.

Visit for more information and the full Grand Wines Collection list.

Franschhoek Uncorked 2016

Franschhoek hosts the Franschhoek Uncorked festival on 24 and 25 September and a number of the 18 participating wineries have wines listed in the SAWi Grand Wines Collection.

The 18 wineries (as listed on the official Franschhoek Uncorked Festival programme) and their respective GWC wines, where relevant are:
1. Noble Hill
2. Plaisir de Merle
3. Allée Bleue – Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, Chenin Blanc, Pinotage, Shiraz
4. Boschendal – Reserve Syrah, MCC Brut, Reserve Collection Sauvignon Blanc
5. Anthonij Rupert Wyne
6. Lynx Wines – Shiraz, Viognier
7. Topiary Wines & La Chataigne
8. Maison Estate
9. Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards
10. GlenWood – Vigneron’s Selection Chardonnay
11. Rickety Bridge – Foundation Stone Red, Paulina’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
12. Grande Provence – Chardonnay, The Grand Provence Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon
13. Mont Rochelle
14. Black Elephant Vintners
15. Dieu Donné – Cabernet Sauvignon
16. Haute Cabrière
17. La Bri
18. Boekenhoutskloof – Chocolate Block, Cabernet Sauvignon Franschhoek, Semillon Franschhoek, Syrah (Coastal region), Syrah Franschhoek

While we’re not suggesting that the wineries with GWC wines will have those wines available for tasting as part of the festival programme, we are sure you’ll get a sense of why they’ve managed to achieve at a consistently high level to earn a place on the list, should you visit them.

Feel free to share your weekend experience(s) of the Franschhoek GWC producers via a comment to this post.

2016 SAWi Wine Excellence Awards

The South African Wine Index (SAWi) was established in 2009 with the aim of independently identifying South Africa’s best wines. SAWi’s hope was that the collection of these best wines, or ‘South African Grand Wines’ (see Part 2), would then allow for the international promotion of the South African wine industry as a producer of high-quality wines, in contrast to its reputation at the time as a producer of cheap bulk wine.

SAWi’s unique ‘Algorithm of Excellence’ is applied to measure the performance of individual wines, across multiple vintages, and compares and condenses the results from more than 100 multinational competitions, reviews and listings, acknowledging the nature of the competition and any additional accolades bestowed on a wine, and expresses this as a single value out of 100.

Through the ongoing indexing process, it is now easy to distinguish top performing producers, and which of their wines are consistently accepted as exceptional. In addition to making the international promotion of the best South African wines possible, the Index offers consumers an opportunity to make a reliable decision about which wines to buy – without being subject to the necessary vagaries of annual wine competitions, or a vintage-specific performance.

SAWi sets two aspirational benchmarks against which to measure wine quality: Grand Gold status, which is awarded to wines that score more than 93 Index points, and Platinum status, for wines which score above 95. Together, these sets comprise the ‘South African Grand Wines Collection’.

Sourced from 585 wineries or more than 6000 wines, the ‘Grand Wines Collection’ currently includes 494 wines and only 203 wines, representing 66 wineries, have achieved Platinum status.

While SAWi indexes all South African wines as a matter of routine, SAWi members are invited to attend the annual SA Wine Index ‘Wine Excellence Awards’ at which their performance in particular is acknowledged.

The 2016 SAWi ‘Wine Excellence Awards’ were hosted, again, by Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, who accommodated guests in a number of luxurious rooms on the Grootbos property and in nearby De Kelders and Stanford.

Grootbos regularly tops various international travel lists as South Africa’s leading 5-star family friendly leisure destination for the environmentally and socially conscious. SAWi is proud to be associated with Grootbos, the home of the South African Wine Index Awards and most of SAWi’s top performing wines.

SAWi is pleased to be supported by Union Pay International and the SAWi ‘Algorithm of Excellence’ is endorsed by PKF Chartered Accountants.

