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_382759Bottle Size: 750mlCartology is a cuvee that is composed of rare and extraordinary parcels of mature dryland bush vines. The wine is alive and vibrant. Obviously it's just a baby, but so far has a nose of lime, fennel and quince. The palate is taught, very fine and balanced, with excellent structure and a persistent finish.
- Item #: i_383401Bottle Size: 750mlFrom Jancis Robinson's website: Nuttiness and warm cobnuts and roasted cumin on the nose overlaying the sweetness of fruit on the palate. Sage and peaches, mid-summer apricots just picked. Wonderful grip and texture, taut. Plays like a Paganini violin solo. Hauntingly!
- Item #: i_383975Bottle Size: 750mlDecanter: 95 PointsDECANTER 95 POINTS - "An utterly delicious Cinsault from Swartland pioneer and champion of the Cinsault revival in South Africa, Andre Adrian (Adi) Badenhorst. The Ramnasgras comes from a small vineyard on the estate, planted in the mid 50’s, and is the product of meticulous hand selection, fermentation in ‘dodgy old wooden vats’ and maturation in ‘less dodgy foudre for 12 months’. Such is Adi’s way, the wine is made with minimal intervention in the vineyard and winery and is a true reflection of the vintage conditions and Swartland terroir. This is full of red berries and perfumed floral notes with a mineral edge. A small production of 3,500 bottles, so worth seeking out and stocking-up if you can. Was enjoyed as an accompaniment to the tasting menu at Luke Dale-Roberts’ Roundhouse restaurant Salsify in Camps Bay, Cape Town." Drinking Window 2019 - 2029
- Item #: i_377598Bottle Size: 750mlA perfect example of elegance and finesse in Pinotage. Red berries, plums and cherries on the nose, followed by a palate of excellent balance, structure and a lovely dry finish. Matches very well with bobotie, game and curries, spare ribs and pepper steak, or try snoek and grape jam.
- Item #: i_382363Bottle Size: 750mlWinemaker's Notes: "It has an intense ruby red color, with plum cake, red fruit, and dark chocolate aromas, offering savory finish on the palate. The first sorting was done in the vineyards. The perfect bunches were transported in bins to the winery, destemned, sorted and 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 15 French oak, and 300 liter American oak barrels. The wine matured for 19 months in the barrels."
- Item #: i_308006Bottle Size: 750MLWINE & SPIRITS 94 POINTS - "Since 2015, this blend has been sourced entirely from Swartland-grown fruit; this vintage leans heavily on syrah from the Porseleinberg and Goldmine vineyards (the same that contributed to Boekenhoutskloof’s terrific 2016 Syrah, also recommended in this issue). Grenache, cabernet sauvignon, cinsault and viognier make up 11 percent of the blend. The texture alone sets the wine apart, the firm, round tannins giving the wine the smooth, weightless heft of velvet; the flavors may go deep on dark fruit, but they expand to touch on notes of grilled plums, cocoa, violets and olive brine that arouse hunger. It is, in short, extremely delicious. You could open it now, or hold it another decade."
- Item #: i_380118Bottle Size: 750MLDecanter: 91 PointsWine Enthusiast: 92 PointsDECANTER 91 POINTS - Complex and aromatic yet subtle, with an inviting minty brightness on the nose leading to a fine-boned, sleek palate boasting garrigue spice, rewarding acidity and a long, savoury finish."
Classical Boekenhoutskloof complexity with exceptional purity. At first there is overwhelming blackcurrant and cassis on the nose with underlying cedar and spices. The palate shows intense black fruit, prunes and sour cherries with perfect balance. This wine will improve over the next decade.
- Item #: i_382354Bottle Size: 750mlLong referred to as "Bayten" by locals, Buitenverwachting (meaning beyond expectations) is located on the east-facing slopes of the Constantiaberg on the Cape of Good Hope. Ocean breezes make this area one of South Africa's coolest winegrowing areas, allowing for slow ripening, resulting in grapes that achieve full ripeness while retaining fresh acidity. This wine was aged on the lees for three months prior to bottling. Bayten offers a melange of citrus and stone fruits with honeysuckle, jasmine and green notes on the nose. The palate reveals peaches, apricots, lemon rind and lemongrass with a nice balance of richness and refreshing crispness on the finish.
- Item #: i_383404Bottle Size: 750mlCap Maritime is a new project from Marc Kent, the chief winemaker from Boekenhoutskloof. Marc has always considered the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley one of the most exciting places to grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in South Africa. Cap Maritime, alongside the other Boekenhoutskloof brands, captures the essence of its terroir of origin while representing the style of wine to which Marc Kent aspires. Marc Kent is the driving force behind the dynamic farm. A maverick spirit, he is unafraid to experiment with the unconventional, but his principal commitment is to quality on every level and in every detail. The Cap Maritime Chardonnay is overtly mineral and stony with layers of limestone, crushed rocks and wet river pebble nuances melting into a melange of yellow citrus, white blossom, grape jelly, green melon preserve and the most subtle kiss of French oak spice. The palate displays a full plump mouthful with hints of ginger bread, grapefruit peel, wet chalk, green honeydew melon, pithy apple skins and a complex vanilla pod spice finish. Seamless and fresh with a harmonious texture from start to finish.
