South African wine has a history dating back to 1659 with Constantia, a vineyard near Cape Town, being considered one of the greatest wines in the world. Access to international markets has unleashed a burst of new energy and new investment. Production is concentrated around Cape Town, with major vineyard and production centers at Paarl, Stellenbosch and Worcester. There are about 60 appellations within the Wine of Origin (WO) system, which was implemented in 1973 with a hierarchy of designated production regions, districts and wards. WO wines must be made 100% from grapes from the designated area. "Single vineyard" wines must come from a defined area of less than 5 hectares. An "Estate Wine" can come from adjacent farms, as long as they are farmed together and wine is produced on site. A ward is an area with a distinctive soil type or climate, and is roughly equivalent to a European appellation. The grape varieties in South Africa are known as cultivar, with many common international varieties.
- Item #: i_383467Bottle Size: 750mlThe vines for the "Raaigras" were planted in 1952, which make them "old," yielding a small number of bunches but with concentrated flavors. Aged in large, fairly neutral oak. Mid-bodied with moderate acidity, it's a beautiful expression of the variety.
- Item #: i_382363Bottle Size: 750ml"Pinotage genius Abrie Beeslaar shows all his understanding of this tricky grape.” —Tim Atkin, M.W.
Winemaker's Notes: "It has an intense ruby red color, with plum cake, red fruit, and dark chocolate aromas, offering savory finish on the palate.
Fermented in 5 ton open fermentors. The cap was punched every 2 hours for 60 hours until the right extraction was achieved. After pressing, malolactic fermentation was done in 250L French oak, and 300L American oak barrels. The wine matured for 19 months in the barrels."
- Item #: i_308006Bottle Size: 750MLVINOUS 92 POINTS - " The 2018 The Chocolate Block is sourced from the Goldmine and Porseleinberg farms, the Cabernet originating from Voor-Paaderberg, and matured for 16 months in used oak barrels. It offers generous black plum and black currant aromas, pressed rose petals and a touch of menthol. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannins, and much more structured than the vintages of old (as I have pointed out in previous reviews), displaying fennel, bay leaf and white pepper toward the finish. This feels long in the mouth. A classy Chocolate Block that treads a fine line between commercial and intellectual appeal."
A top South African red wine here from Boekenhoutskloof. The Chocolate Block is made with a blend of wine types, predominantly Syrah supported by Grenache, Cinault, Cabernet Sauvignon and Viognier. It spends over a year rest in French oak before being bottled up and shipped around the globe for wine enthusiasts that love a rich, chocolatey red.
- Item #: i_377711Bottle Size: 750mlDecanter: 9452% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Malbec, 14% Cabernet Franc, 11% Merlot, and 7% Petit Verdot
TIM ATKIN, MW 95 POINTS
DECANTER 94 POINTS - "Showcasing the Cape’s ability to turn out great Left Bank-style blends is this Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant wine from Stellenbosch’s De Toren Private Cellar. Fusion V, the boutique winery’s flagship label, takes its name for its selection of the best of Bordeaux’s ‘noble 5’ grape varieties that comprise the blend...A rich and concentrated wine filled with mixed red and black berries, hints of dark chocolate and an oak-spiciness around the edges. It has a lovely smooth texture and is extremely drinkable. "
De Toren suggests pairing with "tender grilled or roast lamb, with garlic, rosemary, and a hint of honey lemon."
- Item #: i_383244Bottle Size: 750mlWine Enthusiast: 91WINE ENTHUSIAST 91 POINTS - "There's a soft toasted-brioche note on the top of this wine's nose, with additional hints of peach skin, lightly grilled apple and orange peel. The palate is light and bright, with fresh citrus and orchard-fruit flavors enlivened by vibrant acidity and a mouthwatering sensation that carries through to the medium-length finish."
- Item #: i_380604Bottle Size: 750ml65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, 11% Petit Verdot, 8% Merlot & 3% Malbec
This is a model South African 'Bordeaux blend,' with a fresh acidity (classic to cooler climate Cabernets) that balances the intense and fleshed-out flavors of cassis, blackberry, baking spice, and licorice. Aged in 50% new French oak for 16 months. A perfect partner for grilled dishes, or a roasted lamb shoulder chop with fennel.
