South Africa it’s a wine country packed full of surprises, hidden histories, pioneering modern wineries, and brimming with personality and optimism for the future. With its wide range of terroirs and diverse climatic conditions which range from the wet and windy to the achingly dry, it comes as no surprise that South Africa’s wineries have a relatively broad palette of grape varieties to play with. With signature varietal Pinotage, which is a crossbreed of Pinot Noir and Cinsault, that is highly versatile and expressive, that ranges from light and juicy, to deep, concentrated and age-worthy. Pinot Noir and white varietals such as Chardonnay, Chenin blanc and sauvignon are quite distinctive from this country too. With iconic wine regions such as Stellenbosch, Swartland and Walker bay amongst others, are driving South Africa wine to our shores with elegance and vision that is changing the landscape of the wine world.

  • Master of none - Playing with words referring to themselves not being an expert in any one varietal or wine style hence the saying: “Jack of all trades, master of none”. Clever and humble, nonetheless, their wines are at the forefront not only of South Africa but in the world with the amazing wines they are producing. If you enjoy reds on the lighter end of the spectrum such as Pinot Noir or Gamay then Pieter's 'Master of None' will definitely be up your street! It comprises a blend of 5 different grape varieties from tiny vineyard plots across 6 distinct regions; 40% Grenache from Wellington, 30% Cinsault from sites in Darling and Stellenbosch, 8% Pinot Noir from Elgin and a further 8% Syrah from Swartland. Unusually, Pieter then tops up the blend with Voor Paardeberg Chenin Blanc, adding aromatic freshness to the finished wine.  It drinks like a top-class Beaujolais – super bright and juicy, bursting with wild strawberry, cherry and with an earthy, smoky undercurrent. Enjoy at room temperature or slightly chilled – perfect for summer drinking! “In 2004, a lady came to my house to buy wine. She asked for anything but Shiraz. “I don’t drink Shiraz”, were her exact words. I poured her a glass of wine. She loved it and bought 3 cases. It was a straight Shiraz. It’s a fact – we do judge the book by its cover.”
  • Moment of Silence is a South African wine made by superstar wine maker Pieter Walser. He buys in the fruit to make this blended wine of Viognier, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay. It has been aged in old oak and it is a rich, powerful wine. Some of the fruit comes from vineyards which are over 50 years old.
    Stunning, all rounder, there is nothing you can fault in this wine. Aromas of candied lemon, cooked apple and mango with a core of minerality. Soft and voluptuous, it has a lovely ripeness and a fleshy, creamy mouthfeel, which leads to a perfect tangy freshness giving some zip to its otherwise mellow feel.
  • The El Bandito The Dark Side 2017  by Testalonga comes from Shiraz vineyards from the early 2000s - the vines are still in full bloom, but thanks to the low yield, they are already delivering phenolic grapes. The vineyards are cultivated by Craig with no herbicites, pesticides or fungicites. He also does without artificial irrigation. These measures alone have a positive effect on the quality of the grapes and keep the yield low. After hand-picking, the grapes are fermented spontaneously with the vineyard's own yeast and matured in 3000l wooden barrels. After expansion, it is neither fined nor filtered and filled with minimal sulfur. The Testalonga El Bandito The Dark Side has a deep dark color with a black core. It smells of red berries and dark stone fruits, of cloves, mocha and cocoa beans as well as tart spiciness. On the palate it has a present tannin and a fine interplay of acids. In terms of alcohol, the Shiraz is quite slim and straight, but still brings a weighty body into play. The finish is long and dominated by the heavier aromas. The El Bandito The Dark Side Shiraz demands air, so give it a few hours in the carafe before serving it slightly chilled from large glasses with roasted game, braised lamb or an oven-baked bean stew with roasted butter crumbs and thyme.
  • The Fleur du Cap approach is unconstrained. Using only meticulously selected grapes from the finest vineyards across the Cape Winelands, the winery produces a range of wines that offer diversity of choice and diversity of taste. Essence du Cap is known for exceptional quality and wines that express their true varietal character. This wine has a deep red colour with purplish edges. On the nose it shows ample red berry fruit with a sweetish fruit cake character enhanced by a spicy oak finish. Full-bodied on the palate with ripe plum flavours, this robust red is supported by a good tannic backbone, which will soften with time.
