2017 SAWi 'Grand Wines Collection’ Awards
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When is a wine exceptionally good and worthy of recognition as a ‘fine wine’? Is it once it has won a double gold accolade or a trophy? What if it consistently receives numerous outstanding awards above gold accolades only, year on year?

To determine which wines distinguish itself from the rest, SAWi applies a rigorous methodology through its Algorithm of Excellence, ascribing a value to the various kinds of awards to level the playing field and in doing so, properly assess the quality status of every wine produced here. 

In the process, the system con­denses the results of more than 100 judging panels using a rolling ten-year timeframe.  

Applying the Algorithm of Excellence to this vast set of data, stretching back a decade, patterns emerge that makes it easy to distinguish wines which are consistently accepted as exceptional. Importantly, it allows for the only definitive comparison of vinous like with like. 

In having set an aspirational benchmark for quality, SAWi brings together top producers under a new brand concept referred to as the ‘Grand Wines Collection’(GWC), promoting South African fine wines as a collective. 

The GWC offers wine lovers the first ever South African cultivar ‘ranking’ list and the most definitive measure of wine quality to date. 

The annual SAWi Wine Excellence Awards that took place on 17 June, at the luxurious Grootbos Private Nature Reserve,presented an occasion to recognise truly great achievements in South African winemaking. 

While some may have reservations about ‘points’ as a gauge of quality, suggesting that price makes for a better indicator, it is interesting to note that there is a strong, albeit incidental, correlation between ranking position and price. This is further reason to regard the SAWi benchmark as definitive.  

Despite this price-rank correlation, a small number of wines in the SAWi Top 10 rankings are inexpensive, making the acquisition of some fine wines very affordable too. 

SAWi acknowledges that inexpensive fine wines are sure to fetch better prices as their achievements become more commonly recognised and as such regards such price adjustment as entirely appropriate. 

After all, price and quality are linked by perception and South Africa’s fine wines deserve to be exposed to a discerning local and international wine fraternity.


SAWi once again presented the ultimate collection of South African fine wines for tasting at its Wine Excellence Awards function.

Whilst all South African wines are ranked using the SAWi Algorithm of Excellence, only those wines that achieved an Index value of 93 points or higher are considered for the SAWi GWC. No less than 400 wines from 187 producers were represented. 

Within the GWC, SAWi members gain recognition with a ‘Platinum’ status accolade bestowed on wines with a multi-year score of 95 or more and ‘Grand Gold’ status for a score of 93 or more. The current GWC is split almost equally between Platinum and Grand Gold achievers. No less than 50 wines received perfect 100-points scores. 

Neil Ellis was nominated as the latest SAWi Wine Legend, having, amongst other achievements, being first in sourcing grapes from vineyards and sites he wanted, going single-handily up against the bureaucracy ‘who was stifling everything at the time’. This was part of the revolution South African Wines were waiting for.  

Neil joins other SAWi Legends, with the likes of Peter Finlayson, Jan ‘Boland’ Coetzee, Beyers Truter, Etienne le Riche and Hempies du Toit. 

Overall trophy honours went to KWV, with unprecedented15 Platinum accolades. TheTrophies for best Fine White and Red Wine Producers of the year once again went to DeMorgenzon (including the highest score for a white wine produced) and Bouchard Finlayson, while the trophy for best brandy went to Laborie. 

Wineries with the highest number of accolades were KWV 20 (15 Platinum); Distell 18; Cederberg and Spier 9 each; Groot Constantia and Kleine Zalze 8 each; Creation, Paul Cluver and Saronsberg 7 each; and Diemersdal and Annandale 6 each. 

DeMorgenzon, Bouchard Finlayson, La Motte, Rustenberg, Vergelegen, Vriesenhof, Wildekrans and Windmeul all received five awards each. Many other wineries received multiple awards. 

What is of particular importance is the consistency in multiple-vintage results for most wines mentioned here. This is paramount in wine competitions. 

SAWi once again welcomed a number of new wineries as members. These included Bergsig Estate, Jason’s Hill, Windmeul and Cape Point Vineyards. 

Currently, the overall quality index for SA wines stands at 90.7 points which provides a reassuring statement about the strength of the local wine industry and points to the exceptional value South African wines present to the consumer.

Download complete list of SAWI award winners (pdf format)...

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