Wines from South Africa have grown in popularity, particularly within the last decade, and South Africa is now one of the top ten wine producing countries in the world. Along with this growth in popularity and production, South Africa is gaining recognition as a world-class wine producing country; however, prices on premium quality wines still remain low relative to the Bordeauxs, Burgundies, and Barolos of the world. In essence, if you are looking for excellently crafted wines that won’t damage your wallet, look no further than South Africa. Here, I want to provide a very brief introduction to South African wine, but look for more updates to come! All products mentioned in this post can be found through the links above and below.
Most of South Africa’s wine regions wrap around the southern part of the country with Cape Town being largely surrounded by South Africa’s great wine regions. Airflow from the locally named ‘Cape Doctor’ winds provide cool air from the Atlantic Ocean, which both keeps grapes cool enough to retain acidity as well as provides the vines with enough air to help prevent grape rotting and mildew. Chenin Blanc is South Africa’s most grown variety, although the country produces a number of world-class bottlings from Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Pinotage. Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault (once referred to as Hermitage in South Africa), and it was created at the University of Stellenbosch. Pinotage deserves a blog all its own, but what I want to emphasize here is the quality and character of Bordeaux and Burgundian style wines from South Africa.
Stellenbosch is a Cabernet epicenter for South Africa, and the wines such as Keermont’s 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon are a nice middle ground between the Cabs of Napa and of those of Bordeaux. The wine has great acidity and a mixture of red and dark fruits, but it also has a savory and herbal quality that can frequently be found in wines from the Left Bank of Bordeaux. Many of the wines from Stellenbosch also utilize a number of other varieties in their blends. World champion golfer and South African native, Ernie Els, produces a complex blend in his Cab-dominant “Proprietors Blend.” A classic Left Bank Bordeaux-style blend with the addition of Shiraz (Syrah), this rich yet elegant bottle has over 90 points from Wine & Spirits, Jeb Dunnuck, Tim Atkin, and Wine Enthusiast. For a Cabernet-based wine with a twist, we highly recommend this bottle. As a final note, we cannot forget Pinot Noir from South Africa. Elgin is a hub for Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir in the country, and the cooler temperatures in this area create great conditions for crisp high acid Pinots and Sauv. Blancs. A perfect example of this style of wine is Richard Kershaw’s “The Smuggler’s Boot” 2015 Pinot Noir. The grapes in this wine are handpicked, and there is very little oak influence on the wine, making this an excellent expression of South African Pinot. All of these wines are exclusively available at the Vienna Wine Outlet, and links are below!
As a final note (for now) on South African wine, the South African wine industry has been heavily impacted by Covid-19. Wineries were closed during the initial outbreak of the disease and then again a few weeks later after an increase in cases. According to Forbes, South Africa was the only country to prohibit the sale of alcohol, and exports were banned for five weeks. With new bottlings being shipped out of the country, we hope South Africa is able to fully continue its blossoming wine industry, despite the pandemic. We look forward to bringing you more information and wines from South Africa, and for now, please enjoy some of our newest bottles! Cheers!