At last good South African wines are available in the UK! In my opinion South African red wine is right up there with the best from the rest of the world. In fact so are many South African white wines too.
We’ve all had a Chenin Blanc of course but they also produce some stunning Chardonnays – and Sauvignon Blancs to rival the very best from Marlborough. The biggest suprise to me was just how good the sparkling Pongracz Desiderius 2002 from JC Leroux was. This is their flagship wine, packaged to look like Louis Roederer Crystal? And rightly so as it’s the best sparkling wine I’ve ever tried, including many vintages of Dom Perignon!
For too long we’ve been inundated with inferior, artificial, manufactured plonk at the cheap end of the market and this has tainted the reputation of the South African wine industry in the UK. However the good producers are now fighting back to restore South Africa’s image, quite rightfully as one of the world’s leading wine producing regions, making wines of exceptional quality – and at exceptional value prices too.
The Cape Winemaker’s Guild is an elite group of 28 independent wine makers who have got together to put South Africa firmly on the map as a top quality producer. Membership is by invitation only. Their top wines are made with real passion to showcase what the region can produce, often made in tiny quantities. Refreshingly it’s not about churning out vast quantities for profit, it’s all about the art of winemaking, striving to make the best wine possible from the raw ingredients. They get great reviews from John Platter who is South Africa’s foremost expert wine reviewer, and a trusted source for genuine reviews.
Fortunately some of these wines are now finding their way over to the UK. One or two enterprising companies like www.goodwineonline.co.uk are working with these top producers to bring their top wines to the UK wine lover.
South Africa has historically been famous for Chenin Blanc and Pinotage (a hybrid of Pinot Noir and Hermitage). If you’ve had a cheap version of either of these wines it could well have put you off for life! Have a good one however, and you will be trying some stunning wines, with a character and flavour not found anywhere else . Of particular note and producing some of the very best wines to come from the Cape, are two relatively new wineries – Jean Daneel and Cape Point Vineyards. Interestingly both are based outside the traditional wine producing regions toward the most southerly point on the tip of Africa – a new boutique region in the making perhaps? Jean Daneel needs no introduction having been winemaker for several big companies like Constantia for whom he won Diner’s Club ‘Winemaker of the Year’ 1992. However he started making his own wines in 1997 and subsequently set up his new ‘micro’ winery in 2006 with just him and his eldest son. He’s already famous for his Chenin Blanc for which he has a string of medals and trophies, and for his stunning red blends which I think are truly world class. These wines are severely limited though as they only make a few pallets per year!
Cape Point Vineyards on the other hand was established in 1996 focusing predominantly on white wines. They only produce about 9000 cases in total. Their Sauvignons are world class – John Platter 5 stars! As are their Chardonnays and white blends. I’m very much looking forward to trying their reds as I’m planning a trip out there in the near future.
If you’re planning on heading out there for the football world cup, there’s a vast array of quality wine to try, and plenty of well geared wineries offering tastings, restaurants and accomodation. You’re likely to return with a whole new perception of South African wine. If like me you’re not a football fan, or just not in the fortunate position to visit the Cape, visit www.goodwineonline.co.uk for a fantastic selection of the very best of South African wines. For their superior quality and great value for money I predict they’re going to be the next big thing in the wine world!