Time to enter Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge

This year’s winners of the Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge provide ample evidence of South Africa’s major advances with the variety, according to Ina Smith, manager of the Chenin Blanc Association.

“Chenin Blanc’s reputation continues to rise in a way that even Covid19 can’t seem to stop. Not only was a price approaching R5 000 per bottle achieved on a recent fine wine auction in South Africa for the FMC 2009 – a clear reflection of the variety’s collector appeal and its ability to age - but exporters already in the market before lockdown have been reporting anecdotally how internationally the grape has been increasingly captivating the wine-curious forced to stay at home.

The news comes as entries have just opened for this year’s Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge, with submissions accepted until Tuesday, July 2.


Ken Forrester, chairman of the Chenin Blanc Association (CBA) that organises the annual challenge, highlighted how Chenin’s standing had continued to grow, with higher auction prices and growing consumer awareness only part of the story. In the 2020 edition of Platter’s South African Wine Guide there were significantly more Chenin wines than any other varietal or style accorded a five-star rating. Meanwhile, UK wine commentator Tim Atkin MW was calling it “South Africa’s greatest wine grape” and had continued to score many expressions of the varietal very generously in his annual South African Special Report.

“Reputationally, South African Chenin Blanc’s time has come. It garners widespread critical acclaim and people are prepared to pay more for it. This is supported by the well above inflation rate year-on-year rise we see in the average retail selling price of the Top 10 Challenge winners. Given Chenin’s success at home and abroad, by last year, the number of wine-growers cultivating the grape in South Africa had risen to almost 300. Of course, the severe and lasting impact of the now-lifted Covid19 ban on export and domestic alcohol sales may alter that trajectory.”

Speaking on behalf of the sponsors, Stephan van der Merwe, head of commercial banking at Standard Bank in the Western Cape, said assuming the summit would take place next year, it would provide an excellent showcase for the winners of this year’s Top 10 Challenge. “Nothing can be taken for granted in these times of Covid19 but if the summit is able to go ahead as international travel opens up, imagine the level of exposure for the producers whose wines are chosen in this year’s line-up!”

This year marks the seventh of the competition that annually awards a cash prize to each of the producers of the top 10 Chenins selected. The stipulation is that the money – R25 000 per winning wine – goes towards a socially sustainable initiative involving wine-farm workers. To date R1,35 million has been spent on social upliftment programmes.

“The challenge is intended to honour the winning winemakers as much as the contribution of their wine-farm workers,” Van der Merwe said.

Entries should be delivered to Villiera in Stellenbosch between June 29 and the closing date of July 2.

With the prevailing constraints on international travel, there will be no overseas judge serving on this year’s panel. This year’s judges are James Pietersen (panel chair), Wine Cellar’s South African portfolio manager and a regular judge in this and several other leading local wine competitions; winemaker Boela Gerber Cape Wine Master of Groot Constantia; sommelier Higgo Jacobs, who is also a senior judge at the International Wine Challenge (IWC) and Decanter World Wine Awards and a past chairman of the South African Sommelier Association (SASA); Tinashe Nyamudoka, formerly a sommelier with chef Luke Dale Roberts and now a wine marketer; and Penny Setti, sommelier at Chef’s Warehouse. Tendai Marisa, sommelier at Indochine will serve as an associate judge.

For more information email Ina Smith on

Chenin Blanc and Old Vines

#SpectacularSouthAfrica in June celebrates Chenin Blanc, the variety where, while plantings have decreased, quality and image have risen immeasurably since the mid-1990s.

Wine magazine’s Chenin Blanc Challenge stimulated interest and in 1999, the Chenin Blanc Association was formed. The Association immediately recognised the importance of old vineyards, as recorded in the Minutes of the Association’s first meeting: ‘The most important issue that needs to be addressed is the evaluation of the very old chenin vineyards, some of which are in immediate danger of being uprooted to make way for trendier and currently better paying varieties!’


2019 Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top Ten Challenge Winners

This year’s winners of the Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge provide ample evidence of South Africa’s major advances with the variety, according to Ina Smith, manager of the Chenin Blanc Association.

