South African wines offer impressively good value, and feature styles and tastes that are food friendly, blending elegance and power. South Africa has been producing wine since the first vines were planted in the 17th century, brought by the Dutch governors of Cape Colony. At one time, the sweet wine of Constantia was the most prized in the world.
The most important South African wine regions are around the two cities of Stellenbosch and Paarl. A range of wine styles are made, from stunning blockbuster reds to full bodied Chardonnay and crisp, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc. Chenin Blanc, also known as Steen, is the local white workhorse grape capable of making impressive dry and sweet wines. Pinotage, South Africa’s own red grape (a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault) still leaves wine critics divided, but can make great single-variety offerings as well as being a key component in Cape Blends. Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Bordeaux-style red blends are also among the country’s top reds.
We have thousands of South African wine reviews available in our Buying Guide. Search the South African wine guide to browse our South African wine ratings and discover all that this wonderful wine-producing region has to offer.
Made from 100% air dried Chenin Blanc, this is a remarkably well-balanced, knock-your-socks-off effort, loaded with lush, seductive notes of honey-drizzled apricot, peach preserves, baked apple, orange oil and honeycomb. It’s full and unctuous, but not flabby, with beautiful lifting acidity that keeps the palate fresh. The long, sticky finish boasts a gorgeous…— L.B. (12/31/2014)
A well-balanced, powerful dessert wine, this opens with an intense bouquet of fresh peach, orange blossom, jasmine, gardenia and honeysuckle. The mouthfilling, sweet palate is loaded with flavors of ripe stone fruit, mango, melon and orange marmelade, but is kept bright by refreshing acidity on the close. Secondary notes of ginger and white tea linger long on the…— L.B. (7/1/2014)
This was the first Bordeaux blend from the Cape, and remains one of the very best. This 2004 is stylish, very Bordeaux in its structure, yet shows a richness of fruit that Bordeaux can only envy. Black currants, dry tannins and a sense of great ageability—they are all there.— R.V. (11/1/2006)
All the Bordeaux grapes are here, making this one of the most complete Bordeaux blends from South Africa. They go with the golfing legend of owner Ernie Els and the winemaking skills of Louis Strydom of Rust en Vrede to produce a very impressively elegant wine, which has delicious mint and smooth black fruit flavors over layers of dark tannins. Great aging…— R.V. (11/1/2006)
A blend of 28% Cabernet Franc, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Malbec, 18% Petit Verdot and 10% Merlot, this is a big, bold and powerful wine, with superb balance and a firm, concentrated structure that promises great long-term aging. Dense aromas and flavors of blackberry, boysenberry, cherry and fig are layered with notes of cocoa powder, roasted espresso bean and…— L.B. (12/1/2015)
Bold, dark and concentrated, this blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Malbec, 10% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 9% Petit Verdot still shows some youthful restraint on the nose and palate, suggesting this is a wine best enjoyed after 2018 and through 2024. Seductive notes of toasted oak, cocoa nib, licorice and Thin Mint kiss the black-fruit core of boysenberry…— L.B. (12/1/2015)
A blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Malbec, 19% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Franc, spicy aromas of leather, black pepper, savory herbs, licorice and Mexican chocolate lead the nose. It’s grounded by a solid fruit core of blackberry, boysenberry and mulberry fruit, lending a supporting spine to the toasted spice and earthy accents. Well balanced, with velvety tannins…— L.B. (12/1/2015)
This world-class blend of 52% Cabernet Franc, 20% Malbec, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot is concentrated, structured and powerful, with the promise of a long life ahead. Earthy, herbal streaks of cigar box, licorice root, char and minty fynbos frame the lush fruit core of muddled boysenberry, black raspberry, plum and currant. The palate is…— L.B. (12/1/2015)