About South African Wine

About South African Wine
South Africa is one of the most intriguing wine countries in the world. Tucked away in the far southwestern corner of the African continent, it is a thriving wine region that remains a mystery to most consumers. Viticulture began here in the 1600s, when Dutch settlers planted vines; today producers work with international varieties and the latest technology to create excellent versions of Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage, the country's signature variety.

South Africa is the ninth largest wine-producing nation in the world; much of the production is situated in the Western Cape region, in the southwest near Cape Town. Maritime influences are ideal for white varieties, and indeed, Sauvignon Blanc is the leading planted variety in the country, followed by Chardonnay and then Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage and Chenin Blanc. The Chenin Blancs offer great varietal purity and are made in a dry to off-dry style. Sauvignon Blancs, especially those from the Western Cape or Stellenbosch areas, offering excellent varietal focus and impressive structure, have been critically praised. Pinotage, a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut, is made into a range of styles from light, sipping wine to more full-bodied. A total of 250,00 acres of vines are planted in South Africa, with the majority of wine being produced by cooperatives.

Top Picks for South Africa

Avondale 2007 La Luna Red Blend Estate Paarl
91 points
$45
Garnet black color. Smoky, complex aromas of smoked plum, grilled meats, sundried heirloom tomatoes, and roasted beets with a satiny, crisp, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a warming, complex, medium-length caramelized shitake mushrooms, mesquite, brandy soaked cherries, toasted almonds, and cocoa nibs finish with medium tannins and moderate oak flavor. A smoky, terroir-driven Bordeaux Varietal Blend to show off to your guests at your next barbecue.
Margaret 2017  Pinotage
90 points
$8.99
Best Buy
Indigo color. Fruity, roasted aromas and flavors of dark chocolate, dark roasted nuts, and warm crusty blackberry pie with a supple, lively, fruity medium-to-full body and a smooth, interesting, medium-length finish conveying touches of blueberry pie a la mode, praline, spiced cherries, and lava stone with chewy, well-integrated tannins and light oak flavor. A rock solid Pinotage with bright fruit, delicate smoke, and a nice sense of place.
90 points $8.99 Best Buy
Avondale 2015 Amina Estate Chenin Blanc
89 points
$27
Golden straw color. Tropical aromas and flavors of golden apples, ripe kiwi, papaya pastry, bruleed lemon, and coconut-almond with a silky, crisp, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a tingling, interesting, medium-length finish with impressions of candied macadamia, white flowers, and ground ginger with light oak flavor. A tropical and toasty Chenin Blanc with cheery spice.
Smate 2018  Shiraz
88 points
$15
Best Buy
Violet color. Baked aromas of blackberry coulis, baked orange, and dill with a satiny, vibrant, fruity medium-full body and a warming, crisp creme fraiche and blackberry cobbler finish with moderate oak flavor. A silky shiraz that will play great at the table.
88 points $15 Best Buy
Stellar Organics 2018  Shiraz
88 points
$9.99
Best Buy
Deep purple color. Interesting, curious aromas of single malt whiskey, mesquite, heather and honey, roasted agave, chocolate drizzled poached pear, and toffee coated walnut with a slightly chewy, crisp, fruity medium-full body and a polished, compelling, medium-length mole, sweet potato pie, and nougat finish with well-integrated, chewy tannins and moderate oak flavor. An off-the-wall Shiraz that will surprise and delight your guests.
88 points $9.99 Best Buy
Nine Fields 2018  Chenin Blanc
87 points
$9.99
Best Buy
Silvery emerald straw color. Aromas of wool, flamed lemon zest, and sesame with a bright, dry medium body and a relaxed lemon bar, yellow flowers, and sesame oil finish. A savory and distinct South African Chenin for spicing up a weekday dinner party.
87 points $9.99 Best Buy
Nine Fields 2017  Merlot
87 points
$9.99
Best Buy
Ruby black color. Aromas and flavors of volcanic rock, charred and grilled meats and root vegetables, and wild berries with a vibrant, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and an engaging, medium-long finish manifesting accents of cranberry relish, pickled beets, and hint of ash with dusty, woody tannins. A fun, smoky merlot that will be great with grilled fare, especially game.
87 points $9.99 Best Buy
Nine Fields 2017  Chardonnay
87 points
$9.99
Best Buy
Golden straw color. Fruity aromas and flavors of lime, orange creamsicle, and mango lassi with a velvety, crisp, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a warming, relaxed finish with accents of gravel with a suggestion of oak flavor. A food-friendly chardonnay in an understated style.
87 points $9.99 Best Buy
Smate 2018  Pinotage
87 points
$15
Best Buy
Violet color. Roasted aromas and flavors of dark chocolate espresso beans and cherries and grilled zucchini bread with a silky, crisp, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a delightful, medium-long finish with notes of spicy cherry berry compote, pencil shavings, and honeycomb with well-integrated, chewy tannins and a suggestion of oak flavor. A chewy, lightly smoky and spicy pinot noir that will pair nicely with ethnic cuisine.
87 points $15 Best Buy
Stellar Organics 2018  Cabernet Sauvignon
87 points
$9.99
Best Buy
Brilliant black violet color. Aromas of blueberry compote, grilled red apples, sweet mint, tar, crushed juniper in dark chocolate, and green peppercorns with a slightly chewy, vibrant, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a warming, interesting, snappy blackberry, black licorice, and melba toast finish with silky tannins and moderate oak flavor. A tasty and satisfying cabernet with great versatility.
87 points $9.99 Best Buy