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 finish manifesting accents of blackberry preserve, bramble thicket, and peppery spice with chewy, earthy, silky tannins and moderate oak flavor. 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
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.
Indaba 2016  Sauvignon Blanc
89 points
$11.99
Best Buy
Straw green color. Aromas of dried gooseberry and desert grasses with a silky, vibrant, dryish light body and a smooth, relaxed fresh orange, black pepper, and sunflower seed finish with fruit tannins and no oak flavor. A subtle Sauvignon Blanc with food-friendly acidity; can become a weeknight favorite.
89 points $11.99 Best Buy
State Room 2016  Cabernet Sauvignon
89 points
$17.99
Dull ruby black color. Aromas and flavors of strawberry, green banana leaf, graphite, and fruit punch with a dryish medium-to-full body and a short finish with accents of papaya and tar with fruit, papery tannins and light oak flavor. A very fruity yet balanced South African Cab with a great sense of place.
89 points $17.99
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
Beyond 2014  Cabernet Sauvignon
88 points
$11.99
Best Buy
Dull dusty garnet color. Aromas and flavors of raspberry preserves, green pepper, and match head with a bright, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a medium-long finish with chewy, dusty tannins and moderate oak flavor. An herbal cab for roast pairings.
88 points $11.99 Best Buy
Indaba 2016  Merlot
88 points
$11.99
Best Buy
Dark violet color. Aromas of blackberry and dandelion stems with a crisp, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a buoyant blackberry jam and wild mint finish with fruit tannins and a suggestion of oak flavor. An approachable & berry-forward Merlot; sip alone or enhance a meal.
88 points $11.99 Best Buy