“The growing focus on Chenin by international tastemakers has undoubtedly raised the quality benchmark,” says the association’s chairman, Ken Forrester. “It’s fair to say that the recent international Chenin Blanc congress, held in Angers, France, demonstrated to delegates just how far South African producers have succeeded with the variety, in terms of both quality and stylistic range."


Chenin Blanc International Congress

The first-ever congress brought together the two largest Chenin regions in the world, South Africa and the Loire and was held at the Jean Monnier Congress Centre in Angers from 1 to 3 July 2019.

The theme of the congress was Chenin Blanc in a Changing Environment and the aim was to increase the knowledge of Chenin internationally, particularly in relation to history, terroir, viticultural and winemaking research, and also wine tourism.


2018 Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top Ten Challenge Winners

News of the Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge winners for 2018, featuring five newcomers and five regulars, comes in the wake of unprecedented optimism in the grape variety.

The challenge drew 113 wooded and 46 unwooded entries, all tasted blind by the five-member panel, with 27 wines shortlisted for the final top ten line-up.



Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge 2017 Handovers: Winners pay it forward

During February and March the winning producers of the 2017 Challenge accepted their cheques of R25 000 each. The champion winemakers may enjoy the acclaim, but it is the workers, especially women and children, who are the real winners in the 2017 Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top Ten Challenge.

The cheques were presented to the winners by Neil Groenewald, Regional Manager (Winelands) and Henry Klopper, the Business Centre Manager in the Boland. Standard Bank extremely proud to be associated with the awards, which benefited not only South Africa's wine industry, but also provided valuable support for the farm workers. Click HERE to view more photo's from the cheque presentations.


Brand Chenin as SA's Wine Specialty, Says Leading US Commentator

South Africa stands the strongest chance of making an impact in the US by linking its wine marketing message with a single varietal in the way New Zealand has done with Sauvignon blanc and Argentina, with Malbec.


Chenin Blanc is a torchbearer and signature for South African white wine

Chenin is raking in awards, locally and abroad, and moving the South African wine industry forward, it would seem as if there is more momentum than ever and the Chenin star is shining bright! Amongst a spate of new releases, and some very exciting wines, Chenin is clearly the basis of a new found quality white wine segment.

The Basket Press May 2016


Chenin Blanc and Top 10 Challenge 2015

The second annual Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge unlocked the obvious potential of Chenin Blanc with pure fruit, complexity, balance, some weight and power indicating the best of the best. KWV, Perdeberg, Simonsig, Spier and Stellenrust once again impressed judges for a second year as part of the Top 10, an indication of these cellars’ reputation for high quality Chenin Blanc wines. New winners included Aeternitas, Boutinot, DeMorgenzon, L'Avenir and Leopard's Leap.

A total of 145 wines were entered into the competition, (15% up from the previous year) and tasted blind with no indication of vintage, cellar treatment or technical analysis by the five-person panel including Christian Eedes, one of South Africa’s most respected wine judges as chairperson; Jamie Goode from the United Kingdom, a London-based wine writer currently wine columnist with UK national newspaper The Sunday Express; Higgo Jacobs, certified with the Court of Master Sommeliers and wine judge; François Rautenbach, a man deeply invested in hospitality and heading up the ‘Singita Premier Wine Direct’ programme for Singita Game Reserves and sourcing and supplying wines for the Singita properties in Southern and East Africa; Cathy van Zyl, Master of Wine, regular judge and associate editor of Platter’s South African Wine Guide, as well as associate judges Jaap-Henk Koelewijn, sommelier and partner in Tokara Restaurant, and Tongai Joseph Dhafana sommelier at La Colombe.

The Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge on Top Billing (Full insert)

Top Billing features Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top Ten Challenge 2015

Top Billing features DeMorgenzon Estate

Top Billing features L'Avenir Estate

Robert Redford chats to our PR Partner Nicolette Waterford about his love for SA Chenin blanc

Posted by Chenin Blanc Association on Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Chenin Blanc Association of South Africa