The South Africa Wine and Spirits Board reject Craig Hawkins Cortez Chenin Blanc 2011 for a second time!

I have written before about how export approval systems in New World wine-producing countries can hinder producers who operate outside the commercial norms (here:

It’s a big problem for natural winemakers. You make a really good wine, have customers abroad clamouring to buy it, and you can’t sell it because a group of conventionally minded winemakers don’t understand the style.

I’ve just heard that Craig Hawkins, the 30 year old winemaker at Lammershoek in the Swartland, and acknowledged to be one of the brightest lights in the South African fine wine scene, has had his 2011 Testalonga Cortez Chenin Blanc rejected for the second time.

This is ludicrous. He has lots of orders in the UK and other countries. It’s a niche wine, priced at such a level that normal consumers aren’t going to stumble across it and wonder what they’ve bought. It is mind-blowingly good: I tried it out of cask in November 2011 and then from bottle in May 2012.

This is the sort of wine that will enhance South Africa’s reputation globally as a country capable of making world class wines. How on earth can this be refused export approval? We need to start petitioning the Wine and Spirits Board.

7 comments to The South Africa Wine and Spirits Board reject Craig Hawkins Cortez Chenin Blanc 2011 for a second time!

  • Kelty

    What was the specific reason for the rejection – was it a tasting panel or an issue with the method of production?

  • John Seccombe

    Too right, Jamie. It just goes to show how the system is being applied with little common sense and greater understanding of these wines’ place in the world. The system protects dull, mediocre wines and penalises producers who are looking to push the boundaries. Ludicrous.

  • James

    To Jamie and John (above)
    Your comments and opinions are VERY one sided. We are all aware that the style of Chenin blanc made by Mr Hawkins is more on the oxidative style…and this is intended. And there is no issue with this. HOWEVER – the role of the panel is to make sure that a Chenin that is truely oxidised due to bad winemaking does not slip through the system and unto the market – something that will really tarnish the image of SA wine industry.
    Therefore I want to state a few ponits:
    1. Mr Hawkins can write a letter and apply for special permission for a re-tasting of his wine.
    2. Mr Hawkins can send his wine uncertified to the UK – seeing that he already has customers.
    3. Perhaps Mr Hawkins (and other like-minded mud-slingers)should consider tasting on the panel and changing the system from within instead of complaining yet changing nothing!
    With all of that said – I do agree that it is time to re-visit the system of approval. And secondly that the wines made by Mr Hawkins are truely unique and indeed very good!

  • Justin Roberts

    Jamie, your link is to WOSA, who apparently have nothing to do with the SA Wine and Spirit board.

  • These kind of restrictive maverick moves may end up tarnishing the whole wine industry of SA. Just saying.

  • This is not unique. In Portugal, Quinta de Sant’Ana make a lovely Pinot Noir in a cool coastal site. The wine is lovely and absolutely typical of the variety. Indeed Jamie has visited here and reviewed the wine with pleasant surprise. It was denied it’s regional appellation status as being atypical (ie not robust, full bodied, deep-coloured), so the producer had to downgrade the wine to lowly Vinho Regional (= Vin de Pays)

  • Mark T

    Have to say it seems fair enough to me that a PN should not be granted denominação de origem, given that it is hardly typical or indeed what customers might expect. Surely if this were not the case, we might as well ditch the whole appellation system?

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>