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Researchers map out world´s winegrape varieties

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The new database, funded by the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation (GWRDC), provides an in-depth analysis of the world’s wine varieties and winegrape growing nations that account for 99% of global wine production.

The database is available online at: and an e-book can be freely downloaded at:

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South African Wine Index (SAWi) Press Release


22 November 2016

The South African Wine Index is proud to present a biannual update to the first SAWi South African Wine Ranking List, previously published in June 2016. The South African Wine Ranking List identifies South Africa’s top performing wines using the SAWi multi-vintage ‘Algorithm of Excellence’, and these top wines are presented as a collective referred to as the South African Grand Wines Collection (GWC).

SAWi’s unique ‘Algorithm of Excellence’ is applied to measure the performance of individual wines across a minimum of three vintages, and compares and condenses the results from more than 100 multinational competitions, ratings, reviews and listings (acknowledging the nature of the competitions and any additional accolades bestowed on the wine) over a rolling period of ten years, and expresses this as a single value out of 100. The Grand Wines Collection only features wines that achieve 93 or more index points.

As the ranking process considers a wine’s performance over a relatively long period, wholescale changes to the South African Wine Ranking List are never expected, particularly when considering the top performing wines. This update does, however, highlight considerable movement within certain cultivar or wine style categories, and several newly ranked wines have entered the Grand Wines Collection.

Highlights of the latest update include:

  • Tremendous overall movement within the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir categories, with a 54% increase in the number of wines that qualify for inclusion;
  • Noticeable overall movement within White Blends (+50%), Bordeaux Blends, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinotage categories (+44%), followed by Rhone Blends (+34%);
  • Some 40 wines, previously scoring just below 93 index points, have joined the GWC and two wines have fallen off the list; 
  • 57 new wines stand poised to join the GWC;
  • There were no additions to the Viognier and MCC categories, and very few to the Semillon, Red Blends, Merlot, Cape Blends, Dessert/Fortified Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc categories;
  • The Shiraz category is the biggest with 87 ranked wines, followed by Bordeaux Blends, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinotage and Chenin Blanc, respectively;
  • The Rhone Blends, Red Blends and Sauvignon Blanc categories exhibited the greatest movement within the Top Ten and Top Five subsets.

 This ranking update lends weight to the reputations of the mainstay of the South African wine industry, but it also highlights that things are changing. The strong standing in the industry of some leading cultivars of the past seems to have become relatively tenuous and the sheer number of consistently excelling wines suggests that there are no longer any single pinnacle varieties.

 With the SAWi indexing process recognised as the ultimate quality benchmark for South African wines, the South African Wine Ranking List represents the best wines in this country.

 Visit for more information and the full Grand Wine Collection list.


 Media Contact: Brett Garner on behalf of South African Wine Index (SAWi)