The story of South African wine is changing - and has been for the last decade or so. Today it's super safe to say that South Africa is one of the most exciting wine-producing regions. These wines have emerged as both some of the best valued red and white wines with renowned winemakers continuously pushing the envelope. Here's a quick overview of varietals, regions and what to expect from your purchase.
- Cabernet Sauvignon: There is a savoriness to a South African Cab, which makes it a great alternative to more fruit forward styles (e.g California). Envision peppery notes rounded out with dark fruit such as plum and blackberry. These wines tend to fit somewhere between Old World and New World - savory but less gritty and more approachable than a classic French Bordeaux.
- Syrah/Shiraz: South African Syrah is taking the world by storm mostly due to its dark spiced fruitiness and chocolate-like richness. That being said, the range of styles of Shiraz (it's other name) varies across south Africa from more savory in cooler areas and more rich and intense in dryer regions.
- Pinotage: South Africa's very own grape variety - a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault. That doesn't mean it tastes like either! Pinotage offers juicy raspberry/blueberry flavours rounded out with spiced chocolate and tobacco. Although they vary in style, they tend to be dense, higher in alcohol and savory - perfect for pairing with a wholesome meal.
- Merlot: Widely used in creating some of South Africa's world-famous red blends. There has also been a movement of independent wineries making great single-variety bottles and giving the grape the representation it deserves.
- Chenin Blanc: Or 'Steen' as it's know in South Africa is the region's most planted grape. There is a growing excitement internationally for South African Chenin - a peachy and floral grape variety not unlike and easy substitutes for Viognier or Pinot Grigio.
- Sauvignon Blanc: If you're tired of overspending on that bottle of New Zealand Sauv Blanc - South Africa has got you covered! The flavours here are very similar - zesty, grapefruity and grassy and usually come in at more reasonable prices at comparable quality.
- Chardonnay: Grown in the few and far between cooler climate areas of South Africa. Characterized by flavours of peach and citrus with spicy and woody (oak) notes.