2016 ‘Wine Excellence Awards’ Multi-year Highlights
This year, KWV took the most honours with 11 awards, followed by Cederberg’s and Spier’s 8, Saronsberg 7, while Bouchard Finlayson, Paul Cluver and Diemersdal received 6 awards each. As with a golf or tennis rating system, having received the most accolades does not necessarily imply a number 1 ranking position, but such performances take these wineries close to being coveted trophy winners.

See the full list of 2016 SAWi Wine Excellence Award winners here.

Comments on Achievements
Cultivars: At the seventh annual SAWi awards, Bordeaux Blend achievements dominated, scooping 32 accolades in total, just ahead of Shiraz with 30 acknowledgements, followed by Sauvignon Blanc with 27.

Chenin Blanc followed with 26, Chardonnay (which dominated in 2014) and MCCs with 23, Cabernet Sauvignon 21, Pinotage 18, White Wine Blends 13, Pinot Noir and Rhone Blends with 6, and other Red Blends with 4. In comparison with previous years, there were many more accolades for Brandies and Cape Ports.

Regions: Hemel-en-Aarde Valley dominated with 34 high-end accolades, with Paarl alongside (mainly due to the KWV’s contribution). These were followed by Constantia, Franschhoek and Tulbach on 23 each, Somerset Helderberg and Stellenbosch Central Wineries on 16 each, Elgin, Stellenbosch Kloof, Stellenbosch West, Stellenbosch Simonsberg and Blaauwklippen on 9 each, and Robertson with 7.

For the 2016 SAWi members’ Platinum and Grand Gold Recipients list, click here: 2016 SAWi Platinum and Grand Gold Recipients

