15 best South African wines you need to try

15 best South African wines you need to try

From crisp sauvigon blanc to plummy shiraz, tap into the huge variety from the country

The eighth biggest wine producer in the world, South Africa offers perhaps more variety and diversity than any other wine-growing country. All the main wine regions are in the southwestern area of the Cape where conditions are most likely to mirror those of the Mediterranean. Areas such as Paarl, Stellenbosch, Swartland, Walker Bay and Franschhoek have all become synonymous with top quality wines. The most popular red wines are shiraz (syrah), cabernet sauvignon, along with cinsault (or cinsaut), pinot noir and the homegrown Cape favourite, pinotage. Chenin blanc remains the white wine of choice although there are plenty of splendid examples of sauvignon blanc too.

Interview with Morné Vrey - Delaire Graff Estate Winemaker


In the early 1980s John and Erica Platter, creators of the eponymous Wine Guide, bought a farm nestled between majestic mountains and overlooking the vineyards of Stellenbosch, called Avontuur. It was renamed Delaire, French for ‘from the eyrie’ as it looked down over the most amazing scenery.

Laurence Graff, the founder of Graff Diamonds, visited the Estate for the first time back in 2003 and felt a strong connection in an instant – it was love at first sight. He acquired the Estate in the same year and went about with dedication and purpose to transform it into South Africa’s most desirable art, hospitality and wine destination. An avid collector of modern and contemporary art, a world leader within the diamond industry and an equally devoted philanthropist, Graff opened the doors to Delaire Graff Estate in 2009.

Climate Change Is Rapidly Altering Wine As We Know It

In early November 2019, more than 11,000 international scientists signed an SOS on behalf of our planet. The proclamation, titled “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency” and published in the academic journal BioScience, made explicit connections between human activity and severe environmental repercussions. It also marked the first time such a vast and diverse pool of scientists rallied in support of as urgent a phrase as “climate emergency.”

Later that month, that publication was bolstered by a report from the World Meteorological Organization that claimed global greenhouse gas concentrations, and, specifically, those generated by human activity, had shattered new records. This is bad news, because those gases don’t just disappear: They stay in our atmosphere, trap extra heat near earth’s surface and cause global temperatures to rise.

De Grendel Koetshuis Sauvignon Blanc 2019, so good with Jane-Anne Hobbs’s Spaghettini with a Double-Creamy Onion, Lemon & ‘Caviar’ Sauce…

The vintage of 2019 followed the break of the longest drought in living memory. The crop delivered was of fine quality though of medium size. The grapes for the De Grendel Koetshuis Sauvignon Blanc 2019 came from chosen vineyards in weathered shale soils in Lutzville and Darling, while a small dash of Semillon from the De Grendel Vineyards.

Once in the cellar, the hand harvested bunches were destemmed and crushed grapes and then allowed skin contact for 6 hours. The juice was cool settled and taken for inoculation and fermentation in stainless steel tanks. 18% of the juice was fermented in a mix of new and second fill French Oak barrels and was allowed to lie on the fine lees for 100 days. The Semillon, which makes up 9% of the blend was also fermented in oak barrels. Once ready, the wine was blended and prepared for bottling.

11 South African Wine Caves For Subterranean Sipping

For those of you who have not yet had the chance to tour a winery cave, here’s a brief introduction: A wine cave is a subterranean chamber built into a hillside (usually) and is used for storage and aging of wine.

An underground tasting experience is not only the best solution to savour wines at its organoleptic splendour, but it also offers visitors an insight into the estate’s history while getting a taste of their best bottles.

A fair amount of wineries in the Cape winelands have wine grottos that are open to visitors, offering sit-down tastings or guided walks. Some even allow guests to sample wines straight from the barrels, while others zhoosh things up with ambrosial food and wine pairings.

Here are eleven wine caves worth visiting the next time you’re out and about in the South African winelands.

Simonsig Harvest Commences with a Perfect Swing

Simonsig heads into harvest 2020 in conditions described as the best in the past five years. Although these are early days yet, since harvesting of Simonsig’s grapes began on 20 January, winemaker Michael Malan says even-ripening and healthy grape bunches are what he and the harvest teams are seeing at the moment.

“As with most of the Stellenbosch region, Simonsig vineyards experienced a cold winter and a truly wonderful cool, mild growing season since the vines began flowering in September,” he says. “There were no sudden spikes in temperature during October and November, critical months for berry development, with the gorgeous temperate weather continuing. Showers in October contributed to better flowering and berry-set. The splash of rain at Christmas time was an added bonus, being just enough to provide refreshment to the ripening bunches and to cool and moisten the soils.”

Looking back on 2019

As 2019 draws to a close it is time to look back and reflect on the past year, and we certainly had a lot to celebrate! South Africa became Rugby World Champions for the third time when Siya Kolisi lifted the Rugby World Cup in Japan and Zozibini Tunzi became the third South African woman to be crowned Miss Universe. At Simonsig our Redhill Pinotage claimed the trophy for one of South Africa’s Top 10 Pinotage’s for the seventh time. Our maiden vintage of our Kaapse Vonkel Satin Nectar Rosé won the inaugural Trophy for the best Cap Classique in the Demi Sec style. And, to top it off, we had our best ever showing at the Veritas Awards; winning 4 Double Gold and 3 Gold medals! Our dams were also full for the first time since 2014.

There were some less happy moments too, starting on 1 January when a flare ignited the Betty’s Bay Fire which burned for two weeks.

Introducing the Banghoek 2016

Throughout the world, stories are the threads that link the past to the present, connecting us to one another and to our heritage. These legends are woven together and create the tapestry of our history, rich and varied, both perfect and blemished. This is true for every continent, country, town and community, with each thread contributing to the magnificence of the end product.

Delaire Graff Estate continues to be a source of superb contributions to the vivid heritage of the Stellenbosch region. This week, the Estate unveils its latest gem – a tribute to the region of Banghoek and its deep history, following an exceptional year for Cabernet Franc wines in 2016. The Banghoek 2016 is a love letter to its namesake, showcasing a delicate mélange of history, structure, aroma, tannin and flavour of poised distinction.

The Evolution of Haute Cabrière

25 years since the von Arnim family launched the iconic Haute Cabrière cellar, the winery has transformed into a world-class space for visitors to immerse themselves in the culture established by proprietor Achim von Arnim. The newly renovated space makes Haute Cabrière the ultimate belle femme of the Franschhoek Valley.

The renovation journey was aimed at building on the past 25 years, and setting the scene for the next. “The project has been about honouring the legacy of our heritage; while celebrating the beauty of evolution. Even though the wines and the destination are ever changing, it will never lose its essence,” says Takuan von Arnim, Director of Wine and 2nd generation Cellar Master.

“Every element of the project was ultimately designed to allow and inspire our guests to create and celebrate their own beautiful food and wine experiences,” continues von Arnim.