South Africa has a long tradition of winemaking dating back to the 1600s. This heritage and expertise shine through in the many excellent South African wines available today.
Fresh sea breezes from the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic cool the baking heat of the rest of Africa, resulting in a perfect climate for winemaking. The country’s most important winemaking regions of Stellenbosch, Constantia and Paarl are all close to the coast and enjoy a long growing season.
South Africa is well known for using a range of grape varieties. The most common include reds such as Pinotage (which was actually created in South Africa) and Cabernet Sauvignon. The country also produces excellent white and sparkling wines too, including Chenin Blanc and Colombard.
Five South African wines we recommend
- Thorne & Daughters, ‘Rocking Horse’ Cape White Blend, 2018
Created in the Western Cape by the experienced team at Thorne & Daughters, this Chenin Blanc blend is as good as any similarly priced white from France. There’s genuine expertise in the way the makers have balanced out the mineral flavours with the sweet stone fruit.. Crisp and enjoyably complex.
- Hedgehog Colombard, Orange River Cellars
Colombard grapes are originally French, but they’re ideally suited to the South African climate. They create bright, crisp and zesty white wines and this one from Orange River Cellars is a great example. Hints of guava and tropical fruit keep every sip of this white wine interesting.
- Sing A Wing, Uva Mira Mountain Vineyards, 2018
Now for one from the mountains of Stellenbosch. This Sauvignon Blanc comes from higher altitude vineyards and its rocky home gives this wine an almost mineral quality. The team at Uva Mira only produce very small quantities of their vintages but this one from 2018 is worth seeking out.
- Lanzerac, Pinotage, 2018
Pinotage is the most famous grape variety used in South Africa. It was created in the 1920s by combining Cinsault and Pinot Noir grapes. This particular vintage from the Stellenbosch region shows off this grape perfectly. A balanced, full-bodied wine that packs plenty of dark fruit with hints of wood.
- Vondeling, Philosophie, 2015
Our final choice is a Cabernet Sauvignon that is easily as good as any from Bordeaux. This wine was created in Voor-Paardeberg region of the Western Cape and has been aged in oak for up to four years. Its dark red colour is striking, and the wine has hints of chocolate and raspberry, plum and black cherry.