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These are South Africa’s finest luxury white wines

Wine Cellar tasters have determined SA’s luxury pick of the crop.

74 tasters assembled in Cape Town and Johannesburg as Wine Cellar – fine wine merchants hosted their second luxury white taste-off. Ten of SA’s most expensive and luxurious wines were blind-tasted and the public tasters ranked these in order of their favourite to least favourite wines.

The order of the wines was random and tasters were unaware of the line-up. The results from Johannesburg were combined with those from Cape Town and the live announcement was made to tasters in both cities over Skype as well as on social media.

Once every two years, the unique opportunity arises to not only take part in, but play a deciding role in determining SA’s top luxury wines from a selection of ten of the country’s finest at each event, priced at up to R2000 a bottle. Wine Cellar – Fine wine merchants and expert palates Roland Peens and James Pietersen once again hosted the sought-after premium white wine tasting event in both Johannesburg and Cape Town on the 7th of March to define what really makes a luxury wine.

The luxury red wine tasting will take place on the 18th of April in the same format. We chatted to Roland Peens, Director of Wine Cellar – Fine wine merchants about this year’s pick of the luxury white wine crop.

The luxury white wine tasting line-up:

Three years ago, Ken Forrestor’s FMC 2012 stole the show as SA’s top luxury white. Hosting big names such as Vergelegen, Hamilton Russell, Jordan and Alheit Vineyards, the old-vine Chenin Blanc was the overwhelming winner. The average price of the wines in 2015 was R 465 per bottle.

In 2018, the average price of the line-up jumped to a whopping R 754 per bottle and most of the names from the 2015 tasting were now considered ‘too affordable’. The tasting hosted new labels such as Leeu Passant, DelaireGraaff and Spier, all of which have released highly priced and luxurious new wines. All of SA’s most expensive wines were listed except for a few small cuvées, rare wines that Wine Cellar felt were not positioned as luxurious. This included the likes of the Sadie Family’s 800-bottle cuvéeMev. Kirsten and Richard Kershaw’s CY96 Chardonnay.

The results:

As expected, the two richest wines in the line-up, containing the largest components of new oak, were the two most-favoured wines. The FMC has residual sugar of 8g/l which was by far the highest in the tasting.

Surprisingly, three more elegant wines from Paul Cluver, Sadie Family and Uva Mira rounded out the top 5. The Paul Cluver wine showed fine Burgundian-like elegance and the Sadie Family wines, along with the FMC, were the only wines that have been produced for longer than 10 years.

The last four wines were arguably the lightest and most delicate wines. They showed the most savoury components and the least fruit. While all are highly regarded, perhaps they would have performed better on their own or with more time in the glass.

Similar numbers of tasters were present in each city, with the biggest difference perhaps being the composition of the crowds. While there were almost no wine trade professionals in Johannesburg, 30-40% of the Cape Town tasters present work in the wine trade. Interestingly, this didn’t impact the results heavily.

Johannesburg top 3:

  1. Ken Forrester, FMC Single Barrel 2014 – R 700
  2. Capensis, Chardonnay 2014 – R 950
  3. Sadie Family, Palladius 2015 – R 725

Cape Town top 3:

  1. Capensis, Chardonnay 2014 – R 950
  2. Ken Forrester, FMC Single Barrel 2014 – R 700
  3. Paul Cluver, Seven Flags Chardonnay 2016 – R 610

Overall results:

  1. Capensis, Chardonnay 2014 – R 950

2. Ken Forrester, FMC Single Barrel 2014 – R 700

3. Paul Cluver, Seven Flags Chardonnay 2016 – R 610

All wines tasted during the luxury white wine tasting:


1 Spier Franks K Smit 2015
2 Reyneke Natural Chenin Blanc 2016
3 Sadie Family Palladius 2015
4 Raats Eden High Density Chenin Blanc 2015
5 Ken Forrester The FMC – Single Barrel 2013
6 Paul Cluver Seven Flags Chardonnay 2016
7 Uva Mira Icon Chardonnay 2014
8 Leeu Passant Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2015
9 Capensis Chardonnay 2014
10 DelaireGraaff Terrace Block Chardonnay 2015


Roland Peens is the director of winecellar.co.za

All wines are available at winecellar.co.za

Please see the complete Wine Cellar tasting schedule, for January – April 2018, here.

About Wine Cellar:

 Wine Cellar’s 17-year history and close connections to South Africa’s best wine producers means securing exclusive releases and specialising not only in SA’s most sought-after wines but in Europe’s finest too and having an innate knack for unearthing future winemaking stars. As well as providing top South African and international fine wine with expert advice to private customers, Wine Cellar is also the largest private wine storage facility in Africa managing 25 000 cases at any given time.

Wine Cellarhas built a reputation as one of SA’s leading fine wine merchants with a team of experienced and respected palates at its helm. And this in a time when international experts such as British wine master Tim Atkin are referring to South Africa as ‘the most exciting wine producing country’. The team’s penchant for seeking out delicious wines to suit any pocket is the stuff of wine enthusiasts’ dreams and their extensive wine list boasts some of the finest and rarest vintages in the land … and access to this exceptional selection of wines is just a click away.

Wine Cellar will also host your private or corporate tastings with the option to create your own tailored tasting. You’ll find the Wine Cellar Cape Town tasting room at Price’s Park, Nelson Road, Observatory, Cape Town, 7925 and the Wine Cellar Johannesburg tasting room at Suite 1108 Dunkeld West Shopping Centre, Dunkeld, Johannesburg.

WTM Africa 2020