Judging Chenin Blanc in South Africa

chenin blanc south africa

Judging Chenin Blanc in South Africa

Photo: Bettina Botha
Photo: Bettina Botha

Three days. Seven judges. 145 South African Chenin Blancs.

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It was the second year of the new look Standard Bank Top 10 Chenin Blanc Challenge, and I had been invited back to be the overseas judge again. So I spent an enjoyable time at Longridge Estate, where the judging took place, poring over glasses of this, the flagship grape variety of South Africa.

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Chenin Blanc is a versatile variety and produces lots of different styles. This means that judging is a little complicated, because you don’t just want to reward the ripest, richest wines, but recognize the best independent of style.

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The judging panel was a good one, and it was a real pleasure to taste with them. To judge wine well you need to be a team player, because there will always be differences of opinion, even among experienced judges. Ego has to be set aside and consensus has to be reached, and the team worked really well. We spent two days tasting all the wines, and then selected 39 of them for the final.

Bettina Botha and Ina Smith
Bettina Botha and Ina Smith

Fortunately, after averaging our scores in the final, 10 wines scored 16.5 or higher and these were our top 10.

judging chenin

I really like Chenin and I’m so looking forward to finding out the identity of the 10 we chose. The results are released on August 28th. Here’s my report from last year’s event, including the final result and all my own scores.

Photo: Bettina Botha
Photo: Bettina Botha
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