About White Wines from South Africa

About White Wines from South Africa
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

White Wines

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.
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
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
Smirk 2017  Moscatel
86 points
$15.99
Pale straw green color. Green aromas and flavors of tropical fruits and blossoms, honeyed sultanas, aloe, and herb-mint paste with a soft, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a smooth, brisk finish revealing notes of fruit salad, starfruit, and mineral water with soft tannins and no oak flavor. A soft, easy-breezy summer sipper.
86 points $15.99
Nine Fields 2018  Sauvignon Blanc
84 points
$9.99
Straw color. Aromas of soft papaya, tropical fruit jam on scones, pipi du chat, and golden beets with a supple, crisp, dryish light body and a smooth, quick guanabana finish with no oak flavor. A solid Sauvignon Blanc for the table.
84 points $9.99
Smate 2018  Sauvignon Blanc
84 points
$15
Silvery emerald straw color. Interesting, green aromas and flavors of smoked paprika on peppers, grilled papaya custard, and lanolin with a satiny, crisp, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a smooth, crisp finish with accents of grapefruit and lime rind and flint with crunchy tannins and no oak flavor. A crisp, lightly smoky sauvignon blanc with a cheery food-friendly nature.