Local wines impress in Gilbert & Gaillard International Challenge

The history of the Gilbert & Gaillard group is a story of two friends. Philippe Gaillard and François Gilbert both have winemaking roots in France – the Gilbert family hails from the Cognac region and the Gaillard family from the Loire Valley. In 1989, the two friends founded the Gilbert & Gaillard group which has since become an established brand recognised throughout the world. 

Gilbert & Gaillard founders Philippe Gaillard and François Gilbert.


The Gilbert & Gaillard International Challenge tastes and awards more than 10 000 wines per year. Tastings are conducted quarterly by a French tasting panel. This year saw several South African wines rising to prominence along with interesting new varietals and regions coming to the fore. 

Finding the best wines in the world

When word got out that one of the leading wine guides started doing special South African tastings with their international panel of judges, many Stellenbosch wineries decided to rise to the challenge by sending samples of their best wines to the Gilbert & Gaillard office in Stellenbosch. Tastings are conducted blind by a dedicated French panel, chaired by Philippe Gaillard, Francois Gilbert and Sylvain Patard.

SA wines generally proved to be very good value for money, especially now with the exchange rate, while the quality of our wines is comparable to some of the best in the world

Petru Venter – Gilbert & Gaillard

Results of the 2020 Gilbert & Gaillard International Challenge

This year, over 30 Stellenbosch wineries took part in the 1st quarter Gilbert & Gaillard International Challenge. The wines from the Stellenbosch area that gained outstanding results were Aaldering, Bottega Family Wines (Idiom and Whalehaven wines), L’Avenir (part of the AdVini group) and Tokara Wines. Stellenbosch wines with scores over 90:

  • Delheim Wines: Delheim Wines Grand Reserve 2015 – 96
  • Bottega Family Wines: Idiom Bordeaux Blend 2014 – 94
  • L‘Avenir Estate: L‘Avenir Provenance Chenin Blanc 2019 – 92
  • Man Vintners: Lievland Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 – 90
  • Aaldering Vineyards: Aaldering Estate Florence Winemakers Selection 2018 – 90
  • Tokara: Tokara Reserve Collection Syrah 2016 – 90

Franschhoek made a big impression with Chamonix and La Couronne taking the highest marks. Wines with scores over 90:

  • La Couronne Wine Estate: La Couronne Wine Estate Chardonnay 2019 – 92
  • Holden Manz Wine Estate: Holden Manz Wine Estate Chenin Blanc 2019 – 92
  • Chamonix: Chamonix Chardonnay 2018 – 92
  • La Couronne Wine Estate: Jacques Mouton Antoinette Chardonnay 2019 – 91
  • La Couronne Wine Estate: Jacques Mouton Antoinette Red Blend 2018 – 91
  • Holden Manz Wine Estate: Holden Manz Wine Estate Visionaire 2014 – 91
  • Chamonix: Chamonix Troika 2017 – 91

Paarl’s Avondale organic, biodynamic wines were found to be of top quality. The winery’s use of Qvevri (the first to do so in SA) and Amphora is a quality that is still somewhat unique to their wines and currently a rare approach to wine-making in South Africa. Ridgeback’s range of wines was well-represented, achieving very high marks for several of their wines. Wines with scores over 90:

  • Avondale Samsara: Syrah 2010 – 94
  • Avondale Camissa: Rose 2019 – 93
  • Man Vintners: Lievland Grenache 2018 – 93
  • Ridgeback Wines: Ridgeback African Amber 2015 – 92
  • Ridgeback Wines: Ridgeback Cabernet Franc 2016 – 92
  • Ridgeback Wines: Ridgeback Merlot 2016 – 92
  • Avondale: Jonty ‘s Ducks Pekin Red 2015 – 92
  • Ridgeback Wines: Ridgeback Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 – 91
  • Under Oaks: Under Oaks Malbec 2017 – 90
  • Under Oaks: Under Oaks Petite Syrah 2017 – 90
  • Under Oaks: Under Oaks Sauvignon Blanc 2019 – 90
  • Niel Joubert: Christine Mari MCC 2015 – 90



Click here to view the full results of the first tasting session of the Gilbert & Gaillard International Challenge completed on the 31st March 2020.

For more information on Gilbert & Gaillard contact Petru Venter (+27 82 787 1784) or petru@gilbertgaillard.com.