12 Best South African Wines

Friday, 25 January, 2019
Independent, John Clarke
From crisp sauvigon blanc to plummy shiraz, tap into the huge variety of South African vino

They were making wine in South Africa in the 17th century, but it's only since the late 1980s that there has been renewed global interest in the country's huge variety of impressive wines.

Most come from the coastal regions where the ocean breeze brings a welcome acidity and wines such as sauvignon blancs that differ from their New Zealand counterparts but are as equally elegant. Elsewhere, superbly fruity examples of shiraz (sometimes known as syrah) and merlot show that South African doesn't lag behind in the red wine stakes either.

As South African winemaker Bruce Jack puts it, they're producing “wine crafted with love and positive intent” to add joy to the world. And we could all do with some of that.

Bruce Jack Shiraz 2018, 14.5%: £7, Sainsbury’s

A wonderfully rich and plummy shiraz from renowned South African winemaker Bruce Jack, whose aim is to make “little bottles of joy”. Well this should bring a smile to anyone’s face with its notes of dark chocolate, dark berry fruits and hints of Asian spices. And at £7 a bottle, he’s almost giving it away.

Leaf Plucker Sauvignon Blanc 2018, 13%: £6.99, Aldi

When winemaker Thys Louw glanced out of his window one morning he saw sheep quietly munching away at his vines – and the name of this attractive sauvignon blanc was born (although be careful how you say it). It's fruity on the tongue with that familiar gooseberry flavour and added zing that comes from the wine being partially aged in French oak. At this price it’s a great buy.

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