Have you ever had the pleasure of sipping a wonderful South African white wine? If you have then you'll be able to relate to this post, if not then hopefully we shall be able to convince to try a few of our recommendations.
South Africa is one of my favourite wine producing nations. It is truly dynamic with a great attitude towards the fun and interesting side of wine. Not too long ago (back in the 30s-70s) South Africa produced nothing but bulk and badly produced wine. It was not a great way to try and build up a global reputation for brilliance and it hurt them in the 80s when other 'new world' countries were carving out their own reputations. When Chile and Australia were shining in the global spotlight for solid ripe wines, albeit cheap for the most part, South Africa was hurt. Things were not helped by the terrible apartheid.
Yet they've come through and are now one of the world's leaders in top-quality, fruit-forward and complex wines. Thanks to their varying geography and respective micro-climates they are able to produce a wide range of styles and grape varietals. You will find everything from some of the ripest Syrahs or Cabernet Sauvignons in the world to the crispest of white wines.
Today I want to bring your attention to the plethora of fantastic whites that are coming out of this wonderful nation currently. To make things easier I shall just list off a few must-trys by variety.
The Klein Constantia winery, South Africa's oldest, is one of the greatest producers of mineral, refreshing and restrained Sauvignon Blancs. They are about citrus and tropical fruits not the herbaceous or overly green Marlborough style. The 2014 vintage of their estate Sauvignon Blanc is truly stunning - especially at it's $30 price point.
One of the absolute top-dogs on the Sauvignon Blanc scene comes from the fairly new winery of Savage Wines. They are producing a Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend aptly called 'White' which is truly delicious. Fun now or will age for a few years yet.
You would struggle to find a better 100% Semillon anywhere else in the world than The Sadie Family's 'Kokerboom'. It is beyond nuanced and sensational, and it is due to wines like these that give South Africa it's now top-quality reputation.
Chenin is the most planted grape across South Africa. If you ever come across a bottle labelled 'Steen' - that is just the local name for this fantastic grape. It is a bit of a speciality in South Africa's arsenal. You can expect a raft of lemon, apple, and peach aromas from a good glass of Chenin. Top examples come from Ken Forrester's Reserve or from the 'Old Vines' Chenin from Raats Family Estate. The latter being a bit more 'leesy' which gives a wonderful nutty note to it, too.
The Family White from AA Badenhorst, however, is in a world of its own. Each and every year the exact blend changes but it almost always has at least 10 grapes involved in making in the sensational white wine that it is. Incredibly aromatic but not overwhelming, ripe but not boisterous, juicy but not fat or oily on the palate. It's just a real delight to drink. It is almost always Chenin Blanc predominant but blended in with grapes such as Marsanne, Roussanne, Chardonnay, Viognier, Grenache Blanc and Clairette.
Hamilton Russell, in many circles, are seen as one of the absolute gods of the South Africa wine scene. Their Pinot Noir is without a doubt one of the greatest made in the 'new world'. Their Chardonnay is in the same high-end league. Made in a very Burgundy feel just with that South African ripeness.
So these are just a few of the fantastic white wines produced in South Africa today. I am truly happy to say that they are also some of the absolute best - hands down - not just the best of what makes it into NZ. I implore you to investigate them and try them - trust me you won't forget it!