Chardonnay in South Africa has experienced significant growth and acclaim in recent years, positioning itself as one of the country’s leading white wine varietals. Here are some highlights of Chardonnay in South Africa:

  1. Rising Popularity: Chardonnay plantings according to SAWIS statistics is at 7,3%, which is 16 100 Ha of the total of 49% of white varieties planted.  Winemakers have increasingly focused on producing high-quality Chardonnay wines that showcase the diversity of terroir and winemaking styles across different regions, from cooler coastal areas to warmer inland vineyards. As a result, South African Chardonnay has garnered attention both domestically and especially internationally, with growing demand from consumers seeking elegant, complex, and expressive white wines.
  2. Quality and Diversity: South African Chardonnay is known for versatility and ability to express a wide range of flavours and styles. Cool climate regions such as the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley and Elgin produce Chardonnays with crisp acidity, vibrant fruit flavours, and minerality, while warmer regions like Stellenbosch and Robertson yield richer, fuller-bodied wines with ripe fruit and creamy texture.

“We have such diverse sites in South Africa, offering us the opportunity to produce a variety of Chardonnay styles. Ancient soils, our vibrant spirit and the versatile nature of Chardonnay offers us this.  Simply follow your taste and choose your wine.” – Sjaak Nelson, Chardonnay Association Chair.

  1. International Recognition: South African Chardonnay has earned accolades and awards on the global stage, competing with renowned Chardonnay-producing regions such as Burgundy, California, and Australia. Several wineries have received critical acclaim for their premium Chardonnay offerings, showcasing the country’s ability to produce world-class wines that rival those from established wine regions.
  2. Innovation and Experimentation: South African winemakers are continuously innovating and experimenting with Chardonnay winemaking techniques, including barrel fermentation, lees contact, and malolactic fermentation, to enhance complexity and texture in the wines. Some producers are also exploring alternative approaches such as natural fermentation, concrete egg ageing, and amphora ageing to create unique and distinctive Chardonnay expressions that reflect the character of the vineyard and vintage. Viticulturally, technology transfer work is being done with the Gen-Z project: 5 chardonnay demo projects have been established across regions to track the impact of climatic conditions on rootstock, clonal material and pruning methods on the quality and performance of Chardonnay production in South Africa.
  3. Value Proposition: South African Chardonnay offers excellent value for quality, often providing a compelling alternative to higher-priced Chardonnays from other regions.

At its best, South African Chardonnay has an electric brightness, fantastic minerality, and sometimes what felt like a wonderful sea-borne freshness that I found positively thrilling. These wines, while they might not manage to express quite as much mineral depth as the white Burgundies in this particular tasting (which proved relatively easy to spot in this exercise), they certainly stood shoulder-to-shoulder with them in overall quality. In some cases, they clearly outshone some of the global reference bottlings, many of which were two to five times more expensive. – Alder Yarrow

Overall, Chardonnay in South Africa is on a trajectory of growth and success, driven by its quality, diversity, and value proposition. As consumers continue to discover and appreciate the country’s distinctive Chardonnay offerings, South Africa is poised to further establish itself as a leading producer of world-class white wines.


For further details contact: 

Andre Morgenthal – 

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