South Africa

South African Wines


South Africa was the first New World country we explored when SVS was founded, so as early as 2003 we were running around looking for wine to ship. The reward of that labour was acknowledged as far back as 2010 when we won the International Wine Challenge Specialist Merchant for South Africa award.


The South African wine industry had to reinvent itself after the apartheid years, when the industry was working in isolation and starved of investment. For example, the country’s vineyards were previously dominated by white grapes (many of which went off to make Cape brandy). All the changes we have seen since the 1990s are now paying off. It’s no one factor, but a combination of many: huge investment in the cellars; the planting of the right red varieties in the right soils and meso-climates; the increased experience - and greater understanding of international standards and practice - of the young generation of winemakers who have come to the fore; and, perhaps most important, the increasing age of the vines following the wholesale replanting of South African vineyards. (Even now, about 40% of the vineyards are under 10 years old). This is particularly important in the case of some varieties, for example Syrah, which rarely give of their best from young vines.


We used to recommed Bordeaux blends as being perhaps the Cape’s strongest suit when it came to reds, and these remain excellent. However, we have wholly reviewed our opinion of Cape Syrah (or Shiraz, as it is often labelled there). South African Syrah is really taking on an identity of its own, offering robust cherry and blackcurrant fruit; and the addition of small quantities of other Rhône varieties - Carignan, Mourvèdre, Grenache or Cinsault - often delivers attractive seasoning. Then there’s Pinot Noir, successful only in the cooler - higher or coastal - sites such as the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley; and then there’s Pinotage...the marmite grape variously described as a living national treasure or "the only grape variety which is carcinogenic".


Pinotage is the one original South African grape, developed by Abraham Perold in Stellenbosch in 1925 by crossing Pinot Noir and Cinsault, then known as Hermitage. It has the acidity of the former parent and the warm generosity of the latter. South Africans can’t make up their minds if Pinotage is a unique selling point for the country - in the same way Zinfandel is for California, or Malbec for Argentina - or a confusing obstacle to progress. The problem about Pinotage is that, as Robert Joseph wrote in Wine magazine in August 2001, this ‘mongrel grape…unless very skilfully handled, tastes of bubble gum and burned rubber’; and he isn’t wrong about the worst examples. By 1990 plantings had declined to less than 1% of the country’s vineyards, but there has since been a considerable recovery, helped by a new understanding of how to realise its potential by improved viticulture, and also an increasing use of Pinotage as a blending ingredient. Now there is a move afoot to promote a ‘Cape Blend’ which must include at least 30% Pinotage.


In the past the Cape Winelands were centred on the triangle of Stellenbosch, Franchheoek and Paarl. As to where in the country the action is now, it’s a) the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, above Hermanus; and b) out in Swartland, the big zone north-west of Paarl which includes the districts of Voor-Paardeberg, Wellington and Malmesbury. Swartland is home to many of the most innovative winemakers, and even if not based there, others, such as Pieter Walser of Blankbottle, source grapes there. Finally there’s Robertson, a region focussed on simple, good value varietal wines.

South Africa

  • Chamonix, Pinotage, Greywacke, Franschhoek, 2014

    Product Code: CHX414

    Chamonix, Pinotage, Greywacke, Franschhoek, 2014

    “Vibrant blackberry, damson and liqueur cherry attack, intensely bittersweet, with barrel coffee hints. Very smooth, ripe tannins. Still young, but...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Full Bodied

    Rated 4 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Franschhoek
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 14.5%
    More Info
  • False Bay, Pinotage, Western Cape, 2014

    Product Code: FAB814

    False Bay, Pinotage, Western Cape, 2014

    “Victoria plum coloured. High-toned scent of raspberry cordial. Bittersweet raspberry and bilberry fruit, crisp and juicy. An attractive raspberry...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Medium Bodied

    Rated 3 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Western Cape
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 14%
    More Info
  • Chamonix, Troika, Franschhoek, 2014

    Product Code: CHX214

    Chamonix, Troika, Franschhoek, 2014

    “A blend of 50 % Cabernet Franc, 38 % Cabernet Sauvignon and 12 % Petit Verdot, given 24 months in new French barrels: three grapes, hence the name....”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Full Bodied

    Rated 4 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Franschhoek
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 14.5%
    More Info
  • Chamonix, Pinot Noir Reserve, Franschhoek, 2014

    Product Code: CHX314

    Chamonix, Pinot Noir Reserve, Franschhoek, 2014

    “The Reserve Pinot Noir is from the higher vineyards, at 500-600 metres of altitude and facing south-south west, so cooler. Fermented with a...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Medium Bodied

    Rated 3 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Franschhoek
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 13.5%
    More Info
  • Fryer's Cove, Pinot Noir, Western Cape, 2014

    Product Code: FRY614

    Fryer's Cove, Pinot Noir, Western Cape, 2014

    “This cool-climate Pinot comes from a remarkable vineyard (see below) with a little bought in fruit, hence Western Cape on the label. It's always...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Medium Bodied

    Rated 3 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Western Cape
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 13%
    More Info
  • Domaine des Dieux, Josephine Pinot Noir, Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge, 2012

    Product Code: DDD612

    Domaine des Dieux, Josephine Pinot Noir, Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge, 2012

    “From 9 year old vines. A portion is whole bunch fermented, then into French oak, 40% new. Pale hue. Gentle strawberry scent. This is very elegant for...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Medium Bodied

    Rated 3 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Hemel-en-Aarde
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 13%
    More Info
  • Cape Heights Shiraz, Western Cape 2015

    Product Code: CAH615

    Cape Heights Shiraz, Western Cape 2015

    “Sophisticated winemaking to craft this juicy example: some thermo-vinification, and some whole bunch fermentation (i.e. with the stems left on the...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Medium Bodied

    Rated 3 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Western Cape
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 14.5%
    More Info
  • Goedverwacht, Great Expectations Crane Red, Merlot, Robertson, 2015

    Product Code: GDV415

    Goedverwacht, Great Expectations Crane Red, Merlot, Robertson, 2015

    “This is old-fashioned and gutsy, like Cape reds of twenty years ago. Ruby tone. Scent of cooked berries and a little leafiness. Savoury, meaty...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Medium Bodied

    Rated 3 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Robertson
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 13.5%
    More Info
  • Goedverwacht, Great Expectations Shiraz, Robertson, 2015

    Product Code: GDV615

    Goedverwacht, Great Expectations Shiraz, Robertson, 2015

    “A big surprise. Very deep colour. Gush of cherry and raspberry, nicely perfumed, ripe, spicy and youthful but also supple. Very winning, this Shiraz...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Medium Bodied

    Rated 3 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Robertson
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 14%
    More Info
  • The Fledge & Co, Syrah, Western Cape, 2015

    Product Code: FLE815

    The Fledge & Co, Syrah, Western Cape, 2015

    “"A spicy, bright, 13% alc. stunner with whiplash tannins and a heavenly seaweedy, black-fruited perfume", Matthew Jukes, MoneyWeek, 29th...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Medium Bodied

    Rated 3 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Western Cape
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 13%
    More Info
  • Cederberg, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cederberg, 2014

    Product Code: CED714

    Cederberg, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cederberg, 2014

    “Cabernet here enjoys a long ripening period, excellent for aromatics: this isn’t picked until mid April, three months after the harvest starts in...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Medium Bodied

    Rated 3 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Cederberg
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 12.5%
    More Info
  • Domaine des Dieux, Syrah-Mourvèdre, Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge, 2012

    Product Code: DDD812

    Domaine des Dieux, Syrah-Mourvèdre, Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge, 2012

    “From about 85% Syrah and 15% Mourvèdre, this is made by Niels Verburg, a Syrah specialist who made his name at Luddite. Attractively poised, with...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Medium Bodied

    Rated 3 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 14%
    More Info
  • Blankbottle Familiemoord, 2015

    Product Code: BBO715

    Blankbottle Familiemoord, 2015

    “"Another wonderfully imaginative label from Pieter Walser (only the "family murder" was true), this blend of Grenache with Cinsault...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Full Bodied

    Rated 4 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Western Cape
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 14%
    More Info
  • Blankbottle, 100.000, 2015 MAGNUM

    Product Code: BBO915

    Blankbottle, 100.000, 2015 MAGNUM

    “"The number 100 refers to the percentage of whole bunch fermentation on this Syrah, released only in magnums. Complex Asian spices, tangy...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Full Bodied

    Rated 4 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Voor-Paardeberg
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 150cl
    • ABV: 14.5%
    More Info
  • Cape Rock, Amnesty, Olifants River, 2015

    Product Code: CAP815

    Cape Rock, Amnesty, Olifants River, 2015

    “Gavin Brand’s take on a SGM blend - 36% Syrah, 33% Grenache, 31% Mourvèdre, given a year in old barrels. Gavin prefers minimal interference and...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Medium Bodied

    Rated 3 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Olifants River
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 13.5%
    More Info
  • Blankbottle, Koffer, 2015

    Product Code: BBO815

    Blankbottle, Koffer, 2015

    “100% Cinsaut - the bunches carefully hand-picked and then hand-sorted, eliminating less than perfect berries. As Pieter notes, the individual Cinsaut...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Medium bodied

    Rated 3 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Breedekloof
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 14.5%
    More Info
  • Chamonix, Cabernet Franc, Franschhoek, 2014

    Product Code: CHX514

    Chamonix, Cabernet Franc, Franschhoek, 2014

    “We have not shipped this wine before, but once we tasted this it was inevitable. A beguiling scent of vanilla over dark fruit prefaces a delectable...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Medium Bodied

    Rated 3 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Franschhoek
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 14%
    More Info
  • Cederberg, V Generations Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014

    Product Code: CED915

    Cederberg, V Generations Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014

    “Just released - so we have snaffled a little of this tiny production (less than 300 cases a year) wonder. The fruit is from one vineyard, and then...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Full Bodied

    Rated 4 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Cederberg
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 14.5%
    More Info

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