2016 SAWi Platinum and Grand Gold Recipients

SAWi member Platinum (P) & Grand Gold (GG) Recipients

98.9 P Aaldering Vineyards & Wines Pinotage
97.2 P Aaldering Vineyards & Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot
93.7 GG Aaldering Vineyards & Wines Sauvignon Blanc
94.6 GG Allee Bleue Wines Chenin Blanc
94.0 GG Allee Bleue Wines Pinotage
93.2 GG Allee Bleue Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot
93.1 GG Allee Bleue Wines Shiraz
93.7 GG Alto Wine Estate Shiraz
93.8 GG Alto Wine Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
96.4 P Bellingham The Bernard Series Basket Press Shiraz
94.3 GG Bellingham The Bernard Series Small Barrel Shiraz Mourvedre Viognier
93.2 GG Bellingham The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc
95.8 P Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage
93.0 GG Beyerskloof Pinotage Reserve
95.8 P Boland Cellar Reserve Pinotage
95.7 P Boland Cellar Reserve Shiraz
94.2 GG Boland Cellar Reserve Chenin Blanc
93.6 GG Boland Cellar Reserve Merlot
93.2 GG Boland Cellar Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
99.7 P Boplaas Family Vineyards Cape Tawny Port
99.1 P Boplaas Family Vineyards Cape Vintage Reserve Port
94.7 GG Boplaas Family Vineyards Cape Tawny Vintners Reserve Port
93.3 GG Boplaas Family Vineyards Cape Vintage Port
95.0 P Boschendal Wines Reserve Shiraz
93.0 GG Boschendal Wines 1685 Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon
100.0 P Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak Pinot Noir
100.0 P Bouchard Finlayson Tete de Cuvee Galpin Peak Pinot Noir
100.0 P Bouchard Finlayson Hannibal Sangiovese Pinot Shiraz Mourvedre Nebiolo Barbera
95.3 P Bouchard Finlayson Kaaimansgat Crocodile’s Lair Chardonnay
93.1 GG Bouchard Finlayson Reserve Sauvignon Blanc
93.1 GG Bouchard Finlayson Missionvale Chardonnay
99.0 P Cape Chamonix Wine Farm Chardonnay Reserve
98.3 P Cape Chamonix Wine Farm Cape Chamonix Wine Farm Pinot Noir Reserve
99.8 P Cederberg Private Cellar Sauvignon Blanc
99.6 P Cederberg Private Cellar Shiraz
98.7 P Cederberg Private Cellar David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner Semillon
97.7 P Cederberg Private Cellar David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner Sauvignon Blanc
95.3 P Cederberg Private Cellar Teen Die Hoog Shiraz
94.4 GG Cederberg Private Cellar Chenin Blanc
94.4 GG Cederberg Private Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon
93.3 GG Cederberg Private Cellar Five Generations Cabernet Sauvignon
97.0 P Constantia Glen Sauvignon Blanc
96.8 P Constantia Glen Five Merlot Cabernet Malbec Cab Franc Petit Verdot
95.9 P Constantia Glen Two Sauvignon Blanc Semillon
95.8 P Constantia Glen Three Cabernet Sauvignon Cab Franc Merlot
99.3 P Creation Wines Reserve Pinot Noir
95.9 P Creation Wines Syrah Grenache
95.4 P Creation Wines Pinot Noir
94.3 GG Creation Wines Merlot
94.2 GG Creation Wines Viognier
94.1 GG Creation Wines Chardonnay
94.0 GG Creation Wines Syrah
97.7 P De Krans Vintage Reserve Port
96.9 P De Krans Cape Tawny Port
94.7 GG De Krans Touriga Nacional
100.0 P De Toren Private Cellar Fusion V Cabernet Cab Franc Petit Verdot Merlot Malbec
96.2 P De Toren Private Cellar Z Merlot Cabernet Cab Franc Malbec Petit Verdot
95.2 P De Trafford Wines De Trafford Wines
95.0 P De Trafford Wines Blueprint Shiraz
93.8 GG De Trafford Wines Straw Wine
93.6 GG De Trafford Wines Cabernet Sauvignon
93.3 GG De Trafford Wines De Trafford Wines Elevation 393 Cab Sauv Merlot Shiraz Cab Franc
100.0 P DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc
96.0 P DeMorgenzon Maestro Chenin Chardonnay Roussanne Viognier
97.2 P Diemersdal Estate Pinotage Reserve
95.1 P Diemersdal Estate Sauvignon Blanc Reserve
94.3 GG Diemersdal Estate Pinotage
94.1 GG Diemersdal Estate Private Collection Cabernet Sauv Merlot Cab Franc Malbec
94.1 GG Diemersdal Estate MM Louw Sauvignon Blanc
93.4 GG Diemersdal Estate 8 Rows Sauvignon Blanc
97.2 P Doolhof Wine Estate Signatures of Doolhof Pinotage
95.5 P Doolhof Wine Estate Signatures of Doolhof Malbec
100.0 P Eagles Nest Shiraz
96.6 P Eagles Nest Viognier
93.1 GG Eagles Nest Merlot
94.2 GG Edgebaston GS Cabernet Sauvignon
98.8 P Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest
94.0 GG Fleur du Cap Bergkelder Selection Laszlo Cabernet Sauv Merlot Cab Franc Shiraz
