SA wines up there with world's best reports The Washington Post

Friday, 3 September, 2004
Michael Franz in The Washington Post
Michael Franz set out on a mammoth tasting of South African wines in pursuit of answers to the following questions: Can Africa consistently achieve excellence from year to year?; Can it show depth, with many excellent wines in particular categories, or does it have only a few star wineries?; Can it achieve excellence with a broad range of wine types, or is it just a niche player?

'South Africa passed. Indeed, in my recent tastings of more than 300 current releases, it passed on all three counts', Mr. Franz recently wrote in The Washington Post.

'Regarding consistency, it is now clear that South African producers can cope quite effectively with the variation in vintage conditions that they (like all vintners striving for excellence by working in marginal climates) confront from year to year. As regards depth, the numerous examples of superb red blends and Sauvignon Blancs show that South Africa's strength stems not from just a few clever winemakers but from roots running deep into the country's soil and climate. South Africa can also come up with the goods when range is at issue, as I believe I can demonstrate conclusively with today's recommendations.'

Michael Franz recommended the following wines in his article (listed in order of preference within categories):

Wildekrans (Walker Bay) 2001 ($37)
Spice Route (Charles Back) (Swartland) "Flagship" 2000 ($37)
Kanonkop (Stellenbosch) 2001 ($28)
Kaapzicht (Stellenbosch) 2001 ($15.50)
Simonsig (Stellenbosch) 2001 ($10)
KWV (Western Cape) 2002 ($9)  

Plaisir de Merle (Paarl) 2001 ($23)  
Jardin (Stellenbosch) 2002 ($17)
Fleur du Cap (Coastal Region) 2001 ($14)  
Backsberg (Paarl) 2002 ($9)  

Groote Post (Coastal Region) 2002 ($9)
Kanu (Stellenbosch) 2003 ($9)  
Ken Forrester (Stellenbosch) "Petit Chenin" 2003 ($9)  

Goats do Roam (Charles Back) (Western Cape) 2003 ($11)
Firefinch (Robertson) Colombard/Chardonnay 2003 ($13)
Bradgate (Stellenbosch) Chenin Blanc 70 percent/Sauvignon Blanc 30 percent, 2003 ($10)

Onyx (Groenkloof) "Noble Late Harvest" 2002 ($17 for 375 milliliters)
Rudera (Stellenbosch) Chenin Blanc "Noble Late Harvest" 2003 ($28 for 375 milliliters)

Michael Franz's original article appeared on the website