With Tim Atkin’s 2016 report being released yesterday, we thought that it would be a great time to get to know the man behind the legend. His notoriety has been acknowledged all over the world and his expertise internationally respected for over 31 years by winemakers and connoisseurs alike.
Hailing from Britain, Atkin is one of the leading wine writers internationally and has made huge contributions to the wine industry over the last few decades. He writes for various publications monthly including The Observer, The Times and Women and Home, including others. He has also made various on-screen appearances on BBC’S Inside Out and Saturdays Kitchen. He is also a part of The Three Wine Men who host events that bring winemakers and consumers together all over the UK.
He holds a BA from Durham University in Modern Languages and a Masters (with distinction) from the London School of Economics in European Studies. In 1993 he was a European Union fellow on the Paris-based Journalists in Europe programme. In 2001 he passed the Master of Wine examination at the first attempt, winning the Robert Mondavi Award for the best set of theory papers. He is a Caballero del Vino, a Chevalier du Tastevin and a member of the Ordre du Bontemps.
He has extensively lectured to large corporate companies, summits and conferences. This, together with his contribution to numerous books has pushed him to the forefront of wine knowledge globally. He has, in addition, written two of his own books, Chardonnay and Vins de Pays d’Oc.
He is most famous for his wine judging and has headed up judging in several countries including the UK, France, the US, Argentina, Spain, Chile, Australia and naturally, South Africa. In addition to this, he is the co-chairman of the London based International Wine Challenge, which happens to be the world’s biggest blind tasting competitions.
Tucked under his belt are the following awards:
- 1988, 1990, 1993, 2004, 2006: Glenfiddich Wine Writer of the Year
- 1991, 1992, 1994, 1996: UK Wine Guild Wine Correspondent of the Year
- 1994: Wines of France Award
- 1995: The Bunch Award for Wine Journalism
- 1995: Waterford Crystal Wine Correspondent of the Year
- 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004: Lanson Black Label Award
- 2005: Wines of Portugal Award
- 2007: International Wine & Spirit Communicator of the Year
- 2007: World Food Media Awards Best Drink Journalist
- 2009: Louis Roederer International Wine Columnist of the Year
- 2011: Born Digital Award for www.timatkin.com and Louis Roederer Wine Website of the Year
His 2016 report has just been released the highly anticipated results are as follows:
- Winemaker of the Year: Abrie Beeslaar of Kanonkop and Beeslaar
- Young Winemaker of the Year: Matt Day of Klein Constantia
- Overall White Wine of the Year; 2015 David & Nadia Hoë-Steen Chenin Blanc, Swartland
- Overall Red Wine of the Year: 2014 Boschkloof Epilogue Syrah, Stellenbosch
- Overall Sweet Wine of the Year: 2013 Boekenhoutskloof Noble Late Harvest, Franschhoek
- Overall Sparkling Wine of the Year: 2010 Silverthorn Jewel Box, Western Cape
- White Wine Discovery of the Year: 2015 BLANKbottle Orbitofrontal Cortex, Western Cape
- Red Wine Discovery of the Year 2015: Newton Johnson CWG Seadragon Pinot Noir, Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.
In his report, Atkin praises the strides that South Africa has taken in producing some of the finest wine in the world. He tips his hat to the young South African winemakers who have explored other wine territories and brought home the knowledge to South Africa to make world class wine. His comments that South Africa is producing wine that is spectacular value at a very low cost really drives home how far South Africa has come in creating amazing wine, but how the economy is hindering the potential of absolute growth of the industry.
His report includes some very interesting notes and pointers to the South African wine industry. He praises the 2015 vintage for both reds and whites, throwing around adjectives like astonishing, outstanding and perfect. He notes that MCC is one of the most exciting styles of wine at the moment in South Africa with over 220 MCC producers in South Africa alone.
He does raise some crucial issues that South Africa still needs to overcome in order to dominate the global wine industry and to set ourselves where we should rightfully be in producing and selling wine. He mentions that South Africa, unlike Spain and Australia lacks the ladder-brands that cover all the bases (or rungs), from commercial to world class wines. He delves into the need for South Africa to not only protect old, dwindling vines, but to also explore new vines and should begin to make use of more diverse cultivars. Lastly, although the social and economic development in the country is definitely starting to take effect in the country, and the expansion of the wine land regions has created more diverse and plentiful wine making potential, the severe lack of profitability in the wine industry is still one of the greatest hurdles that the country needs to collectively get over.
However, what is clearly driven home is Atkins’ point, that South Africa is the most dynamic wine producing country in the world, and on this point, South Africa eagerly looks to move toward the new era of winemaking in the next few years.