Our South African friends have enjoyed relative obscurity when it comes to their wines. While no more remote than Australia, it seems very few people regularly enjoy a good glass of South African wine, or really even know they’re looking for.
While considered a ‘New World’ producer, the South Africans are no amateurs—in fact, they’ve been growing grapes since as long ago as 1655. And, the country’s unique climate helps shape a diverse range of flavors—long hot summers inland produce well-riped red grapes and high-alcohol wines, while the grapes on the Western Cape benefit from the cool sea breeze, leading to fresh, fruity wines that make for a great dinner companion.
If you’re keen to dig deeper, we’ve got some great South African wines in stock. Here’s the lowdown:
Here’s where South Africa shows that it can straddle the line between Old and New World wines. South African Sauvignon Blancs tend to lack the intensity of some of their cousins, but still have a delicious taste, ideal as a summer picnic tipple, or expertly paired with a white fish dish.
For a long while, South Africans thought they had their very own grape variety to boast about—even calling it ‘Steen’, before finding out they in fact just had Chenin Blanc. Today you’ll find Chenin Blanc on its own, or blended with other greats such as Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Grenache Blanc.
It’s often remarkably dry, but is occasionally found a little sweeter, something that really helps to enhance its aroma—typically yellow apple and jasmine.
This grape really is unique to South Africa, and one that has taken some time to reach acceptance among fans and Sommeliers. Once known for it’s off-putting aroma, it’s now better-known as a breakaway hit during wine tastings.
One thing working in its favor is that a good bottle of the stuff can be found at all price points, meaning you can enjoy its blackberry and black cherry flavors without breaking the bank.
Located just north of Cape Town is an area called Swartland, best-known for producing Shiraz wines—also known locally as Syrah—which combine the earthy tones that Old World wine fans adore, with hints of blackberry and blueberry that will impress more modern connoisseurs.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
As everyone knows, it can be difficult to find a good Chardonnay or Pinot Noir outside of France, as it requires quite a specific climate to thrive. However, Walker Bay in South Africa is one of a handful of places that have mastered the balance.
Local Chardonnays are known for their toasty flavor profiles, fruity notes and sharp mineral twists, while Pinot Noirs—somewhat hard to find but of excellent quality for those that succeed—have some of the most delightful aromas of all the countries’ wines and bold flavors like fresh strawberry, rose petal, and cinnamon.
We’ll certainly be buying a few bottles for ourselves this weekend and we hope you’ll join us!