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

Braai 2015  Cabernet Sauvignon
93 points
$16.99
Best Buy
Nearly opaque garnet black color. Aromas and flavors of dark chocolate and toasted coconut with an vibrant, fruity medium-full body and an intricate, long blackberry preserve, bramble thicket, and peppery spice finish with chewy, earthy, silky tannins and moderate oak. A regal Bordeaux style blend from the Western cape; lay some down for later if you can resist not drinking it now.
Awards: 2017 Best South African Red Wine
93 points $16.99 Best Buy
Leopard Frog 2006 "Tantra" Stellenbosch
93 points
$19.95
Best Buy
Dull nearly opaque ruby black color. Interesting, meaty aromas and flavors of dark roasted nuts, tobacco, beef bouillon, and dried mulberry with a silky, tangy, dryish medium body and a seamless, involved, medium-long chocolate craisins, blueberries and nuts, berry vinaigrette, pickled root vegetables, and cacao nibs finish with well-integrated, chewy tannins and moderate oak. A rich, meaty, mature red blend that will pair brilliantly.
93 points $19.95 Best Buy
Arabella 2017  Sauvignon Blanc
92 points
$9.99
Best Buy
Bright pale yellow straw color. Tropical aromas and flavors of fruit salad, banana soufflé, and guava with a silky, tangy, fruity medium body and a smooth, distinctive, medium-long mango-apple relish, grapefruit, and coconut milk finish with fine, crunchy, fruit tannins and no oak. A juicy, tropical sauvignon blanc with zesty fruit and mouthwatering acidity.
Awards: 2017 Best South African White Wine
92 points $9.99 Best Buy
Leopard Frog 2007 "Tribe" Stellenbosch
92 points
$19.95
Best Buy
Dull ruby black color. Interesting, mature aromas and flavors of butter roasted nuts, grilled berries and apples, chestnut honey, and tamari with a supple, bright, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a silky, delightful, medium-length dried blueberries and mulberries and pomegranate and clementine finish with fine tannins and a suggestion of oak. A mature, lively and elegant pinotage blend that will be great at the table.
92 points $19.95 Best Buy
Leopard Frog 2006 "Kiss & Tell" Stellenbosch
92 points
$19.95
Best Buy
Dull dark nearly opaque brick color. Spicy, interesting aromas and flavors of raisin chutney, peppered jerky, chocolate toffee, and bbq rub and chips with a satiny, vibrant, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a silky, delightful, spiced sour cherries, honeyed citrus and melon, vanilla nut brittle, and dusty oak and earth finish with light oak. A very supple and elegantly spicy red blend.
92 points $19.95 Best Buy
Sonance NV  Pinot Grigio
91 points
$9.95
Best Buy
Pale straw color. Fresh aromas and flavors of honeysuckle and lemon zest with a satiny, vibrant, fruity light body and a complex, breezy dried apricot and mango, starfruit, sage, and limestone and diesel finish with fine, fruit tannins and no oak. A snappy and silky Pinot Grigio with complex minerality not unlike a fine German Riesling.
91 points $9.95 Best Buy
Leopard Frog 2009 "Tao" Stellenbosch
91 points
$19.95
Dark nearly opaque brick red color. Fresh, toasty aromas and flavors of berry pie crust, pickled cherries and carrots, and chocolate mole with a silky, tangy, fruity medium body and a smooth, delightful, medium-length raspberry vinaigrette on roasted apples and nutskin finish with fine, chewy tannins and moderate oak. A nice fruity, delicate savory red blend that will cover a lot of bases.
91 points $19.95
Stellar Organics 2016  Shiraz
90 points
$9.99
Best Buy
Deep purple color. Sweet, smoky aromas and flavors of sweet ripe blackberries, barbecue, sumac, and toasted fennel seed with a velvety, vibrant, fruity medium-to-full body and an interesting, medium-length pomegranate molasses and mesquite finish with chewy tannins and moderate oak. A delicious and satisfying smoky Shiraz.
90 points $9.99 Best Buy
Stellar Organics 2017 Rosé Western Cape
90 points
$9.99
Best Buy
Silvery pink color. Fresh, green aromas of fresh cut grass, gooseberries, and strawberry sorbet with a satiny, vibrant, fruity light-to-medium body and a silky, interesting, medium-length crisp asian pear and pomegranate finish with soft, fruit tannins and no oak. A refreshingly fruity rose that will charm sauvignon blanc lovers.
90 points $9.99 Best Buy
Sonance NV  Pinot Grigio
90 points
$9.49
Best Buy
Pale straw color. Fruity aromas and flavors of kiwi, apple, and nougat with a silky, bright, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a captivating, medium-long grilled peach and volcanic rock finish. A tasty pinot grigio with nice creaminess and delicate smoke.
Awards: '2017 World Value Wine Challenge-Top 10 White Wine $10 and Under' Best Value South African Pinot Grigio Exceptional Value
90 points $9.49 Best Buy