About South African Wine

Today, South Africa ranks as the eight largest producer of wine in the world. The wines however a still largely a secret, as there has not been a serious marketing push for these products.

There are several excellent wine types, both white and red. For the former, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc have excelled, while for the red, international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are recent successes, joining the local variety Pinotage.

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.

However, the reds, thought quite good, are less recognized, with Pinotage still a bit of a mystery as far as its image. Perhaps they producers will be able to get their message across soon about the quality of its wines, which will lead to better consumer recognition and additional sales.
Top Picks for South Africa
217555
Leopard Frog
2006 "Tantra" Stellenbosch
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
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
221453
Arabella
2017 Sauvignon Blanc
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.
92 points $9.99 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
217554
Leopard Frog
2006 "Kiss & Tell" Stellenbosch
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
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
217556
Leopard Frog
2007 "Tribe" Stellenbosch
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
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
220178
Sonance
NV Pinot Grigio
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
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
217557
Leopard Frog
2009 "Tao" Stellenbosch
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
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222115
Stellar Organics
2016 Shiraz
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
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222118
Stellar Organics
2017 Rosé Western Cape
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
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
220959
Sonance
NV Pinot Grigio
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.
90 points $9.49 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
221450
Arabella
2016 Cabernet Sauvignon
Ruby black color. Savory aromas and flavors of pickled tomatoes, sour cherries and blueberries, chestnut honey, and hint of crispy bacon with a satiny, tangy, fruity medium body and a smooth, appealing, medium-long creme brulee, sweet spices, nuts, and tobacco finish with chewy, fine tannins and light oak. A crisp, refreshing cabernet that will be very versatile.
90 points $9.99 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab