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.
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This luminous and unique Chenin Blanc straw wine is a real stunner, showing an upfront and approachable character as well as hidden layers of nuanced herbs and the potential to develop additional complexities with time. Heady notes of toasted brioche, dried apricot, gingered orange peel and baking spice abound throughout, with great richness and a lush texture in…
This stunning wine is still quite young and shut-down on the nose, taking its time in the glass to truly begin to open up. Once it does, scents of licorice root, chicory, cassis and black plum fill the bouquet. The mouthfeel is bold and powerful, with gripping tannins that coat the palate and support the dense black-fruit core. Accents of black-tea leaves and sweet…
Plum, blackberry and blueberry on the nose start this iconic South African blend. On the palate, smooth elegant flavors of plum, nutmeg spice, violet and blueberry reign. The wine unfolds over time, finishing soft and luscious.
Butterscotch, honeyed almonds and candied ginger-orange peel lead the way on the nose of this late harvest Muscat. Rich, overripe mango and honeydew add levity to the palate, lifting the heady spice and viscous, syrupy flavors. The long finish carries a tinge of pithiness, adding some tongue-smacking texture to the close. Has aging potential, though it’s certainly…
A stunning wine loaded with nuance and complexity, Fusion V is a blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 12% Malbec, 7% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. Spicy accents of leather, tobacco and cured meat add intrigue to the dark fruit core, while pepper and sweet licorice spice infuse the long finish. It’s textured like crushed velvet with a firm structure of…
Exuding style and power, this Chardonnay shows complexity with great depth—and breadth—of aromas and flavors. Tropical fruit, citrus, butterscotch, toasted oak and spice are beautifully melded together to achieve a harmonious whole. Near-perfect fruit/acid balance, a supple mouthfeel, and a superlong finish displaying orange and toast notes wrap it up.
Produced from the cool vineyards at the southern tip of Africa, Hamilton Russell’s Chardonnays are world-class wines, fine examples of French winemaking in a South African context. This 2000 is one of the estate’s finest to date, a melange of lemon and nuts, mingled with smoky wood flavors, with a layer of acidity and structure that give it great aging ability.
91% Cabernet Sauvignon, plus Merlot and Cabernet Franc, Vergelegen’s ultrapremium cuvée is tightly structured, harmoniously balanced, and built to age, although it has a greener flavor profile than many modern wines—bell pepper and bramble aromas and green bean flavors—there is still plenty of underlying cassis, tobacco and chocolate to make this a keeper. Polished…