93.8 GG Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Semillon
93.8 GG Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon
93.3 GG Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Limited Release Sauvignon Blanc
93.7 GG Flight of the Fish Eagle Naturally Supreme Brandy
93.0 GG Franschhoek Cellar Statue de Femme Sauvignon Blanc
94.3 GG Graham Beck Wines Brut Sparkling Wine Mèthode Cap Classique NV
93.7 GG Graham Beck Wines Blanc de Blanc Sparkling Wine Mèthode Cap Classique Brut
93.5 GG Graham Beck Wines Rosé Sparkling Wine Mèthode Cap Classique NV
100.0 P Groot Constantia Estate Chardonnay
100.0 P Groot Constantia Estate Shiraz
97.9 P Groot Constantia Estate Gouverneurs Reserve Red Cab Sauv Merlot Cab Franc
97.8 P Groot Constantia Estate Sauvignon Blanc
97.3 P Groot Constantia Estate Pinotage
96.6 P Groot Constantia Estate Grand Constance Muscat
94.4 GG Groot Constantia Estate Reserve White Semillon Blend Semillon Sauvignon Blanc
100.0 P Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay
100.0 P Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot Noir
100.0 P Jordan Wine Estate Nine Yards Chardonnay
97.7 P Jordan Wine Estate The Real McCoy Riesling
97.1 P Jordan Wine Estate Cobblers Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc Merlot
96.1 P Jordan Wine Estate Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc
95.9 P Jordan Wine Estate Barrel Fermented Chardonnay
93.2 GG Jordan Wine Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
95.4 P Joubert Tradauw Wingerde en Kelder Barrel Fermented Chardonnay
93.0 GG Joubert Tradauw Wingerde en Kelder Syrah
99.2 P Kanonkop Estate Pinotage
99.1 P Kanonkop Estate Paul Sauer Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc Merlot
100.0 P Ken Forrester Wines The FMC Chenin Blanc
95.6 P Ken Forrester Wines The Gypsy Shiraz Grenache
95.0 P Ken Forrester Wines Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc
93.3 GG Ken Forrester Wines Icon Range T Noble Late Harvest
100.0 P Klein Constantia Estate Vin de Constance
95.1 P Klein Constantia Estate Rhine Riesling
93.8 GG Klein Constantia Estate KC Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot
93.1 GG Klein Constantia Estate Marlbrook Cabernet Sauv Merlot Cab Franc Malbec
93.0 GG Klein Constantia Estate Perdeblokke Sauvignon Blanc
100.0 P Kleine Zalze Wines Family Reserve Sauvignon Blanc
98.0 P Kleine Zalze Wines Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
97.1 P Kleine Zalze Wines Family Reserve Shiraz
96.8 P Kleine Zalze Wines Family Reserve Chenin Blanc
95.6 P Kleine Zalze Wines Vineyard Selection Barrel Fermented Chardonnay
93.1 GG Kleine Zalze Wines Vineyard Selection Barrel Matured Cabernet Sauvignon
95.8 P Klipdrift Gold Finest Old Matured Brandy
98.0 P KWV Brandy 20 YO Brandy
96.6 P KWV Brandy 15 YO Brandy
95.1 P KWV Brandy 10 YO Brandy
94.0 GG KWV Brandy 12 YO Brandy
99.7 P KWV Mentors Chardonnay
97.1 P KWV Mentors Shiraz
96.7 P KWV Mentors Semillon
95.9 P KWV Mentors Orchestra Cabernet Sauv Malbec Merlot Cab Franc Shiraz
94.8 GG KWV Mentors Canvas Shiraz Grenache Cinsault Tempranillo
94.5 GG KWV Mentors Sauvignon Blanc
94.3 GG KWV Mentors Pinotage
94.2 GG KWV Mentors Petit Verdot
93.3 GG KWV Mentors Grenache Blanc
93.2 GG KWV Mentors Chenin Blanc
96.3 P KWV Classic Collection Cape Tawny Port
94.5 GG KWV Vintage White Jerepigo
94.1 GG KWV Abraham Perold Tributum Cape Blend
100.0 P La Motte Pierneef Shiraz Viognier
97.4 P La Motte Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc
94.2 GG La Motte Shiraz
94.1 GG La Motte Cabernet Sauvignon
93.6 GG La Motte Chardonnay
93.3 GG La Motte Sparkling Wine Mèthode Cap Classique
98.5 P Laborie Wine Farm Alambic Brandy
93.6 GG Laborie Wine Farm Blanc de Blanc Sparkling Wine Mèthode Cap Classique Brut
97.4 P Le Riche Wines Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
93.3 GG Le Riche Wines Cabernet Sauvignon
94.3 GG Lomond Sugarbush Sauvignon Blanc
93.7 GG Lomond Cat’s Tail Syrah
93.3 GG Lomond Snowbush Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Nouvelle
93.3 GG Lomond Pincushion Sauvignon Blanc
98.9 P Mvemve Raats de Compostella Bordeaux Blend
95.3 P Mvemve Raats Gewürztraminer
93.2 GG Neethlingshof Estate Maria Weisser Riesling Noble Late Harvest
99.8 P Neethlingshof Estate Chardonnay
