Our top South African wine picks showcase both the versatility of South Africa’s terroir – with wines from Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Swartland, Elgin and the Tulbagh Valley – as well as the skill of the country’s winemakers who are producing stunning blends but also seriously high-quality single-varietal wines, and not just from Chenin Blanc.
First-class Syrahs, Cabernet Sauvignons, Cabernet Francs, Cinsaults and Chardonnays are making their names on the international stage and rightly so.
A question pondered during the trip to the Cape, where all these wines were tasted – most in-situ on the estates, was where else in the world can you find the diversity and quality of grape varieties and wine styles in one region, all within a few hours’ drive of each other and all at still quite accessible prices? It’s hard to think of anywhere else.
Long gone are the rubbery or over-ripe reds coming out of South Africa and instead elegant, fruit forward, balanced and well-integrated wines are shining through. The quality of the whites remains consistently high with a range of oaked and un-oaked styles delivering freshness and complexity.
All 10 wines below are drinking well now but will also benefit from ageing, including the Chenin Blancs. Ken Forrester’s Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc from 2007 was still going strong, not bad for under $20 / £15!
10 top South African wines worth seeking out