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Quality and Excellence at the 2019 FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10

06 September 2019

  • FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 Competition judging convener, Winnie Bowman

The countdown to naming this year's champions of Sauvignon blanc has begun. Along with an increase in entries, judges completing the final round of assessments for the 2019 FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 Competition highlighted excellence of matured white wines.

This year, 183 wines compete for the envied title – up from 177 last year. A total of 107 producers submitted wines for the competition, taking place for the first time this year under the auspices of Sauvignon Blanc South Africa, formerly known as the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group.

"There was outstanding support for the competition again this year," says Dr Winifred Bowman, Cape Wine Master and convenor of the panel.  "The vintages spanned from 2016 to 2019 and demonstrated once again that Sauvignon blanc ages well," she says. “Of the entries submitted, 29 were oak-matured wines. The panel was very impressed with the increase in the number of oak-matured wines, especially because the use of oak was applied for texture and complexity without dominating the fresh and typical varietal flavours.

"The recent drought had a big influence, especially on the ageability of some wine produced during the difficult vintages. However, 2019 was an exceptional year for the variety, where particularly oak-matured wines stood out."

Along with Dr Bowman, the panel this year comprised winemaker Charles Hopkins of De Grendel, Dr Carien Coetzee of Basic Wine, experienced wine judge and writer Fiona McDonald and Wilhelm Pienaar of Hermanuspietersfontein. It also included trainee judges Ben Snyman of Overhex Wines, Chandre Petersen of Flagstone Winery, Morgan Steyn of De Grendel and Rudger van Wyk of Starke-Conde Wines.

Remarking on the performance of the protégé tasters, Dr Bowman declared: "They all did very well; the future of wine judging in South Africa is certainly in good hands."

Celebrated winemaker and co-judge Charles Hopkins said it continues to be a privilege for him to participate in assessing the best of South Africa's Sauvignon blanc wines. "The event was well organised, and I'm overjoyed at the opportunity created for the development of junior tasters.

Hopkins also highlighted the excellence of the oak-matured wines, as well as wines from 2017. "I'm very satisfied to see that the industry is moving in the right direction in terms of Sauvignon blanc quality."

Judging took place from Tuesday 3 to Thursday 5 September at Kleine Zalze Wine Estate in Stellenbosch.            

This is the eighth consecutive year the FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 Competition is held, a collaboration between FNB and Sauvignon Blanc SA.

"Sauvignon blanc is a key variety for South Africa," says Sauvignon Blanc SA chairman RJ Botha. "Promoting its excellence locally and internationally is only possible through long-term relationships and we are grateful for the support that FNB provides us."

The Top 20 finalists in the competition will be announced later this month with the 10 winners to be announced at the FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 gala awards dinner on Wednesday October 9 at the FNB Portside building in Cape Town. A technical seminar based on this year's performance is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 20 November in Franschhoek.

Sauvignon blanc is the third most widely planted white grape variety in the Cape Winelands and among the most extensive in New World wine countries. This in mind, Sauvignon Blanc SA came about to promote the quality South African Sauvignon Blanc locally and internationally.

Anyone can become a member of Sauvignon Blanc SA to access the benefits of pooled expert knowledge. For more information or to sign up for the Sauvignon Blanc SA newsletter, visit or call 021 975 4440.

Join the online conversation about the #FNBTop10 #SauvignonBlancSA and tag Sauvignon Blanc SA on Twitter @SauvignonSA and on Facebook and Instagram as @sauvignonblancsa

Press Release: Yolandi De Wet PR –