94

2017 DeMorgenzon Maestro White, Stellenbosch

( £17.99, 14.3%, Waitrose )

South Africa’s white blends are some of its most distinctive wines, even if they remain comparatively difficult to sell, given most consumers’ preference for varietal Chardonnays, Chenins and Sauvignon Blancs. More’s the pity! This is a superb five-way blend from one of the best white wine producers in Stellenbosch, dominated by almost equal parts Roussanne, Chenin Blanc and Grenache Blanc, with lesser amounts of Viognier and Chardonnay  Mixing oak and concrete egg-fermented portions, it’s creamy, herbal and citrus-driven, with subtle wood, honeysuckle and baking spice aromas and flavours of peach, pear and quince.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-24Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, South Africa, White, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier
94

2017 Rustenberg John X Merriman, Stellenbosch

( £15.99, 14.5%, Cambridge Wine Merchants, Dunells, Frontier Fine Wines, Great Grog, Lea & Sandeman, Majestic, Portland Wine Company, Waitrose )

Stellenbosch struck gold in 2017, with one of the best ever red wine vintages in the Cape. This refined, well-structured Bordeaux blend, made at one of the most historic properties on the Simonsberg, is unbelievably good value and would wipe the winery floor with similarly priced wines from south-west France. Cassis, black cherry, graphite and cigar box notes are framed by fine, age worthy tannins and bright, refreshing acidity. Some retailers may be on the very good 2018, but the 2017 is the one to go for.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-27Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, South Africa, Red, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot
92

2018 Kaapzicht Kliprug Bush Vine Chenin Blanc, Bottelary Hills, Stellenbosch

( £13.99, 13.9%, Waitrose )

Unirrigated bush vines planted in 1983 supply the fruit for this intense, focused, naturally fermented Chenin Blanc from this exceptional family-owned business in the Bottelary Hills. Elegantly oaked, it’s balanced and nuanced with pear, citrus and apple fruit and refreshingly low alcohol. Just the thing to drink on #drinkcheninblanc day tomorrow.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-24Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, South Africa, White, Chenin Blanc
92

2018 Stellenrust Old Bush Vine Cinsault, Bottelary Hills, Stellenbosch

( £9.99, 13% )

Cinsault comes in a variety of guises, from the light and fruit to the grippy and substantial. Tertius Boshoff sources this example from a 1972 block that also supplies his rare white Cinsault and it definitely belongs in the latter camp. Fermented with 38% whole bunches, it has some meaty concentration, 18% new oak spice, savoury tannins, layers of bramble and red cherry fruit and considerable structure. A lot of wine for £9.99.

BuyDrinking window: 2020-24Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, South Africa, Red, Cinsault

Why I love Chenin Blanc

by Ken Forrester
Chenin Blanc truly is the Cinderella of the wine industry, a shy grape, with no immediately outstanding features.  If you’ve ever seen a bunch on the vine – a medium...

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by Chris Wilson
There are certain rights-of-passage conversations that take place as we make our journeys in life. Which football team do you support? Where did you grow up? What was your first...

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by Tim Atkin
This was the fifth Lismore tasting, designed to pit the best wines of South Africa blind against their peers from the rest of the world. In all, we tasted 35...

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“It is highly unlikely that functioning farming enterprises will be confiscated… Farm invasions are extremely rare in South Africa. I do not recall one in the last couple of years.”...