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    Craig and Carla Hawkins launched Testalonga in the north of Swartland, South Africa in 2008. They are part of a revolutionary ground swell taking place in South African wine, where traditions are being challenged and brave new territory is being explored. The painfully small amount of wine that this duo produces gets snapped up in short order the world over. Known for their striking intensity and nervy energy, Craig and Carla's wines are on the cutting edge of the natural wine movement in their country.This is the lightest, daintiest version of Carignan one could imagine. It's got more in common with, say a Jura rouge or something Cab-Franc-like out of the Loire Valley than a classic Rhone red.It's fresh, racy, filled with character and seasoned with a little wildness. Great with on summer afternoon, first courses, seasoned vegetables. Enjoy        
  • The Kanonkop Kadette Pinotage 2018 shows intense purple hues with lively aromas of fresh plums, mulberries and allspice, followed by a meaty undertone. The palate displays an inherent earthy touch, with flavours of crimson beetroot and maraschino cherries. Wonderful coherent balance between the fruit and the fresh acidity, with muscular support from the tightly woven tannin structure.
  • Keep On Punching is Swartland Chenin, but not in the conventional sense. No buttery oak, this is all 100% stainless steel tank to keep that citrus twang just as clean as a whistle.  Stylistically this wine fits more closely with the Chenins of the Loire valley - the fruit is apple and pear with some nice zippy white peach.  The grapes come from old bush vines that yield small clusters of grapes with great concentration and acidity year on year.  Craig's wines have a keen following, and for good reason.After travelling extensively in Portugal and Austria learning his craft, Craig Hawkins returned to South Africa and became the winemaker at top Swartland estate Lammershoek.  Craig now makes his own wines from various small, organic vineyard sites in Swartland and makes his wine naturally, with as little intervention as possible.If you like a bit of skin contact (& don't we all), try this!
  • Meerlust Rubicon had a great impact on the history of South African wine. First made in 1980, it essentially set the pattern for Bordeaux blends in the country. There was of course a few pioners at this front that only used Cabernet Sauvignon varietal such as Kanonkop (Paul Sauer) in 1973 but as a blend as per Bordeaux style Meerlust changed the scene. According to Hannes Myburgh, his father was inspired by Julious Cesar words “Alea iacta est. The die is cast,” leading his troops towards Rome in 49BC. As this was a irreversable moment in history as there was no turning back after crossing the Rubicon river as this profoundly shifted Roman politics. Nico Myburgh from the 7th generation of the Meerlust estate and father of the current custodian, was holidaying in Bordeaux when he discovered that the terroir in this area of France was similar to that of the Eerste River Valley. Both have a distinctive climate, characterised by a cooling sea breeze. And both have a soil structure made up of decomposed granite and clay. The red wines produced by the two regions, however, were very different. Unlike the Western Cape’s specified cultivars, Bordeaux thrived on producing blends. Nico returned to Meerlust, filled with inspiration and the desire to create a blend of his own that would match those of the French. In 1980, after several years of experimentation together with winemaker Giorgio Dalla Cia, he announced the birth of the new blend. With proportions of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, a new style of wine had been created in South Africa. Like Caesar, there could be no turning back. Nico and Giorgio had already considered a number of names for the new blend when Professor Dirk Opperman from the University of Stellenbosch, a friend of Nico’s suggested that “Rubicon” might be appropriate. The pair had, after all, crossed a new frontier – and changed the way South Africans thought about red wine. The Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot vineyards are hand harvested from February through to March and each individual vineyard block is kept separate throughout the fermentation process and monitored until the moment of blending.
    In wintertime, after malolactic fermentation has allowed the personality of each vineyard to assert itself in barrel, the wines are carefully assessed to produce the most expressive, harmonious and complex wine. The blend is assembled and then allowed another year in barrel for the components to harmonise. The wine is finally bottled and left for a further 2 years before release. Rubicon is always released at four years of age and will immediately offer the distinctive character and quality of the Estate. However, further bottle maturation is advised for the intriguing complexity of this classic wine to unfold and reveal itself.
    The first vintage, the 1980, remains vivacious and very much alive, even 30+ years after vintage. Subsequent vintages all express the personality and characteristics of their specific year. All vintages of Rubicon, however, share the hallmarks of wines grown at this special place: intensity, harmony, vibrancy, complexity and individuality.
    I suppose we could use here ''Veni, vidi, vici''

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