98.2 P Oak Valley Wines Pinot Noir
94.7 GG Oak Valley Wines Syrah
93.3 GG Oldenburg Vineyards Chenin Blanc
93.3 GG Oldenburg Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
95.9 P Oldenburg Vineyards 18 YO Sovereign Brandy
94.6 GG Oude Meester Brandy Reserve 12 YO Brandy
100.0 P Oude Meester Brandy Chardonnay
96.3 P Paul Cluver Estate Wines Riesling Noble Late Harvest
96.0 P Paul Cluver Estate Wines Sauvignon Blanc
95.8 P Paul Cluver Estate Wines Gewürztraminer
95.3 P Paul Cluver Estate Wines Riesling
95.3 P Paul Cluver Estate Wines Seven Flags Pinot Noir
93.1 GG Paul Cluver Estate Wines Pinot Noir
95.7 P Paul Cluver Estate Wines The Dry Land Collection Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc
95.3 P Perdeberg Winery SAAM Mountain Middelberg Chenin Blanc
93.6 GG Perdeberg Winery Chenin Blanc Reserve
93.0 GG Perdeberg Winery Rex Equus Cabernet Sauvignon
95.7 P Pongrảcz Desiderius Pinot Noir Chardonnay
93.1 GG Pongrảcz Rosé Sparkling Wine Mèthode Cap Classique
94.9 GG Raats Family Wines Original Chenin Blanc
93.5 GG Raats Family Wines Old Vine Chenin
93.4 GG Raats Family Wines Cab Franc
95.6 P Raka Biography Shiraz
100.0 P Rijks Private Cellar Pinotage
95.9 P Rijks Private Cellar Reserve Chenin Blanc
94.6 GG Rijks Private Cellar Shiraz
100.0 P Rustenberg Wines John X Merriman Cab Sauvignon Merlot Cab Franc
98.2 P Rustenberg Wines Peter Barlow Cabernet Sauvignon
97.3 P Rustenberg Wines Five Soldiers Chardonnay
96.9 P Rustenberg Wines Stellenbosch Chardonnay
95.8 P Rustenberg Wines Buzzard Kloof Shiraz
93.3 GG Rustenberg Wines Straw Wine
100.0 P Saronsberg Full Circle Shiraz Mourvedre Viognier
100.0 P Saronsberg Shiraz
98.6 P Saronsberg Provenance Range Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Malbec Petit Verdot
96.4 P Saronsberg Provenance Range Shiraz
94.0 GG Saronsberg Viognier
93.2 GG Saronsberg Brut Sparkling Wine Mèthode Cap Classique
95.2 P Saxenburg Wine Farm Private Collection Cabernet Sauvignon
94.1 GG Saxenburg Wine Farm Private Collection Merlot
93.8 GG Saxenburg Wine Farm Limited Release Select Shiraz
93.0 GG Saxenburg Wine Farm Private Collection Shiraz
96.1 P Sijnn Red Blend Syrah Touriga Nacional Mourvedre Trincadeira Cabernet Sauv
95.1 P Sijnn White Malagas Chenin Blanc Viognier Roussanne
94.4 GG Sijnn Syrah Malgas
93.3 GG Sijnn Touriga Nacional
98.5 P Spier Creative Block 3 Selection Rhone Blend Shiraz Mourvedre Viognier
95.8 P Spier Creative Block 2 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon
95.1 P Spier 21 Gables Pinotage
95.0 GG Spier Private Collection Shiraz
94.6 GG Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc
94.6 GG Spier Private Collection Chardonnay
94.4 GG Spier Frans K Smit Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Shiraz
94.1 GG Spier Private Collection Chenin Blanc
93.6 GG Spier Private Collection Pinotage
99.1 P Stellenrust Chenin Blanc Barrel Fermented
94.3 GG Stellenzicht Vineyards Golden Triangle Shiraz
93.0 GG Stellenzicht Vineyards Golden Triangle Cabernet Sauvignon
97.9 P Sumaridge Wines Pinot Noir
95.1 P Sumaridge Wines Chardonnay
93.9 GG Sumaridge Wines Sauvignon Blanc
93.2 GG Sumaridge Wines Maritimus Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay Semillon
94.5 GG The High Road Directors Reserve Cabernet Merlot Cab Franc
93.3 GG The High Road Classique Cabernet Merlot Cab Franc
98.5 P Van Ryn’s Brandy 12 YO Distiller’s Reserve Brandy
98.3 P Van Ryn’s Brandy 15 YO Fine Cask Old Brandy
97.2 P Van Ryn’s Brandy 20 YO Collector’s Reserve Brandy
94.3 GG Van Ryn’s Brandy 10 Year Old Vintage Brandy
95.4 P Viljoensdrift Wines River Grandeur Pinotage
93.1 GG Viljoensdrift Wines River Grandeur Shiraz
95.7 P Villiera Wines Monro Sparkling Wine Mèthode Cap Classique Brut
95.5 P Villiera Wines Traditional Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc
94.6 GG Villiera Wines Monro Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc
94.0 GG Villiera Wines Chenin Blanc
93.5 GG Villiera Wines Traditional Bush Vine Sauvignon Blanc
100.0 P Wildekrans Wine Estate Pinotage Barrel Select Reserve
96.8 P Wildekrans Wine Estate Chenin Blanc Barrel Select
96.0 P Wildekrans Wine Estate Shiraz Barrel Select Reserve
95.4 P Wildekrans Wine Estate Cape Blend Barrel Select Reserve
94.9 GG Wildekrans Wine Estate Chenin Blanc Sparkling Wine Mèthode Cap Classique

