In his eagerly anticipated 2019 report, Atkin has awarded 99 points to two wines – 2017 Boschkloof Epilogue Syrah and 2018 Sadie Family ’T Voetpad – and 95 points or more to a further 159 wines. “There was no 100-pointer this year,” he says, “but all of my top-rated wines are exceptional, reflecting the diversity and exceptional quality of the best of the Cape.”
Atkin highlights a number of challenges facing the wine industry, especially climate change and the continued unprofitability of many wine businesses. “The dams may be fuller than they were a year ago after the winter rains, but producers still need to think about what and where they plant in future,” he says. “We are finally seeing the overdue emergence of a fine wine category, but too much wine is sold too cheaply for the long-term health of the industry. Winemakers need to pay more for their grapes and consumers need to recognise that South Africa cannot continue to be the world’s bargain basement.”
This year, Atkin singles out Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Cinsault and Syrah for special praise, all of which are established varieties in the Cape, but also highlights the “enormous potential” of Albariño, Agiorgitiko, Assyrtiko, Furmint, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Noir, Malbec, Mourvèdre, Petit Verdot, Roussanne and Verdelho. “Not before time, South Africa is expanding its palette of grapes,” he says.
Atkin’s 2019 South Africa Special Report runs to over 281 pages and is the product of three trips to the Cape over the last year, as well as further tastings in the UK, and includes:
– Top wines of the year (white, red, rosé, sweet, fortified and sparkling);
– Scores for 2 118 wines, with retail prices in South African Rand, ranging from R33 to R4,000; 1 447 tasting notes;
– Evocative photos of the winelands and winemakers;
– His controversial 2019 classification of the 250 best South African wineries.