Exploring South Africa’s Finest White Wines: A Comprehensive Guide

By | 2 May 2024

Over the past thirty years, South Africa‘s wine industry has seen a significant resurgence, with a focus on modernisation and expansion. From being previously known for mass production of grapes and brandy, South African white wines now rival the best the world has to offer.

Chenin Blanc, a leading variety in The Cape, is a prominent player in South Africa’s white wine sector. Recent Decanter World Wine Awards results highlight that South Africa’s commitment to quality and innovation has more to offer.

The array of white wines awarded top honors at the competition is increasingly diverse, from top-notch Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc blended with Semillon to Rhône-inspired and exclusive blends.

The geographical spread of these wines is also increasing. From cool-climate regions like Elgin in the Cape South Coast, renowned for exceptional Chardonnays, to the hot, dry Western Cape’s Citrusdal Mountain which uses altitude to produce fresh and standout white wines. South Africa’s wine producers continue to offer notable white wines, paving the way for future unique expressions.

Below discover 15 greats from the 2023 competition, with more to seek out at awards.decanter.com

Iona, Elgin Highlands Chardonnay 2021

Best in Show, 97 points

£22.99-£27.95 Bush Vines, Latitude, Thorne Wines, Vin Cognito, Winoship

Lean, shapely, intense: a cool waterfall of fruits sweep seamlessly over the tongue. Drinkability, refreshment and a unique regional style come together with aplomb, and the 11 months’ oak provide an aromatic backdrop. Alcohol 12.8%

Neil Ellis, Whitehall Chardonnay 2021

Platinum, 97 points

£27.95-£31.95 (2020) Cellar Door Wines, Cheers, South Downs Cellars

An enrapturing sea breeze freshness cascades over pure peach, zingy pineapple and lemon curd with a persistent tension of racy acidity. Youthful and spirited with a moreish, lemongrass-infused finish. Exceptional. Alc 13%

Lothian, Chardonnay 2021

Gold, 96 points

£26-£30 (2020) All About Wine, Corking Wines, Hic, The Wine Rooms Cambridge, WineTrust

Poised and focused with searing notes of salted lemon, tangy lime and Granny Smith apple, nuanced with textured smoky oak and a flinty mineral tension. Alc 13.5%

Paul Cluver, Seven Flags Chardonnay 2021

Gold, 95 points

£58-£64 Christopher Piper, Frontier Fine Wines, Winoship

A flourish of white blossom, peach and mango dance on a creamy base of oatmeal and cashew oak, with a salty minerality and twist of lime cutting through. Alc 13.5%

Diemersdal, The Journal Sauvignon Blanc, Durbanville 2022

Platinum, 97 points

£27 Laithwaites

Beguiling aromas of elderflower, herbaceous verbena, white peach and apricot with a gorgeous, mouthcoatingly taut ruby grapefruit core and a fresh line of salty acidity. Incredibly well-defined and refreshing with a long, vivid finish. Alc 13.5%

Bellingham, The Founders Series Freda 2021

Platinum, 97 points


Vivacious lime zest, green mango and apple encased in layers of fragrant herbs and courgette flowers, beautifully aligned with the creamy banana bread texture and nourishingly supportive oak. Luxurious and bewitching, with a cleansing saline finish. Alc 13.5%

Boschendal, Chenin Blanc 2022

Value Gold, 95 points

£9.75 Tesco

Honeyed sundried peach aromas with notes of nectarine, orange rind and ripe pear. Textured and creamy with a broad structure and a singing saline finish. Alc 13%

Escapades, Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Gold, 95 points


Waxy aromas of lemon rind, ripe red apple, tangerine, lime oil and fresh stone fruit. Impeccably balanced with racy acidity and a creamy texture. Ageing beautifully. Alc 13.5%

Capensis, Silene Chardonnay 2021

Gold, 96 points

£28.50 (2020) Fareham Wine Cellar

Bursting with ripe peach, pear and pineapple, this has an expressive vanilla bean oak intensity and a lively tension from the lemon acidity. Long, herbaceous and fulfilling style. Alc 14%

Bartinney, Hourglass Chardonnay, Banghoek 2021

Gold, 95 points

£42.45-£44.60 Humble Grape, Port2Port

Simmering with fruit salad energy atop a mellow custard tart creaminess. Classy and vibrant with a joyous fluidity and an enriching savoury tone to the finish. Alc 13.5%

Rustenberg, Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc, Simonsberg-Stellenbosch 2022

Value Gold, 95 points

£14-£15 Frontier Fine Wine, Majestic, Selfridges, Vinvm

Enchanting clementine zest, grapefruit and green grass with a flinty focus and refined acidity cutting through the mellow creamy texture. Long, poised and impressive. Alc 13%

Tokara, Director’s Reserve 2020

Gold, 95 points

£24.50-£32 Alexander Hadleigh, Hedonism, Pull the Cork, The Wine Reserve, Vinvm

Alluring orange, grapefruit, kiwi fruit and nectarine lead into a full palate that seamlessly integrates savoury oak alongside full, mouthcoating fruit of an almost viscous intensity. Alc 13.5%

Piekenierskloof, Grenache Blanc, Piekenierskloof 2022

Value Gold, 95 points

£12-£16 Cellar Door Wines, Stone Vine & Sun, The Fine Wine Co

Bewitching plump stone fruit, yellow apple, quince and ginger spice with a taut tang of acidity and a classy gravel note. Wonderfully harmonious and long. Alc 13%

Quest, Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2022

Gold, 95 points


Billowing with white blossom, crisp citrus and stone fruit, building momentum to a mouthcoatingly creamy palate engulfed in a subtle frame of baking spice and quince. Alc 12.5%

Nederburg, The Winemasters Chardonnay 2022

Value Gold, 95 points

£10.55-£12 Biltong St Marcus, Fareham Wine Cellar, ND John

Bright and vivacious with lush honeyed apples and a clean citrus crush lifted by steely acidity, with charming creamy cashew notes at the end. Alc 14%

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