The Grand Wines Collection

The South African Wine Index (SAWi) was established with the aim of setting a quality benchmark for South African Wines. The value of SAWi’s multi-year wine performance adjudication process has earned it official recognition as a definitive measure of a given wine’s quality, irrespective of vintage.

Until the introduction of the Index, the quality adjudication of wine depended on annual events, which by their nature present the once-off and subjective opinions of the adjudicators. This not only makes it difficult to track a wine’s performance over time but, more importantly, it prevents meaningful empirical deductions from being made.

SAWi is proud to present the South African ‘Grand Wines Collection’. The GWC represents a little less than 500 of the 6000 South African wines currently available that have consistently achieved the highest acknowledgement from various wine judging panels and respected wine commentators, all over the world. Each ranked wine in the list below has scored a minimum of 93 Index points. As a collective, the GWC sets a unique benchmark for South African wine quality.

See the Grand Wines Collection here.

All SAWi scores and the NWN ranking are determined using SAWi’s unique ‘Algorithm of Excellence’ (AOE). While the utmost care is taken in the preparation of these scores, errors and omissions are possible. Producers are encouraged to inform SAWi of competition and other results at year end.

Competition Matters | Faster than Usain Bolt

My 8-year-old son is convinced that his best friend’s older brother is the second fastest man alive, after Usain Bolt. That said brother is 12, and runs a 100-metre sprint in just about enough time to allow Bolt to win his race, sign autographs and complete a press conference, is beside the point; to one adoring fan it’s only a matter of time before I hear the words “He’s faster than Usain Bolt!” and there’s a new champion atop the winner’s podium.

Until then, Usain Bolt has proved that he’s worthy of his place as the top-ranked 100-metre sprinter in the world – that despite recording only the 8th fastest time this year (tied with South African, Wayde van Niekerk, 2 places below another South African, Akani Simbine), and with everything to prove at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

“But we don’t do competitions,” was a common cry some years ago, when I asked a handful of producers about their international status – partly for some background work I was doing for an article in a local publication, and partly to interrogate the validity of the SA Wine Index, to which I had just been introduced.

The truth is every producer that puts a bottle on the table – whether mine or anyone else’s – is “doing competition”. Should the wine not be as good as that of ‘the competition’, the second bottle on the table will bear a different producer’s mark.

With social media being what it is, and the ready access we have to many sources of commentary about practically every wine sold and consumed at present (with ratings from stars to thumbs to glasses, or points out of 5 or 20 or 100) no-one can claim that they are above, or outside of, the competition circuit. They may not compete formally; but compete they do.

