Decanter Best in Show Award highlights Ken Forrester’s Chenin Blanc leadership

by | Jun 7, 2022 | Article, Wineland

The Ken Forrester Old Vines Reserve Chenin Blanc 2021 was awarded a Best in Show Award at the 2022 Decanter World Wine Awards, cementing Forrester’s reputation as the pioneering leader of Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc.

Almost three decades since Ken Forrester made the career shift from prominent Johannesburg restaurateur to Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc specialist, the Chenin Blanc category has evolved vastly and this variety is now widely regarded as South Africa’s white flagship.

Being recognised as the world’s top Chenin Blanc at the Decanter awards is an endorsement of Ken’s continued commitment to producing world class Chenin, specifically from old vineyards.



The Ken Forrester Old Vines Reserve Chenin Blanc 2021 was awarded a Best in Show Award at the 2022 Decanter World Wine Awards.

Decanter Best in Show

The combination of cool growing conditions and ample sunshine has been instrumental in Ken Forrester’s Old Vine Reserve Chenin, which is sustainably produced from grapes that are grown almost exclusively at Ken Forrester Vineyards, on the lower slopes of the Helderberg Mountain.

Abundant Stellenbosch sunshine and cool growing conditions due to the close proximity of the Atlantic Ocean, result in a wine with harmonious balance between fruit and delicate oak/vanilla flavours, with melon, honeycomb and spicy baked apple aromas, complemented by crisp mineral notes.

The Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc is harvested in two selections – one batch naturally fermented on French Oak Barrels and a second batch fermented in stainless steel to preserve the freshness and the fruit.

“Our philosophy has always been to create a range of sustainable, handcrafted, individually made wines that suitably complements a wide variety of food styles. The Old Vine Reserve Chenin has generous but soft flavours with sufficient body to enhance even spicy and full flavoured meals,” explains Ken.

The Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc is available at fine wine shops and restaurants across the globe via

WATCH: Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc 

ALSO READ: Make most of rising Chenin love, says Ken Forrester

“Many of the finest and (now) most admired South African wines are based on Chenin Blanc,” says influential UK critic Jancis Robinson MW. She also highlights the grape’s sound ageing potential, asserting in last month’s Financial Times article on Chenin that “with time it can hold its own with the finest white wines”.

Her affirmation coincides with a recent feature on old-vine Chenins in another UK publication, Decanter, in which Christian Eedes calls these “arguably South Africa’s greatest vinous asset”.

Ken Forrester, co-founder and chair of the Chenin Blanc Association (CBA), says the validation comes just ahead of this year’s Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge that opens for entries on June 21.

“It’s a great time for making Chenin. The grape continues to play a key role in building South Africa’s ever-rising reputation as a source of excellent, exciting and age-worthy wines.

“Export sales values of packaged Chenins rose 21% year-on-year for the 12 months to April 2021. This was despite an export ban and the shipping logjams that followed, a performance that certainly demonstrates market-resilience. Chenin now accounts for 14% of total volumes exported.  This is the biggest share of any category, with Sauvignon blanc following at 12%.

“Domestically, for the first quarter of this year compared with 2020, Chenin’s biggest growth occurred in the price band of R90 to R99 a bottle. That tells you South Africans are also very much recognising its worth.

“Collectively, this news should inspire local producers to enter the Challenge. There is so much to gain from being included in the top 10 line-up – the endorsement, the exposure and knowing that each winning wine attracts a cash prize of R25 000 to spend on a project to uplift or upskill your community of farm workers, in recognition of their contribution to your success.”

He stresses that since the inception of the challenge in 2014, the organisers have made it a condition of entry that all prize money must be spent this way.



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