- Item #: i_387949Bottle Size: 750mlThis is sourced from old vine Chenin planted on its original rootstock or makstok from a ?rescue block? at 520 metres on a cooler south-facing vineyard on the Skurfberg. Even though Chris has been able to add a second parcel from the same site this year (a third segment still gets delivered to the local co-operative), it still represents a total of just nine barrels in the cellar.
- Item #: i_377711Bottle Size: 750mlWine Enthusiast: 94 PointsTIM ATKIN 93 POINTS - "As its name makes clear, Fusion V combines the five Bordeaux varieties, with Cabernet Sauvignon dominating the blend with 51%. It’s a perfumed, sweetly oaked style with fine tannins, supple tannins and a smooth, caressing palate. 2019-25."
- Item #: i_382440Bottle Size: 750mlWine Spectator: 93WINE SPECTATOR 93 POINTS - "Very enticing, with creamy green and yellow apple, pear and melon flavors laced with verbena and honeysuckle notes, kissed elegantly by a sweetened butter hint through the finish. This is why people love Chardonnay. Drink now through 2021."
- Item #: i_382692Bottle Size: 750mlWine Spectator: 94WINE SPECTATOR 94 POINTS - "This sports a core of dark plum and blackberry paste flavors, staying polished and refined in feel, relying more on acidity than tannins, with the structure fully enmeshed in the fruit. Black tea, tobacco and alder hints chime through the finish. Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Tinta Barroca, Cinsault and Carignan. Best from 2019 through 2023. 790 cases made."
- Item #: i_382425Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 94WINE SPECTATOR 94 POINTS - "Opulent, lush and creamy in feel, this lets lemon curd, glazed peach and creamed pear and yellow apple flavors drape over the palate, while light verbena, shortbread and honeysuckle notes give this just the requisite lift and energy for balance. A long heather echo completes the seduction. A hedonistic delight. Drink now through 2023. 130 cases imported."
- Item #: i_383949Bottle Size: 750mlANTONIO GALLONI; VINOUS 97 POINTS - The 2017 Mev. Kirsten is pure Chenin Blanc from the oldest Chenin Blanc in South Africa, planted in 1905. It has a very intense bouquet of yellow stone fruit, chamomile and touches of orange blossom. The harmonious, beautifully defined palate offers perfect acidity and flavors of orange peel, ginger, fynbos, white peach and, again, a hint of chamomile that lingers beautifully in the mouth. This is another stunning white from Eben Sadie, one of the best wines he’s ever made - and he’s made a lot.
Grapes for the Mev. Kirsten are from a decomposed granite vineyard (planted 1905-1920s) at the foot of Bothmaskop Mountain in Stellenbosch's Jonkershoek Valley, with an avg yield of 7 hl/ha. The mere one ha of vines belonging to Mrs. Kirsten and her family is recognized as the oldest Chenin Blanc in South Africa.
Naturally fermented with wild yeasts in old wooden foudres. This is Chenin Blanc in an older school of expression and more eccentric of nature, with more tropical and big ripe stone fruit aromas. It has an amazing texture, lingers beautifully in the mouth.
- 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_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_380221Bottle Size: 750mlThe Big Easy epitomizes and reflects Ernie’s manner; big in stature, gentle in character. A full-bodied yet accessible, Mediterranean-style blend that is built around the bold structure of Shiraz (55%)and Cabernet Sauvignon (20%). Complimented by an easy follow through from the Grenache (10%), Mourvedre (10%) and Viognier (5%).
The nose starts with smokiness and charcuterie quickly joined by dark berry and cassis scents. In the mouth, rich, lush fruit (berries and cherries) play off violet florals, cooking spices and supple tannins. This is easy-drinking, tasty wine ideal for lazy Saturdays, fall barbecues or sporting events (tailgate or tube).
- 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_378104Bottle Size: 750mlThis iconic Chenin is a benchmark South African bottling, and what Ken Forrester considers to be the ultimate expression of the Chenin Blanc grape.
The grapes are grown in Ken Forrester’s estate vineyards at the foot of the Helderberg in Stellenbosch.
The vineyards are farmed organically, and everything is done by hand. Grapes for the FMC are hand selected from a single block of low yielding Chenin bush vines planted in 1974. Each vine is pruned to 5 or 6 shoots, with 1 bunch per shoot. They are planted in Clovelly — a deep yellow sandy soil — on south-southwest-facing slopes. .