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Jul 26, 2007 07:12 PM

South African Reds

Was wondering if any of you have had some memorable wine from this part of the world? Looking exclusively for reds though -- anywhere in the southern half of the continent would be fine. TIA.

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  1. Too many to name -- here's some personal favourites with particular vintages mentioned.

    Vergelegen (estate wine - its the one with no mention of variety on front - Bordeaux blend. There's also a super premium and overly expensive one called 'V')

    Luddite 2003/04 (sold as 'Niels Verburg' in USA) Shiraz (see Niels on WineLibrary TV episode 135)

    The Foundry Syrah

    L'Avenir Pinotage 2004

    Kaapzicht 'Steytler' Vision 2002

    Sadie Family 'Culemella'

    Hamilton Russel Pinot Noir 2005

    Vilafonte Series C

    Basic advice is to avoid shippers brands, look for a wine that actually comes from somewhere and some winemaker, not the result of surplus bulk wines with an african theme label stuck on.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Gussie Finknottle

      For a reasonably priced but quality S.African wine, I have been impressed with Glen Carlou Syrah (2004 was rewarding). That winemaker, David Finlayson, also makes a pretty decent meritage. These wines are widely available but do not taste "mass-produced".

      I would avoid wines that I describe as "Yellow-Tail-like" such as "Obikwa"...

      1. re: anewton

        I've not seen the Glen Carlou Syrah, but have made many recs. for their Bdx. blend, the Grand Classique. For the $, it has been be biggest and best surprises in the "value red" group. Gotta' find the Syrah.

        I was less impressed by their Chard, but I've only had it once, and should give it another go.


      2. re: Gussie Finknottle

        I don't know if this is surplus and bulk, but I had a great 2003 syrah from Porcupine Ridge. I missed the succeeding vintages, but today I snagged 6 of the 2006, at $15 each. They have switched to screw cap, but I'm hoping the wine is just as good as I had before. It is definitely a theme label.

        1. re: jayt90

          No its not a bulk wine, and with a screw-cap you should be getting the wine the way the winemaker intended without taint from cork.

          Porcupine Ridge is a second label (and a much more easily pronounceable name) from Boekenhoutskloof winery - http://www.boekenhoutskloof.co.za/ . Their Boekenhoutskloof Syrah is from a single vineyard, the popular Porcupine Ridge comes from vineyards in several areas. It has a great reputation, and 4 Platter stars

      3. A few others, off the top of my head....
        Meerlust Rubicon (bordeaux blend)
        Meerlust Merlot
        anything by Kanonkop
        Rust en Vrede
        Bouchard Finlayson pinot noir
        Simonsig Frans Malan (pinotage/merlot/cab sauv)
        Spice Route Flagship pinotage
        Bellevue/Morkel pinotage
        Fairview Cyril Back Shiraz

        I'd agree with Gussie and anewton that you should avoid African-themed labels, because it's really just a gimick, EXCEPT for, if you can find it, Kanu reserve cab sauv and reserve merlot. Those are excellent and affordable.

        If you're interested in South African wines, buy the John Platter South African Wine Guide (updated annually). It can be a bit boosterish sometimes, but it's the most comprehensive guide on the topic.

        4 Replies
        1. re: hungry_pangolin

          Our tastes are very much in alignment....

          Re Kanonkop I'd put a proviso that Kadette is a second label using some bought in grapes and not in the same class at rest of the Kanonkop canon; butt hen again ites less than half the price

          1. re: hungry_pangolin

            I have a doctor/customer who orders Kanonkop Pinotage by the case. Says it's the best thing going. Runs around $30. I'm not partial to Pinotage but he knows his wine.

            1. re: Midlife

              Kanonkop has long had the reputation for being the best Pinotage, but there are several others that are just as good are better, in particular L'Avenir and Kaapzicht Steytler.

              I think Kanonkop needs keeping; I used to reckon on 10 years minimum but recent years under a new winemaker have been more approachable young. Kanonkop is one of thevery few wineries that have a maturation chart on their back label, highlighting the 'bottle-shock' dip and the optimum drinking time.

              The 2004 is in the shops now and it is very good, and the 2005 is even better.

              Incidently Gary Vaynerchuck tasted the Kanonkop 2004 in episode 218 giving it 91 points, then returned to it the following day and tasted 4 bottles of the 2004 opened at different times ( a first)

          2. Thank you for all the replies.

            1. I had a Graham Beck Old Road Pinotage 2000 last night with moose sausage, roasted potatoes and a tomato salad.... superb. A fairly intense iteration of the grape, emphasising all those 'dark flavours'. Take a look for that.

              1. Can anyone comment on these for me please? (Pages are slow to load).

                Nederburg: http://www.nederburg.co.za/journey.asp

                7 Replies
                1. re: Cheese Boy

                  I have to say, Cheese Boy, that I find it gratifying that someone has such an interest in South African wines. When chosen judiciously, they are a great bargain. So, Nederburg... It's one of RSA's larger non-coop producers, and on the whole, the product is reliable, consistant, but by no means outstanding. The reserve and standard ranges of sauvignon blanc are both quite good, and the latter is a real bargain ($11CAD in Ontario?) - great with a schnitzel, with capers and anchovy. The rest are good, but I can't remember anything really memorable, especially amongst the reds.

                  1. re: hungry_pangolin

                    I think it behooves us to sample the various offerings of other continents, especially those offerings captured and corked in a bottle. I am new to RSA's wines and am completely open to learning more about them. I want to sample some of the lesser expensive wines first, and then move on. Nederburg sounds like a good start. ** The Kanu reserves are also some I'd try. **

                    1. re: Cheese Boy

                      I have a friend who swears by Excelsior cab as her cheap everyday wine.

                      Is this stuff S. Africa's version of Yellowtail?

                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                        No, because Excelsior is a smallish, family owned estate in Robertson, SA.

                        They have had considerable success in the USA, but they are nowhere the size of Yellowtail

                        1. re: Gussie Finknottle

                          I guess I was more curious if it was loaded up with residual sugar and the like.