- Item #: i_382192Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 93In the late 19th century, and much of the 20th, Cinsaut was the workhorse red variety that played an undeclared role in some great red blends. It was an obvious candidate for inclusion in the Old Vine Series, although it poses many quality problems in the vineyard as well as the cellar, including the difficulty of keeping yields down and attaining perfect ripeness, plus its very oxidative character. There were five vineyards considered—but it became clear that the block on the Riebeek Mountain in the Swartland was far above the rest in quality (the snakelike form of the mountain gave the wine its name). After picking, careful sorting is vital to get rid of both under-ripe and over-ripe berries. The whole clusters are then placed in an old wooden open-top fermenter, with one or two punch-downs by foot each day to slowly release juice for fermentation. After a month on the skins the grapes are transferred by hand into a tiny basket press and pressed directly to an old wooden cask. The wine is bottled after a year or so, to retain the fruit and elegance of the wine and avoid any premature oxidation character.
- Item #: i_382471Bottle Size: 750mlThe Soldaat comes from vineyards in the Piekenierskloof. The unirrigated vineyard was planted in the mid 1960s at around 708 meters of altitude in decomposed granite soil with a slight easterly slope. The most planted red grape variety in the world is Grenache Noir. It has had a long standing position in South Africa, but it is very site specific. The Piekenierskloof Pass, going north to Citrusdal, has firmly positioned itself as the leading location for Grenache. It got its name from foot soldiers (piekeniers) located at the top of the mountain to protect livestock from theft, hence being named Soldaat (Soldier). Naturally fermented with wild yeasts. Fermented and aged in concrete vessels.
TIM ATKIN, SOUTH AFRICA SPECIAL REPORT 93 POINTS
- Item #: i_382473Bottle Size: 750mlThis wine blends Chenin Blanc from old bushvine parcels on three farms on the slopes of the Skurfberg ("rugged mountains") between Clanwilliam and Lamberts Bay in the Olifants River Region. They are immaculately farmed properties, which have not been subjected to herbicide or chemical fertilizers by the current farmers. Most of the soils in the area are of decomposed sandstone, and very sandy. Rainfall is low - these vines have had to be tough to survive without irrigation. Together these three low yielding parcels represent the possibilities of the area, each offering something unique to the complexity of the whole. The one site has huge and aromatic fruit concentration; the second offers an earthy character and minerality, and the third (the highest, and closest to the Atlantic) retains amazing acidity and freshness. The three parcels of fruit were vinified separately. They were basket-pressed and then transferred directly to old casks where natural fermentation took place. We blended them after 12 months, and then left them to age another six months before bottling.
- Item #: i_381019Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 92Wine Spectator: 93WINE SPECTATOR 93 POINTS - "A dark, alluring style, with gunpowder tea and warm ganache notes underscoring the core of steeped red and black currant fruit. Features a singed cedar and alder frame, accented by a tobacco hint. Should open up nicely in the cellar. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2017 through 2022."
WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - "The 2012 Signature is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 5% each of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot; it has a very pure bouquet with cedar-infused blackberry and strawberry fruit. With further investigation, there are touches of incense and cassis, the latter from the Petit Verdot. The palate is smooth and sensual on the entry, just a hint of chocolate (though there is no American oak), with very good depth and it fans out nicely on the finish. It has a hedonistic bent for sure, but Louis Strydom is a skilled winemaker and he pulls it off here, as he has done in previous vintages."
- Item #: i_376021Bottle Size: 750mlTop-notch Cabernet for $6.99? You bet! The wine proffers gobs of gorgeous, up-front fruit capturing lush vectors of ripe plum, black cherry, boysenberry and black currant fruit deftly accented with sundry hints of spice, carob and espresso. The wine's bright fruit is clearly the star of the show. And while Excelsior's finish showcases just a bit of this wine nation's unique volcanic soil, we think you'll agree that Excelsior could easily have emanated from such familiar locales as Napa or Bordeaux. The beauty of the bottle is the price as we don't often see wines of this quality from either of these renowned regions coming in at the sub-$10 niveau.
- Item #: i_380928Bottle Size: 750MLBright lime green hue. Hints of peach, marmalade and orange blossom on the nose. Green apple fruit flavours on a full creamy palate. Calling Card: Only very lightly oaked for everyday drinking. This wine is perfect with grilled seafood, or lightly spiced Thai chicken.
