I hear mixed things on South African (e.g. Stellenbosch) but have tried some, e.g. Meerlust, with good results. I’ve also heard they’re making significant strides overall in technique and quality. Any opinions from this board?
Lots of fantastic wines at great values. LOVE the Steens (bone dry, steely Chenin Blanc), Sauvignon Blancs, Shiraz and quite a few Pinotage (Grangehurst!).
Boschendal makes AMAZING bubbly too…
There are some very good ones, at least. The one I’ve liked best so far:
Simonsberg, Stellenbosch, South Africa
14%. $35 online.
C: Dark red.
N: Blackberries, with a hint of banana.
P: About 20 min to open. Red fruit, hint of sweetness. Very slightly drying at first, but blew off. No noticeable tannins. A touch of spice and plums, hint of bananas. Medium-heavy. Lovely lift and length, complex flavor, drinks beautifully. A new world style, but I like it. Exc-
Just like anywhere, the bad wines can tarnish people’s perspective when they’re not willing to dig deeper. I’ve had some profound, mind-bending wines from SA, and lots that I couldn’t swallow. I do think the best is yet to come.
Improved tremendously over the past fifteen years or so. They’ve even figured out how to make palatable Pinotage! They do well with Syrah and with Cabs but I’d be interested in more than French varieties, although I think the economics aren’t going to favor much experimentation of that nature.
Had more horribly flawed wines from SA, expensive ones too, than from anywhere else. Will give them another 15 years to get it right…
When I was in South Africa last year for vacation, generally enjoyed the dry Chenin’s and Sauv Blanc’s. Couldn’t stomach pinotage, thought it was an abomination. Had a Stellensboch that was ok, but generally avoided the reds. (If you like California wines, you might like the reds more than me).
In April we met a crowd of CTers in Orlando at Jiko, Mickey Mouse’s S. African-themed restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge. We ordered from the reserve list and had some really tasty wines. I’ll try to find the list but I remember mine was an 09 Boekenhoutsklouf.
A friend of mine has visited S. Africa. He has poured me some very good juice but I have not felt inspired to start buying.
I like the de Trafford Syrah/Shiraz
Hamilton Russell chards and pinots are quite good. I have the 2010 chard in cellar now and has been a little hit and miss. Giving them some time. Had a few bottles of the pinot in Scotland a couple years ago and they were very good.
Have been using SA SVB and CB for cellar-defender/daily drinker whites but haven’t explored any high-end whites or reds. Who carries the good SA Shiraz and Cabs here in the US?
Been loving tons of this…
NV Graham Beck Brut - South Africa, Western Cape (2/5/2013)
58% Chard, 42% Pinot…starts off a little aggressive with the bubbles(don’t take a big whiff at first!!)…but it calms, and shows some nice crisp fruits of apple, white peach, pear, cherry…tart lime acid, ginger spice, good dose of yeastiness in a creamy mousse. Refreshing, nice florals and dryness, fine balance. Just a tad bit aggressive for the bubbles…but still, I like this a lot! Especially for $16! (92 pts.)
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I have had underwhelming wines in the past, but a friend who visited SA recently raved about the top end wines he tasted
I’m beginning to think there must be something genetic about hating Pinotage, just like Cilantro. I’ve NEVER had one that was revolting, an abomination or otherwise horrid. There must be some molecule in the aromatics that some people react violently to.
+1 on the Hamilton Russell pinots
The 2010 at least is heaven for Brett-lovers, have never had more bacterially-infested wines in my life (and I opened multiple bottles).
I have not had the 10 but I thought the 09 was surprisingly good, (I will say I was not expecting much) and no brett.
I’m sorry to say that I completely agree. Tried several not so cheap PNs and Grenache wines recently based on Neal Martin’s reviews. Don’t think I’ll repeat the experiment any time soon.
'03 fusion V rocked…so did a $15 syrah, the '05 Eventide
Have found a LOT to like from the Swartland. Bush vine Chenins that drink somewhere between Vouvray and white Rhones, and strong efforts in Syrah. If you are close to where the importer is based, there can be excellent values across the board.
Pinotage is a tough bunny. If you don’t like it’s signature funky/tire fire tone, it doesn’t matter how well it’s made, you will still hate it. I’ve seen the same thing happen in the Rhone where people don’t like Mourvedre and even a touch in the blend turns them off. Actually had a very reasonable version grown here in Virginia, where more of the Pinot side of it’s heritage is in play.
Matthew, which Virginia pinotage was that?