November 4

South Africa’s Award-Winning Wines Take Centre Stage at International Wine Competitions

November 4, 2023

South Africa's award-winning wines have made quite a splash on the global stage, impressing sommeliers all around. Both red and white wines from our country consistently receive international recognition at the most prestigious wine competitions internationally. And, competing against the likes of French and Australian wines, South Africa has earned its place as one of the leading wine producers in the world.

Weinfarm im Kap-Weinland umgeben von Bergen und grünen Weinreben

There are so many of South Africa's award-winning wines to savour

Where There's a Wine, There's a Way 

The world of wine has finesse, authority, and craftsmanship. It's a place where wine producers pour their hearts into the wine, and the drinker will taste the soul.

Since 1994, South African winemakers have shifted their focus from quantity to quality. And the stellar awards achieved since then are a testament to how serious wine enthusiasts are taking South Africa's award-winning wines.

International Wine Challenge

There are a few "celebrities" in South Africa's wine industry who are no strangers to the red carpets, global attention, and trophies at wine awards.

For example, at the 2023 IWC awardsPaul Cluver walked away with no less than three trophies for the Seven Flags Chardonnay 2021, which are the South African White Trophy, the coveted International Chardonnay Trophy, and the IWC Sustainable Trophy 2023.

Taste your way through South Africa's wines

De Grendel, a South African favourite, is no stranger to international attention either. Their Op Die Berg Shiraz 2021 received the South African Shiraz Trophy and South African Red Trophy in 2023. Meanwhile, La Vierge Apogée Pinot Noir 2020 glittered with the South African Pinot Noir Trophy the same year.

Groot Constantia's accolades include their 2019 Sauvignon Blanc being lauded as the best in the world at the 2020 International Wine Challenge and an award previously held by France and New Zealand.

In the same year, Boschendal's Elgin Chardonnay 2018 was listed as one of the Top 30 Best Wines in the World, in addition to winning the South African wine Trophy. DeMorgenzon also walked away with trophies for two wines, namely their Reserve Chenin Blanc and Maestro White.

The International Wine and Spirit Competition

The IWSC is distinguished by their expertise and influence, setting the benchmark for quality. In 2023, 18 South African wines scored 95+ points! These top scorers earned 96 points:

  • La Vierge Apogée Pinot Noir 2019
  • Constantia Glen Five 2020 (a lovely Bordeaux-style red blend) 
  • Bloemendal Wine Estate Kanonberg 2017 (white blend)
A light lunch at SIlvan Safari in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve

Get a taste of South Africa's finest wines at Silvan Safari

IWSC trophies are awarded to outstanding wines and top producers from various regions. In 2022, the following wines took home trophies:

  • Richard Kershaw GPS Series Sauvignon Balnc-Semillon 2020
  • Vrede en Lust Barrique 2019
  • Perdeberg The Vineyard Collection Grenache Blanc 2021
  • Rijk's Cellar Reserve Pinotage 2016

These esteemed awards testify to the outstanding quality of South African wine from various wine regions.

Decanter World Wine Awards

After two decades, the Decanter World Wine Awards is regarded as one of the most influential and respected wine competitions globally.

In 2023, two South African wines received the coveted Best in Show awards. It went to Iona Highlands Chardonnay 2021 from Elgin and Le Riche Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 from Stellenbosch. Out of 18,250 wines judged, only 50 wines in total received this honour.

Vineyards in front of the Simonsberg Mountain in Stellenbosch

In addition, four wine producers received Platinum awards:

  • Bellingham Wines Freda The Founder Series 2022 (white blend)
  • Diemersdal The Journal Sauvignon Blanc 2022
  • Neil Ellis Whitehall Chardonnay 2021
  • Rust en Vrede 1694 Classification 2018 (red blend)

These awards are a testament to the craft and quality of South African red and white wines from various regions, each with its unique terroir.

Concours Mondial de Bruxelles

CMB aims to identify the best wines that offer outstanding quality to consumers so that they can choose award-winning wines with complete confidence.

At the 2023 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles awards, three South African wines walked away with prestigious Grand Gold Medals, recognising superb artistry and craft in winemaking:

  • Cederberg Cellars Five Generations Cabernet Sauvignon 2020
  • Kleine Zalze Vinyeard Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2020
  • Pongrácz Desiderius Brut (NV)
Older woman enjoying wine at Ellerman House

There's something for everyone to sip on in Africa, Image Credit: Ellerman House

This is in addition to 29 other wines achieving gold the same year for renowned producers like Durbanville Hills, Spier, La Motte, Quion Rock, and Nederburg, among others.

Tim Atkin Special Report

In his 2023 Special Report on South African wine, Tim Atkin MW rated 201 wines with 95+ points and stated that "South Africa is making the best wines in its history".

Top scorers in this report include Boschkloof Epilogue 2021, which scored a remarkable and memorable 100 points and was crowned as the Overall Red Wine of the Year! Likewise, Alheit Vineyards Huilkrans 2022 earned the title of White Wine of the Year.

Sadie Columella 2020 held the Red Wine of the Year in 2022, while Boekenhoutskloof Semillon 2020 was lauded as White Wine of the Year. Tim Atkin noted that he was "extremely impressed by the quality of what [he] tasted".

South African wine producers have reached stellar achievements at the most impressive international wine awards in recent years. Masters of Wine have high praises for the unique personality of South African wines, thanks to the country's diverse terroirs.

The beautiful Franschhoek Valley has plenty of wine farms to explore

Visit South Africa’s Wine Routes

As experts on luxury African travel, there's no doubt that we know a thing or two when it comes to the luxury of premium award-winning wines, both locally and internationally. 

South Africa boasts of numerous wine routes in the Western Cape, Northern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal, each with their own sub-regions, micro-climates, and unique terroirs, all adding personality to its wines. 

Reach out to our Travel Experts today to help you plan your trip of a lifetime!

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About the author 

Hanli Matthee

After her studies, Hanli decided to call Cape Town home and enjoys that every corner is Instagram-worthy, combining mountains, ocean and city. When she's not living it up in Cape Town's nature, she likes escaping to Central Drakensberg, where she's been going for her family vacations for over 20 years now. It's her happy place, where she feels enveloped by valleys and high-rising giants and secretly hopes she'd get lost here where no one will find her...

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