In some ways old, in other ways new, South Africa occupies a unique place in the wine world. The country has some of the oldest soils on the planet and a history of wine production extending back more than 360 years, yet it’s only in the last 30 or so that the wine-producing nation has experienced a rebirth.
South Africa’s wine industry has seen an explosion of well-qualified winemakers exploit the country’s vast diversity of terroirs, and quality-driven red Bordeaux blends have proven to be among the nation’s best, with characteristic New World fruit and concentration balanced by Old World complexity.
Scroll down to see the top-scoring Bordeaux blends from South Africa
Setting an international benchmark for quality, results from the Decanter World Wine Awards offer annual insights into the calibre of wine regions and nations, and in 2021 South Africa saw standout results, including a record breaking number of Gold medals awarded. In 2022, the nation managed to equal its top Gold medal count, with almost 50% awarded to red wines, and a wide diversity of grape varieties and styles on show.
From top-quality Pinotage to Cinsault and Pinot Noir to Shiraz, there’s not one clear identifier of what South Africa does best – but Bordeaux blends did gain a foothold in 2022.
On the judging, DWWA Regional Chair for South Africa Fiona McDonald commented: “What makes a wine a Gold is it’s got to be true to its varietal character. It’s got to have balance, to be elegant, to be harmonious – but it also has to have an X-factor. That X-factor is that indefinable pixie dust.”
Below, discover 15 Bordeaux blends that stand out amid 2022 results, with many more award-winning South African wines to discover at awards.decanter.com
South Africa Focus: Bordeaux blends
Groot Constantia, Gouverneurs Reserve, Constantia 2018
£32-£36 Widely available via independent merchants
48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc, 7% Malbec.
A classical Cape Bordeaux blend with attractive hints of cherry cola, blackcurrant and grilled herbs. Creamy and plush, deliciously vibrant fleshy fruit and an elegant finish. Alcohol 14.2%
Durbanville Hills, The Tangram, Durbanville 2018
POA Cape Wine
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot, 7% Malbec, 3% Petit Verdot.
Black plum, blackcurrant, cherry and chai tea nose. The texture is sleek and polished, very elegant and cool with a lovely fresh blueberry-fruited finish. Alc 14.6%
Constantia Glen, Five, Constantia 2019
£35.25 NY Wines
31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 17% Petit Verdot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec.
Aromas of cedar spice, grilled herbs and black plums. Elegant and finely poised with silky tannins, sweet tobacco,
blackcurrant and a long, finessed finish. Alc 14.5%
Babylonstoren, Nebukadnesar, Simonsberg-Paarl 2019
£28.75-£32.99 Banstead Vintners, Glug, Novel Wines, Vinotopia, Wanderlust
46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot, 5% Malbec.
Brooding, ripe dark fruit, cedarwood and mint. Opulent and extracted, yet balanced. Polished tannins and savoury. Alc 14.5%
Glen Carlou, The Collection Red Blend, Simonsberg-Paarl 2019
£26.90 K&LWines, Port2Port
86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 7% Merlot.
Cacao nib, smoke, baked cherry pie and coffee mingle on a youthful, structured palate. Christmas pudding richness, cranberry acidity and savoury, spicy highlights. A smart, softly textured wine. Alc 14.5%
Ridgeback, Signature C 2018
£66.25 (2017) Charles Mitchell
58% Cabernet Franc, 17% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot.
Rich, complex ripe black fruit, Christmas cake, old leather books, juniper and liquorice. The creamy palate is fresh
and complex. Spicy vibrancy and touches of herb add complexity to a cohesive, layered palate. Alc 14.5%
Stellenbosch 1679, The Legacy 2018
50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12.5% each of Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot.
Gentle plum pudding and spice on the nose open into a deeper palate of blackcurrant, cherry, clove and cigar smoke. Tannin is balanced by fruit concentration and freshness. Alc 14%
Franschhoek Cellar, The Last Elephant 2019
£34-£38 Widely available via independent merchants
48% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, 12% Malbec.
Alluring perfumes of fruitcake, black cherry coulis, tobacco, clove, bay leaf and cocoa, echoed on the palate. Succulent, with ripe, pure fruit, layered and nuanced, with inky depth and a long tail. Alc 14%
Jordan, Cobblers Hill 2018
£35.55 ABS Wine Agencies
73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot.
Gamey characters accompany leafy blackcurrant notes, cassis, damson, leather and tobacco. The palate shows a complex granite earthiness with accents of potpourri, pencil shaving, cedarwood and deep black fruits. Great potential. Alc 14%
Uva Mira Mountain Vineyards, OTV 2018
£125 Museum Wines
59% Cabernet Franc, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Brambles, damson, black cherry, and prunes in brandy, some curry leaf spice. A succulent palate has a silky texture with a whip of gravelly acidity. Long and refined with an attractive cherry-
pip finish. Alc 14.5%
Spier, Creative Block 5 2019
POA Freixenet Copestick
42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec.
Chocolatey oak with bramble and toffee notes join cherry tobacco and a hint of forest floor. Finishes with a firm grip. Alc 14.4%
Aslina, Umsasane 2020
£19 The Wine Society
70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc, 12% Petit Verdot.
Black fruit flows from the glass offset by capsicum, rosemary, bay leaf and hedgerow. Well-integrated warm oak
spice and tannin. Alc 14.5%
Delheim, Grand Reserve 2018
£26 The Wine Society
63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Petit Verdot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot.
Fruitcake richness with notes of juniper, boozy red cherries, blackcurrant pastilles and a lovely mint lift. A promising
future. Alc 14.5%
Oldenburg Vineyards, Rhodium 2020
£35 (2018) Wine & Something
60% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Rose, musk, sweet baking spice, violet, talcum powder and black fruit with a brush of dried herbs. An elegant and
nuanced wine. Alc 14%
Vilafonté, Seriously Old Dirt 2020
£27-£29.99 Handford, Hard to Find Wines, Port2Port, Roberson, Wine Direct
86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 4% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc.
Bramble and hedgerow fruit, a brush of herbs, incense and sandalwood, a touch of milk chocolate. Savoury elegance,
with firm tannins. Alc 13.5%