South Africa has been making wines since the 1600s but it wasn’t until more than a few hundred years later (1990s) after Apartheid ended and the export market opened up to South African goods that South African wines began to garner an international presence.
Despite the early days of South African wine imports which brought cheap and relatively low quality wines into the United States, the wines being made in and exported from South Africa have since shown a continued increase in quality and diversity as well as garnered significant international acclaim.
South Africa’s wine industry is distributed around the lush, rugged landscape of the Western Cape where, the abundance of mountains, valleys and plateaus allow winemakers to produce a diverse range of styles from many different grapes, some seen nowhere else in the world of wine.
We’ve dedicated the month of June to bringing more attention to the amazing wines of South Africa.
Below are just a few of our current favorites (which can be found at our SouthPark or Dilworth stores!):
Beaumont Family Wines Chenin Blanc
Great Chenin blanc is possible the only “noble” grape variety to be equally outstanding in dry, off-dry and sweet iterations. It’s that friend who (maddeningly) looks great in any outfit, in any lighting. At Beaumont you can expect a vibrant and clear core of yellow plums, bosc pear and lemon zest. Refreshing and deeply-complex, excellent food wine for anything with similar citrus or herbal notes.
de Wetshof Estate Chardonnay “Limestone Hill”
If we were to sit down and describe delicious chardonnay in all its complexity and then cut the price in half we still wouldn’t come up with the quality/price ratio in de Wetshof. The depth of tropical fruit with balanced, nervy minerality is just ridiculous. If you like oaked Chardonnay from California then you’ll love this wine; equally if you love racy, Grand Cru Chablis then you’ll also love this wine.
There’s only one Pinotage that you’ll always find at Foxcroft: Kanonkop. Hands down, for us, the most balanced and elegant version of this tricky grape. Time spent in French oak has softened and brightened the savory fruit of this wine, without obscuring the brambly smoke of this unique grape. If you love bold, garrigue -scented Rhône reds then this is a discovery you’ll love.
Raats Family “Red Jasper” Red Blend
The qualitative revolution raising all boats in South Africa has been driven, in no small part, by amazing family producers. And truly one of our favorites is Raats Family, led by Gavin & Bruwer Raats. Their focus is a fanatical devotion to Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc, drawing inspiration from France’s Loire Valley. You’ll find admirable depth and a lovely spiciness that changes in the glass. An amazing value of a wine and perfect for summer grill season.
Rudi Schultz Syrah
The youthful vitality of winemakers like Rudi Schultz is exactly what the country needed to step up its game on a world stage. There are about 1000 cases made annually of this delicious Syrah from a vineyard in Botterlay in the north west corner of Stellenbosch. This is Rhône-inspired Syrah (easy to remember since mostly this grape is known as Shiraz in South Africa, hinting at it’s arrival by way of Australia) with all the savory, pepper and olive notes we love. There’s ample, crunchy black fruit and a dollop of smoke to tie it all together.