The SA Wine Index is unique in that it considers the multi-vintage performance of every South African wine across more than 100 national and international competitions, ratings, listings and reviews. The majority of these are listed on the website, and any new and noteworthy platform that serves to make a statement about a wine’s performance or value is considered by the Index.

The Index aggregates the wine’s various multi-vintage performances, using a complex but not complicated algorithm that weights the various competitions and rewards best in class performances as well as consistency over a rolling 10-year window. The result is a single point score that definitively separates the athletes from the older brothers, and which provides a reliable measure of the true class of the wine.

And while The Olympic Games stands ahead of other competitions when it comes to any self-respecting athlete proving his or her worth, it’s not the only measure. Rather, while coveting an Olympic medal, athletes look to the IAAF rankings to properly indicate where they stand. In the same way, the SA Wine Index leads the wine world in its ability to definitively identify South Africa’s finest wines.

The 2016 SAWi Awards take place on 18 June 2016, when the South African Wine Index celebrates the exceptional performances of the county’s finest wines, and releases the South African ‘Grand Wines Collection’ ranking of South Africa’s top performing wines

@SAWineIndex | 2016 SAWi Wine Excellence Awards | 18 June 2016 | Grootbos Private Nature Reserve | @Grootbos

SA’s best MCC? Mum’s the word, for now…

On 18 June 2016, the 2016 SAWi Wine Excellence Awards, at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, will reveal which are South Africa’s consistently best performing MMCs.

Writing for BDLive, 6 May, Sue Blain quotes, among others, Peter Short, wine manager at Norman Goodfellows in Illovo, Johannesburg. According to Short there are “around 80 different French Champagne brands in the Norman Goodfellows stock range, and around 100 MCC or SA sparking wines”. Of the local bubblies, 20-odd have achieved a SAWi rating of 93+, allowing them to bear the coveted SAWi ‘Grand Wines Collection‘ label. In a first of its kind, and in the Methode Cap Classique sector, this full list will be unveiled on 18 June.

@SAWineIndex | 2016 SAWi Wine Excellence Awards | 18 June 2016 | Grootbos Private Nature Reserve | @Grootbos

Terroir: Terrible or Terrific?

The SA Wine Index has, for many years, supported the notion that South African terroir is both a legitimate concept and significant in the production of consistently noteworthy South African wines.

While some will pooh-pooh the very notion of terroir, we were pleased to see that James Lawrence, writing recently on, doesn’t. His article headline “South African Wine’s U-Turn on Terroir” is rather wishful, but we hope it’s prophetic, nonetheless.

Photo by Dominic Morel

The soon-to-be-released SA Wine Index 2016 results will make interesting reading for those into terroir. For the first time ever, SAWi will release the full list of South African wines to achieve SAWi Grand Wine status – an accolade bestowed on wines that have achieved an Index score of 93+, when considering non-vintage specific performance over at least three vintages, in more than 100 local and international competitions, ratings and reviews.

The list itself is sure to generate much interest, but it’s the underlying performance of certain styles and cultivars in certain regions that will get the aficionados reaching for their notebooks.

Don’t miss the breaking news on 18 June 2016; follow us and the awards hosts, Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, on Twitter, or like SAWineIndex on FaceBook to stay up to date.

@SAWineIndex | 2016 SAWi Wine Excellence Awards | 18 June 2016 | Grootbos Private Nature Reserve | @Grootbos

No Colour-blind Tongue

The soon-to-be-released SA Wine Index 2016 results will show, for the next year at least, that while the Rainbow Nation is keen to move past issues of colour, wine judges the world over certainly can’t hide their collective South African wine colour preference.

There can be only one most highly ranked wine, and given SAWi’s multi-national, multi-vintage index mechanism, that now includes more than 100 local and international competitions, ratings and reviews, only SAWi can definitively say which wine that is. More importantly, only SAWi can say which South African wines perform consistently well, time and time again.

Want to know which colour is best? The 2016 SAWi Wine Excellence Awards take place at the acclaimed Grootbos Private Nature Reserve on 18 June 2016; stay close to Twitter for all the results. @SAWineIndex @Grootbos