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, 2015

    Product Code: CHX415

    Chamonix, Pinotage, Greywacke, Franschhoek, 2015

    “Some bunches, cut but left hanging in the vineyard to dry out, are added in a ripasso manner to promote a second fermentation. Vibrant blackberry,...”

    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%
    More Info
  • False Bay, Pinotage, Western Cape, 2016

    Product Code: FAB816

    False Bay, Pinotage, Western Cape, 2016

    “Bittersweet raspberry and bilberry fruit, bold and juicy, with just a smidge of tannin. Now-2019”

    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: 13.5%
    More Info
  • Chamonix, Troika, Franschhoek, 2014

    Product Code: CHX214

    Chamonix, Troika, Franschhoek, 2014

    “Platter’s note: "Ageworthy 14, (*****) a cab franc-led Bordeaux blend... with aromatic dark berry & charcuterie notes, malleable...”

    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, 2015

    Product Code: CHX315

    Chamonix, Pinot Noir Reserve, Franschhoek, 2015

    “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: 14%
    More Info
  • Fryer's Cove, Pinot Noir, Bamboes Bay, Western Cape, 2015

    Product Code: FRY615

    Fryer's Cove, Pinot Noir, Bamboes Bay, Western Cape, 2015

    “Based on fruit from a cool coastal site, an attractively fast-maturing Pinot, so already one enjoys pleasing savoury and undergrowth hints. Supple,...”

    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, 2013

    Product Code: DDD613

    Domaine des Dieux, Josephine Pinot Noir, Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge, 2013

    “From cool vineyards at the top of the Hemel-en-Aarde valley, bold and forward, showing an oak and strawberry aroma, and ripe strawberry and cherry...”

    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: 14%
    More Info
  • Goedverwacht, Great Expectations Crane Red, Merlot, Robertson, 2017

    Product Code: GDV417

    Goedverwacht, Great Expectations Crane Red, Merlot, Robertson, 2017

    “The latest vintage is a big step up, fresher and more lifted than in the past, without losing its heartiness and generous plum fruit with hints of...”

    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
  • Goedverwacht, Great Expectations Shiraz, Robertson, 2016

    Product Code: GDV616

    Goedverwacht, Great Expectations Shiraz, Robertson, 2016

    “From the Du Toit’s family-owned vineyards in Robertson, this has become very popular, the fruit lightly flavoured with oak staves.”

    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
  • Cape Rock, Capa Roca, Olifants River 2015

    Product Code: CAP615

    Cape Rock, Capa Roca, Olifants River 2015

    “"Mainly Portuguese varieties with a few international ones. The label gives the full recipe and warns there may be a little sediment over time....”

    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: 14.5%
    More Info
  • Cederberg, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cederberg, 2015

    Product Code: CED715

    Cederberg, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cederberg, 2015

    “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: 14%
    More Info
  • Cederberg, Shiraz, Cederberg, 2015

    Product Code: CED815

    Cederberg, Shiraz, Cederberg, 2015

    “An award-winning, well-oaked (about 60% new barrels), gorgeously fruited wine, all perfume and refinement. Now-2020”

    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
  • Blankbottle Familiemoord, Western Cape, 2015

    Product Code: BBO715

    Blankbottle Familiemoord, Western Cape, 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
  • 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. Crushed strawberry perfume; and vivacious...”

    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, Breedekloof, 2015

    Product Code: BBO815

    Blankbottle, Koffer, Breedekloof, 2015

    “A charming example of the new Cinsault wines from old vines in the Cape: all red fruit. Strawberryish nose, and pretty red berry and red cherry...”

    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

    “Full-on but really expressive Cab Franc, perfumed - a hint of violets - and jellied red fruit, but with suave power too. The extrovert 2015 vintage...”

    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, 2015

    Product Code: CED915

    Cederberg, V Generations Cabernet Sauvignon, 2015

    “"This special, isolated site, located at over 1,000 metres, makes exceptional Cabernet, but especially so in 2015. Picked on April 10th, it’s...”

    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%
    More Info

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