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
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
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
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
217559
Leopard Frog
NV "Solstice" Chardonnay
Brilliant light gold color. Roasted aromas and flavors of cashew brittle, grilled pineapple and apple, and volcanic rock with a satiny, tangy, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a tingling, elegant, long guava and passionfruit, coconut cream, and baking spice finish with fine tannins and moderate oak. A rich, toasty, creamy oaky chardonnay with nice fruit and oak.
90 points $19.95
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
217560
Leopard Frog
2008 "Tryst MMC" Blanc de Blanc Prestige Cuvee Stellenbosch
Gold color. Toasty aromas and flavors of roasted nuts, fresh brioche, and kiwi with a supple, vibrant, finely carbonated, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a smooth, medium-length minerality, citrus, and hint of smoke finish with no oak. A robust, toasty sparkler that tastes that a mature Champagne.
90 points $19.95
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
218246
Smirk
2016 Moscatel
Silvery straw color. Fruity, floral aromas and flavors of peach cobbler and oranges and orange blossoms with a supple, tangy, fruity light-to-medium body and an effortless, compelling, instant melon and grassy earth finish with fine, crunchy tannins and no oak. A delightfully crisp and fruity moscato with great balance and structure.
90 points $15.99 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
220113
Lubanzi
2015 Red Blend Coastal Region
Opaque black garnet color. Aromas of dried berries, dry earth, and dried white flowers with a lightly tannic, crisp, fruity full body and an interesting, medium-length tar, dark chocolate, mixed berry pie, and parsley finish with coarse tannins and heavy oak. A sturdy red for the table.
88 points $14.99 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
217558
Leopard Frog
NV "Spellbinding" Chenin Blanc
Light gold color. Toasty aromas and flavors of baked peaches and lemons, nut brittle, toasted coconut custard, and floral honey with a satiny, tart, dryish medium body and a tingling, captivating, medium-length quince, champagne vinaigrette on melon rind, nutskin, and grass finish with chewy tannins and moderate oak. An interesting mature chenin for the table.
88 points $19.95
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab