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Home Winners > Winners 2016 > NEW WORLD: Chardonnay South Africa

Winner Details

New World: Chardonnay, South Africa

2016 Gold: 3 Silver: 4 Bronze: 2 Commended: 6
2015 Gold: 3 Silver: 3 Bronze: 4 Commended: 4

South Africa’s ‘Chardolution’ has been less well documented than that from Oz, but it’s there none the less. After years of dismal showings in this competition, this was the third successive Sommelier Wine Awards when the country has picked up a good string of medals and three places on the Gold List.

Stylistically, these wines were slightly more fruit-forward than Australia’s ‘New Roo’ versions, and about 10-20% cheaper on average, making them probably more gastropub/brasserie than fine-dining, though it was good to see that our judges had no hesitation in rewarding wines of real ambition when they found them.

FROM THE TASTING TEAMS

‘The wines hit the sweet spot on the menu, not too cheap, not too expensive, and well made. There were some charming wines in this flight, though some were reductive.’ Ignacio Campos, Hawksmoor Seven Dials

‘At the cheaper end, they would probably be sold as “a glass of white”. As you went up the price level, they gave you oak, but it was very well handled.’ Sarah Jane Evans MW, team leader

‘What are you looking for in South African Chardonnay? There were very mixed feelings around the table. There isn’t a clear style.’ Andrea Briccarello, team leader

‘There wasn’t much terroir, it felt like the wines were made in the winery, and it felt that some were acidified, which wasn’t appealing.’ Andrés Ituarte, Avenue Restaurant

‘We do one By The Glass and it sells well. It’s a good option if you don’t want to spend too much on Chardonnay, there’s good value in South Africa.’ Nausicaa Rotoloni, Roka Mayfair

‘Some styles were really heavy oak bombs, other were more mineral and citrus-focused. The most expensive one was very good, but could you charge £80-£100 for it? I’m not sure you could.’ Harry Crowther, M Restaurants

“There’s a very nice evolution compared to what was being made 10 years ago.” Dominique Raclin, consultant sommelier

Award winners

Found 15 wines

New World: Chardonnay, South Africa

Newton Johnson, Southend, Chardonnay, 2014, Walker Bay , South Africa

Gold medal winner

'Classically exotic Chardonnay,' began team leader Sarah Jane Evans MW of Newton Johnson's Gold Lister, going on: 'Tropical fruit, but it is fresh and well balanced, with a mineral undertow.' 'Bold use of oak, seductive and creamy palate with red apples, ripe and juicy,' added Andrés Ituarte of Avenue Restaurant, with The French Table's Sarah Guignard suggesting a match with monkfish wrapped in potato with asparagus and lemon and herb hollandaise.

£11.54 Bibendum Wine

De Wetshof, The Site, Chardonnay, 2014, Robertson , South Africa

Gold medal winner

This had all the 'characteristics of great Chardonnay', said team leader Hamish Anderson, continuing: 'The nose is tight, bright and intriguing. There's a very classy almost European note to the palate, with its spice and seamless character and length.' While Rustem Mingaleev of Bovey Castle noted 'peach and apricot fruit, a touch of minerality and moderate acidity', Ignacio Campos of Hawksmoor Seven Dials picked up on 'light texture, with dried fruits, sultana and cooked apple notes'.

£17.75 Ellis of Richmond

Glen Carlou, Chardonnay, 2014, Paarl , South Africa

Gold medal winner

'Elegant use of oak, really good quality, showing good apple and lime fruit and great balance for the price,' said Andrés Ituarte of Avenue Restaurant, illustrating how Glen Carlou struck Gold. Team leader Sarah Jane Evans MW added: 'Floral, waxy, with a fine, delicate palate. Individual with charming freshness,' while Ubiquitous Chip's James MacDuffie noted: 'Honey nut nose with fried banana. The palate is full, rich and moreish, with a nutty lingering finish.'

£9.55 Liberty Wines

Thelema, Chardonnay, 2014, Elgin , South Africa

Silver medal winner

Andrés Ituarte of Avenue Restaurant found 'fresh, lively minerality, tart apple and pear flavours with zippy acids', while Rustem Mingaleev of Bovey Castle noted its 'clean, medium body and peach and apricot fruit'.

£10.15 Enotria&Coe

Creation, Chardonnay, 2014, Walker Bay , South Africa

Silver medal winner

'Stony mineral fruit on the nose with toasted almond hints. Rich and generous on the palate with good oak influence,' said Victor Amaro of Hotel du Vin Tunbridge Wells, adding: 'Definitive style, with great potential to mature in the bottle.'

£17.02 Bibendum Wine

Nederburg, The Manor, Chardonnay, 2015, Western Cape , South Africa

Silver medal winner

'Well-structured mouthfeel, full of green apple orchard fruit, melon and an attractive creamy note,' said Charles Van Wyk of FJB Collection, with Roka Mayfair's Nausicaa Rotolani adding: 'Palate shows ripe tropical fruits and fresh acidity. Good for the price.'

£6.60 Matthew Clark

Bouchard Finlayson, Crocodile's Lair, Chardonnay, 2014, Overberg , South Africa

Silver medal winner

'Malo notes of butter and brioche on the nose, complemented by crisp orchard fruits on the palate, with a touch of tannin,' said Harry Crowther of M Restaurants, while team leader Hamish Anderson said: 'Lovely fresh, lifted nose with subtle oak. Multi-faceted, with great purity. Seamless and good value.'

£9.11 Seckford Agencies

Thelema, Sutherland, Chardonnay, 2013, Elgin , South Africa

Bronze medal winner

'Toasty on the nose. You have to love the style, well balanced and together,' began 67 Pall Mall's Enikő Heidenwolf, continuing: 'Good body, big but not overwhelming. There is a balance in acidity and creaminess, with a fresh, long and toasty finish.'

£10.32 Enotria&Coe

De Wetshof, Bon Vallon, Chardonnay, 2015, Robertson , South Africa

Bronze medal winner

'Very attractive stone fruit notes with underlying slatey mineral character, bringing complexity and beautiful weight on the palate. Good value,' said Charles Van Wyk of FJB Collection. 'Citrus and butterscotch notes, complex yet refreshing,' added team leader Andrea Briccarello.

£7.40 Ellis of Richmond

MAN Family Wines, Padstal, Chardonnay, 2015, Coastal Region , South Africa

Commended medal winner

£6.55 Enotria&Coe

The Winery of Good Hope, The Crux, Chardonnay, 2014, Stellenbosch , South Africa

Commended medal winner

£7.99 Greene King

Lismore, Chardonnay, 2013, Western Cape , South Africa

Commended medal winner

Journey's End , Single Vineyard, Chardonnay , 2013, Western Cape , South Africa

Commended medal winner

£12.11 Bibendum Wine

Springfield Estate, Wild Yeast, Chardonnay, 2014, Robertson , South Africa

Commended medal winner

£11.82 Bibendum Wine

Journey's End , Haystack, Chardonnay, 2014, Coastal Region , South Africa

Commended medal winner

£9.58 Bibendum Wine