South Africa is like a breath of fresh air in a red wine world that has become very homogenous.
If you’re getting tired of New World niceness or mad at Europe for making wine that’s too serious, you’re going to love the South African style — it’s a prefect combination of nice and serious. Something else that appeals to me is South Africa’s ability to deliver very good everyday wines, with not only appealing drinkability but also with character.
Grab a bunch of my recommendations and see for yourself.
Some SA reds have an interesting smokey character which has, of course, a natural affinity for grilled and roasted foods. For me, Shiraz is their top grape along with South Africa’s weird and wonderful signature grape, Pinotage.
Lets start with four house wine candidates.
Spier 05 Merlot is drier and more invigorating than most at this price. Fab value.
For a fruity, friendly, Cotes du Rhone-style red try the South African edition, Fairview 05 Goats do Roam. Great party or anytime sipper.
Looking for something down-to-earth and fun too? Try KWV 04 ‘Ubuntu’ Shiraz.
Getting into more heft, Nederburg 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz is rich, solid, manly — classic steak wine. Gutsy red for winter meals. No fluffy party drinking with this character.
Bellingham 04 Shiraz is a blockbuster. The full monty of Shirazes – rich and ready to take on the world. Porterhouse with this.
Graham Beck 03 Shiraz is more expensive and more polished. A gentle, lush experience somewhere between romantic and rustic. The ultimate log cabin red.
P.S. South African wines were featured in last Saturday’s Vintages release. Read my recommended buys under Weekly Picks at www.billysbestbottles.com.
Billy Munnelly is author, wine critic and publisher of Billy’s Best Bottles Wines For 2007, a guide to the best wines at the LCBO. Available in bookstores or at www.billysbestbottles.com. For LCBO Vintages recommendations, wine events and in-home wine tastings, visit www.billysbestbottles.com.