South Africa – One’s to watch

The best part of working in wine is discovering new producers and tasting wines that make you think. We’ve recently launched into South Africa, which for me was very much a new frontier. Good to say its been a very, very pleasant surprise.

Outside of the established likes of France Spain, South Africa has to be one of the most exciting wine producing countries at the moment. A mix of iconic and emerging producers are crafting world class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir on the regular, however what is more interesting is the re-emergence of Chenin Blanc, Pinotage and Cinsault to the fore.

NATTE VALLEIJ

A historic property in Simonsberg, Paarl, which has been reinvented after 50 years in the winemaking wilderness. Cinsault forms the backbone of production at Natte Valleij, where everything is done by hand, from picking through to labelling. The grapes are sourced from a variety of old-vine, largely dry grown vineyards dotted around the Cape Winelands. You’ll find savoury textured, red fruited wines with spice and herbal elements. The perfect light/medium-bodied summer red wine.

CRAVEN

Jamie Goode calls them “one of South Africa’s most interesting producers” and we tend to agree. Based in Stellenbosch, their stable of wines includes, uniquely for South Africa, both Clairette Blance and Pinot Gris alongside the more classic Chenin Blanc. Reds are based on Pinot Noir, Syrah and Cinsault. As with Natte Valleij, winemaking is very much hands off minimal interventionist. Site and variety are allowed to talk equally and the results are marvellously pure and interesting.

MULLINEUX

A more established name on the South African landscape who has done much for the burgeoning international reputation. “Ask any international critic to mention their top 5 prestige fine wine producers in South Africa and without doubt Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines will feature in the lineup regardless of whether that person is a Syrah or Chenin Blanc obsessive.” (Greg Sherwood MW). We tend to agree, it seems every wine we see from this outstanding winemaking couple ticks all the boxes.

CRYSTALLUM

These are some of South Africa’s finest Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. Attesting to that was their fine performance when served against the likes of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti…” Not a bad wrap from Neal Martin. Peter Allan-Finlayson is producing some of the best wines in South Africa at present. Truly world-class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir well worth delving into if you are a fan of more savoury, Burgundian styles. Located in Walker Bay they are blessed with an amazing growing climate, and a minimal intervention approach in the winery allows fruit and site to speak clearly.

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