My love affair with South African wines started when I managed Oddbins Fine Wine in the City. We had a small but perfectly formed list including wines from Boekenhoutskloof, whose iconic reputation was secured by winemaker Marc Kent’s maiden 1997 Syrah and, on the cusp of meteoric success, Eben Sadie’s maiden Syrah/Mourvedre blend, Columella 2000.
A month in the Cape on wine travels in 2004 sealed the deal. Much to Syrah maestro Marc Kent’s bemusement, I followed a week’s vintage experience with him focusing on Chenin Blanc for a Loire/South Africa study project. Sauvignon Blanc from both regions may enjoy greater popularity, but for me Chenin is the more interesting grape. For the overview, I rounded off the trip with producer visits and one of my favourite trade events, the Cape Wine Fair.
I’ve been to every Cape Fair since, witnessing a new generation of winemakers make great strides matching soil to grape variety and extending the boundaries of Cape fine wine beyond the traditional parameters of Stellenbosch, Constantia and the like. I am a firm Cape Crusader!
Under the archive below you’ll find my tasting notes. Under important links Wines of South Africa, the generic marketing body has plenty of information about the regions and links including to SAWIS which has tons of data and statistics about the wine industry if that’s your thing! Other links are to UK-based South African wine focused retailers and restaurants.
If you are visiting, the annual Platter’s South African Wines is an invaluable guide to producers. It has detailed wine ratings/tasting notes, cellar door information, maps (not to be relied upon for driving!), restaurants and accommodation listings as well as a good overview about the industry and regions.
South Africa Reports
- Cape Wine 2012: Rhone ranging - Swartland & beyond
- Cape Wine 2012: A passion for old vines seminar & tasting
- Vergelegen vertical: a decade of the Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
- Highlights: The Swartland Independent 2011 Street Party
- A visit with Eben Sadie, including some rare new releases
- Mullineux magic – Swartland’s granite and schist dream team
- A visit with Vergelegen
- Two Cape icons: a decade of Columella with Eben Sadie
- Rustenberg John X Merriman vertical
- Wines of South Africa "around the world in 80 days" tasting: Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon highlights
- Wines of South Africa Taste the Earth highlights: Pinot Noir
- Wines of South Africa Taste the Earth highlights: Red Bordeaux varieties
- Wines of South Africa Taste the Earth highlights: Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon/Semillon blends
- Wines of South Africa Taste the Earth highlights: Shiraz and some unusual blends
- Wines of South Africa’s Taste the Earth highlights: Sweeties
- Boekenhoutskloof, a Syrah vertical & new launch Le Cap Maritime Shiraz
- London International Wine Fair & Imbibe 2010: South African Chenin Blanc
- Cape crusaders – Schalk Burger, Luddite & Jean Daneel
- The Wine Detective Cape Rhone blends with a twist tasting
- White Cape blends press tasting 2009
- Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir, a mini vertical, 2003-2007
- 2008 – The Cape Fair, visiting Elim
- Hemel-en-Aarde Valley – Sauvignon Blanc 3 ways!
- 2008 – The Cape Fair, on the hoof visiting producer stands
- De Wetshof, A celebration of chardonnay tasting 2008
- Pinotage – The Cape Fair, a rare tasting of older wines
- 2008 – The Cape Fair, a cutting edge tasting
- 2008 – The Cape Fair, a focus on Simonsberg-Stellenbosch
- Vergelegen – a tasting with Andre van Rensberg
- Robertson press trip 2007
- 2006 – the annual mega tasting, London – making a B.E.E. wine
- 2006 – the annual mega tasting, London
- De Wetshof, A celebration of chardonnay tasting, 2006
- 2006 – The Cape Fair and related travels
- 2005 – the annual mega tasting, London
- Cape Winemakers Guild tasting, 2005
- The Wine Detective cutting edge South Africa tasting