- Item #: i_378947Bottle Size: 750mlWINE ENTHUSIAST BEST BUY - "There's a strong green, herbal edge to the nose of this refreshing white, expressed in waves of lime peel, peppery herbs and green bean. The lightweight and direct palate offers pithy citrus tones that lend a pleasant astringency to the tart finish. Enjoy now."
- Item #: i_382559Bottle Size: 750mlDecanter: 93DECANTER 93 POINTS - "A very fine Chardonnay produced in difficult circumstances given the fire/smoke issues in the Western Cape. Unlike the Pinot Noir, this has been produced with 100% estate fruit and is very successful. Bunches were pressed whole (rather than de-stemmed) to reduce any smoke taint risks. Very crisp on the palate with fine acidity and a touch of stoned fruit, this is concentrated, mineral and elegant. Very youthful, ideally give this another 12 months to blossom a bit more [try in 2021]."
- Item #: i_377599Bottle Size: 750ml"Our low-vigour, stony, clay-rich soil, cool maritime mesoclimate, naturally tiny yields of well under 35 hl/ha and our philosophy of expressing our terroir in our wines – give rise to a certain tightness, tannin line and elevated length to balance the richness and generosity of our Pinot noir. Our Pinot noir is not overtly fruity, soft and "sweet" and it generally shows hints of that alluring savoury "primal" character along with a dark, spicy, complex primary fruit perfume."
Aged 10 months in mostly lightly toasted French oak, about 1/3 new.
- Item #: i_380949Bottle Size: 750mlJam Jar Sweet Shiraz is packed with fresh, juicy flavors of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries with dark chocolate undertones. Striking a perfect balance between sweetness and acidity, this refreshing and approachable wine is great to sip on its own and matches up equally well with meat dishes, cheeses, and desserts.
- Item #: i_377342Bottle Size: 750MLJames Suckling: 93TIM ATKIN 94 POINTS - "Still youthful and showing its 80% new wood, this is a very ambitious Pinotage from a fantastic Cape red wine vintage, exhibiting considerable colour, structure and concentration, fine-boned tannins and layers of raspberry and black cherry fruit. Give it time."
JAMES SUCKLING 93 POINTS
Kanonkop Estate is situated on the lower slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain in the Stellenbosch Region of the Cape and confidently boasts with some of South Africa’s most premium wines.
A complex wine with red fruit flavours. Big, elegant and ripe tannin structures. Will over time show more secondary and forest floor characteristics.
- Item #: i_377339Bottle Size: 750ML37% Pinotage, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc
Kanonkop's widely-produced "emissary of South African wine" is straightforward and highly drinkable, with blackcurrant and tealeaves on the nose and palate, with just a subtle savory sensation from the skins. Round and soft, with a refreshing acidity to carry it along.
TIM ATKIN, MW 91 POINTS
- Item #: i_383143Bottle Size: 750ml39% Chenin Blanc, 34% Sauvignon blanc, 14% Viognier and 13% Chardonnay
INTERNATIONAL WINE REVIEW 91 POINTS - "Always a crowd pleaser, the Terrasse shows very appealing white stone fruit, lemon curd and floral scents. Softly textured with good backbone and firm acidity complementing riper stone fruit and citrus flavor...fermented and aged in used 500L barrels for 12 months. Lees stirred only during fermentation then left to sit on the lees.13% alc."
VINOUS 90 POINTS
- Item #: i_382627Bottle Size: 500mlDeeply complex and robust, the nose is layered with Seville orange marmalade, honeysuckle and ginger. Unctuously full bodied with intense flavours ranging from dried mango to fresh vanilla and lively citrus zest. These allow for the perfect balance on the palate, showing restrained concentration with a pithy astringency and a mouth-watering finish.
- Item #: i_383941Bottle Size: 750mlThis wine shows off the versatility of old vine Chenin Blanc, upon which South Africa has built a strong reputation. It is a blend of two neighboring old-vine, dry-farmed bushvine vineyards, one planted in 1976 and the other in 1983, with the first giving more stone fruit and mineral characters, the latter giving concentration and texture.