Nine South African wines for $24 or less

Monday, 29 March, 2004
Wine Spectator
This emerging wine region offers distinctive bottlings at inviting prices
(With thanks to Wine Spectator)

Thanks to cooling ocean breezes and high-altitude vineyards, South African winemakers are able to counter their country's heat and bottle some impressive wines, both red and white. Catering to international palates, large amounts of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are produced in South Africa.

Winemakers are also successful with Chenin Blanc, which is sometimes labeled as Steen on wines from this area. The best whites combine a medley of fruit, herb and mineral flavors with elegant structures and affordable prices.

- Alison Napjus

MULDERBOSCH Chardonnay Stellenbosch 2002 (92 points) $24
This chiseled, structured Chardonnay has lots of crunchy acidity supporting its ripe pear, fig, pineapple and papaya notes. Lots of citrus peel and floral hints here as well, with a long, stony finish. Drink now through 2006. 4,000 cases made. -- J.M.

GLEN CARLOU Chardonnay Paarl 2002 (91 points) $14
This pulls no punches, with lots of grilled hazelnut, matchstick and piecrust aroma followed by ripe pear, fig and melon flavors. Long, smoky finish delivers another wave of fruit. Drink now through 2005. 15,000 cases made. -- J.M.

WARWICK Sauvignon Blanc Simonsberg-Stellenbosch Professor Black 2003 (91 points) $16
Very rich for a Sauvignon, with lemon curd, straw, fig and peach flavors that are ripe and lush. Yet there's ample stone and mineral underpinning it all, and a fine, zesty finish. Drink now. 2,500 cases made. -- J.M.

KEN FORRESTER Sauvignon Blanc Stellenbosch 2003 (89 points) $14
Lovely expression of Sauvignon, with gooseberry, lemon peel, lime, chalk and peach flavors that don't quit. Hints of smoke and paraffin chime in on the chiseled finish. Drink now. 5,000 cases made. -- J.M.

DE WETSHOF Chardonnay Robertson Lesca 2003 (89 points) $20
Steely, sporting fresh-cut green apple aroma and flavor, with additional notes of mineral, honeysuckle and fig underneath. Rich yet crunchy finish. Drink now through 2005. 15,000 cases made. -- J.M.

CLOS MALVERNE Sauvignon Blanc Stellenbosch 2003 (88 points) $15
Shows an interesting smoky edge to its lime, chalk and herb flavors. Not quite as dense as the best, but there's lots to like here nonetheless. Drink now. 2,000 cases made. -- J.M.

GRAHAM BECK Sauvignon Blanc Coastal Region 2003 (87 points) $10
Elegant, but with deceptive richness, this has white peach, mineral and lime flavors that fan out nicely on the mouthwatering finish. Drink now. 14,000 cases made. -- J.M.

NEDERBURG Chardonnay Western Cape Private Bin 2002 (87 points) $15
Nice mix of flint, tangerine, peach and mineral flavors here, with judicious toast as well. Crisp and lively on the finish. Drink now. 3,000 cases made. -- J.M.

VILLIERA Chenin Blanc Paarl 2003 (87 points) $10
Soft up front, but rich, with nice fig, quince and mineral notes, picking up some juicy acidity on the finish. Drink now. 15,000 cases made. -- J.M.