94

2014 Patatsfontein Steen, Montagu

( £29.95, 13.5%, Edgmond Wines )

This is my white wine discovery of the year in my recently published South Africa report. Sourced fromthe little-known area of Montagu, it’s a brilliant Chenin Blanc (Steen) made by three friends, including the talented Reenen Boorman of Boschkloof. Formerly sold off to the local co-op, these grapes have produced something remarkable in the first vintage under their own label: saline, textured and mealy with some skin tannins, wax and spice and perfectly judged oak. One of the Cape’s best Chenins. 

BuyDrinking window: 2015-22Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, South Africa, White, Chenin Blanc
90

2013 Raats Granite Blocks Chenin Blanc, Coastal Region

( £8.61, 13.5%, Majestic )

Bruwer Raats makes some of the best Chenin Blancs in South Africa, expressing precision and place rather than tropical fruit flavours. This Fairtrade-accredited example is very lightly oaked, with just a whiff of cinnamon and vanilla to complement the pear, citrus and stone fruit nuances. Tangy and refreshing with a stony bite. 

BuyDrinking window: 2015-2018Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, South Africa, White, Chenin Blanc

Braver New World

by Matt Walls
“Sorry I’m late sir. Ignore the bandage, I had an unexpected visit to the hospital to get my ear seen to. Anyway – I understand you’d like me to paint...

South Africa – Vote Yes

by Matt Walls
Sometimes it takes events like the Scottish Referendum to make you realise that however ancient and permanent the old order appears, the status quo could suddenly change. It’s no different...
94

2013 Richard Kershaw Wines Chardonnay, Elgin

( N/A, 13.5%, Contact the winery for details )

Englishman Richard Kershaw has followed up his 2012 release with a wine that’s every bit as good. This is a smoky, minerally,  citrus-tinged, stylishly constructed Chardonnay that whispers of its cool climate origins in Elgin. Discreet and subtle, it’s a wine with texture, harmony and palate length. One of the Cape’s best examples of the grape.

BuyDrinking window: 2014-18Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, South Africa, White, Chardonnay

Split infinity

by Matt Walls
What do you feel like drinking tonight? Red or white? Still or sparkling? Dry or sweet? With an endless number of wines in countless styles to choose from, it’s necessary...
88

2012 Zalze Chenin Blanc Reserve, Coastal Region

( £9.99, 13.5%, Sainsbury's )

Kleine Zalze deserves to be more famous than it is in South Africa. It consistently turns out a very good range of commercial wines, as well as smaller quantities of top end stuff. This belongs in the latter category and it’s a great example of ripe, tropically fruity Cape Chenin. Pineapple and melon notes are balanced by the refreshing acidity that’s the variety’s calling card and rounded out by subtle oak fermentation. 

Drinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, South Africa, White, Chenin Blanc
93

2011 Cape Chamonix Pinotage, Franschhoek

( £16, 14, Oddbins )

If you’d rather drink Piat d’Or than most Pinotage, this off-beat example from the Franschhoek Valley might change your mind about this controversial South Africa grape. Gottfried Mocke’s red is made in an unusual (unique for the Cape?) style that uses the ripasso technique of refrementing the wine on its skins and it’s brilliant, with flavours of plum, spice and mulberry, subtle oak and just the right amount of tannin for backbone. 

BuyDrinking window: 2015-19Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, South Africa, Red, Pinotage
88

2012 Ken Forrester Workhorse Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch

( £7.99 down to £5.99, 14%, Marks )

Ken “Mr Chenin” Forrester has done as much as anyone to resurrect the reputation of the Cape’s best white variety in the last decade or so. This off-dry example from 35-year-old vines is typical of his deceptively drinkable style. Nutmeg spice, pear and an undertone of tropical fruit combine nicely here, with Chenin’s characteristic acidity providing a bite of welcome acidity. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-15Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, South Africa, White, Chenin Blanc

Cold rush

by Matt Walls
It was a crude but effective way of making a wine buying decision: Old World vs. New World. You had savoury, medium-bodied classic styles from Europe on the one hand;...