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, 2013

    Product Code: CHX413

    Chamonix, Pinotage, Greywacke, Franschhoek, 2013

    “"An unusual red that combines carbonic maceration with dried-on-the-vine grapes to produce something that tastes like a Pinotage crossed with a...”

    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, 2013

    Product Code: CHX213

    Chamonix, Troika, Franschhoek, 2013

    “85% Cabernet Franc, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Petit Verdott, given 24 months in new French barrels: three grapes, hence the name. Big, clean ripe...”

    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
  • Joostenberg, Bakermat, Paarl, 2011

    Product Code: JOO811

    Joostenberg, Bakermat, Paarl, 2011

    “"Bakermat" implies birthplace or cradle, and this is the top red here, from 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Syrah, 17% Merlot and 10% Touriga...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Full Bodied

    Rated 4 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Paarl
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 14%
    More Info
  • Nitida, Calligraphy, Durbanville, 2014

    Product Code: NIT814

    Nitida, Calligraphy, Durbanville, 2014

    “Nitida is better known for its whites, but we were bowled over by this classy blend. Very much in a right bank Bordeaux idiom - 52% Merlot, 24%...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Full Bodied

    Rated 4 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Durbanville
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 14%
    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
  • BLANKbottle col. Mulscal Roos, Swartland 2013

    Product Code: BBO613

    BLANKbottle col. Mulscal Roos, Swartland 2013

    “Pieter Walser’s 90% Shiraz (from four different parcels in the Swartland and Voor Paardeberg)  and 10% Carignan, with about one third of...”

    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
  • Lemberg, Cape Blend, Western Cape, 2013

    Product Code: LEM113

    Lemberg, Cape Blend, Western Cape, 2013

    “A "Cape Blend" has to have at least 30% Pinotage, the country’s unique creation: here it is paired with 55% Syrah and 15% Pinot Noir (one...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Medium Bodied

    Rated 3 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Tulbagh
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 13.5%
    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 Shiraz, Robertson, 2013

    Product Code: GDV613

    Goedverwacht, Great Expectations Shiraz, Robertson, 2013

    “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
  • Ridgeback Lionhound Cabernet Sauvignon Paarl 2012

    Product Code: RIG612

    Ridgeback Lionhound Cabernet Sauvignon Paarl 2012

    “Correct, blackcurrant scent; and that curranty black fruit comes through on the palate. Some gentle oak accents (from ageing on staves), on a gutsy,...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Medium Bodied

    Rated 3 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Paarl
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 13.5%
    More Info
  • Ridgeback Merlot, Paarl, 2013

    Product Code: RIG813

    Ridgeback Merlot, Paarl, 2013

    “Aged, like a decent Bordeaux, in 30% new barrels, this shows impressive vanilla and black fruit aromas – similar to a fine right bank wine. Smooth...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Full Bodied

    Rated 4 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Paarl
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 13.5%
    More Info
  • Cape Rock, Capa Roca, Olifants River 2014

    Product Code: CAP614

    Cape Rock, Capa Roca, Olifants River 2014

    “Gavin always admired the quality of the Portuguese varieties at the local co-op, and has bought grapes for this wine, from approximate halves of...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Full Bodied

    Rated 4 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Olifants River
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 14%
    More Info
  • The Fledge & Co, Katvis Pinot Noir, 2015

    Product Code: FLE615

    The Fledge & Co, Katvis Pinot Noir, 2015

    “"Winemaker Leon Coetzee showed me his The Fledge wines from unlabelled sample bottles.  I actually Instagrammed this very beauty with...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Medium Bodied

    Rated 3 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Various regions
    • 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
  • Cederberg, Shiraz, Cederberg, 2015

    Product Code: CED815

    Cederberg, Shiraz, Cederberg, 2015

    “Dramatic purple hue. Scent of violets. Deliciously forward raspberry fruit, refined and very perfumed. The merest hint of pepper enlivens the finish....”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Medium Bodied

    Rated 3 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Cederberg
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 14.5%
    More Info
  • Des Dieux, Syrah-Mourvèdre, Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge, 2012

    Product Code: DDD812

    Des Dieux, Syrah-Mourvèdre, Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge, 2012

    “About 85% Syrah, attractively poised and elegant, with fresh blackberry and a lick of oak. Now-2018”

    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

    “Pieter says: "A Western Cape blend of 59% Swartland Grenache noir, 22% Darling 
Cinsaut and 19% Elgin Pinot noir. - A wine dedicated to the...”

    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: 14.5%
    More Info
  • Blankbottle, 100.000, 2015 MAGNUM

    Product Code: BBO915

    Blankbottle, 100.000, 2015 MAGNUM

    “100% whole bunch press Syrah (see below for relevance), given 12 months in older oak barrels. Winemaker Pieter Walser says: "A single vineyard...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Full Bodied

    Rated 4 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: .
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 150cl
    • ABV: 14.5%
    More Info

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