It has taken almost 20 years for the South African wine scene to become the exciting place it is today.
The once widespread production of inexpensive, poor wines has made way for smaller volumes and higher-quality wines, partly via the rise of young maverick winemakers who are putting South Africa on the fine wine map.
The wine-lands of South Africa are some of the most breathtakingly beautiful in the world. Many of the South African wine routes are within an hour or less easy driving distance from Cape Town. Others will take visitors further afield, through constantly changing and spectacular landscapes. Cape Town and the surrounding regions combine stunning beaches, and aqua-marine oceans, with a backdrop of vast mountain ranges and clear blue skies. South African wines are on an all-time high, across all styles. Now is the time to drink South African wines.
On the shelf
Tesco – finest – South African Chenin Blanc 2015 Swartland, £5.50: Made by the brilliant Adi Badenhorst, a yellow-apple flavoured Chenin, with a touch of spice, honey and vibrant acidity. Try with a mild fish curry.
Asda – Extra Special – Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Coastal Region, £5.95: Fresh, dry, fruity and crisp Sauvignon, showing asparagus and green pepper with hints of tropical fruit and lively acidity.
Bellingham – The Bernard Series – Hand-Picked – Viognier 2015 Coastal Region – South Africa £10.99 Co-Operative stores: A super example of Viognier, showing peachy aromas, rich, yet poised fruit intensity, yellow-stone fruit characteristics and subtle spice.
Diemersdal Estate – Grűner Veltliner 2015 Durbanville £11.99 (£9.99 when you buy any six bottles) Majestic: ‘Sweet’ lime, pear, white-pepper/spice on the nose, aromatic and very elegant. A rare Cape gem.
Mount Rozier – The Beekeeper – Merlot 2014 Stellenbosch £7.99 (£6.99 until May 17) Co-Operative store: Cracking value here – a plum-soaked Merlot, with notes of mocha, very approachable and versitile with grilled meats.
Capaia – Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Philadelphia £9.99 (£8.99 when you buy any six bottles) Majestic: A plush red, with beautifully integrated tannins and oak. Generous in its dark-fruit appeal, just getting into its stride – particularly with food – roast lamb would do nicely.
Radford Dale – Freedom – Pinot Noir 2013 Elgin £18, The Wine Society: Here’s bags of Pinot finesse, with its ‘sweet’ strawberry and cherry aroma and pure red-fruit flavour. Well structured, fresh and sappy on the palate, with fine tannin quality.
-- Neil is a freelance wine educator and writer. He runs wine courses and tutored tastings for groups and individuals, in Bury and Cambridge. More details: 01359 270318/ email@example.com/ grapesense.com