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

  • False Bay, Pinotage, Western Cape, 2018 (Screwcap)

    Product Code: FAB818

    False Bay, Pinotage, Western Cape, 2018 (Screwcap)

    “Plum coloured. High-toned scent of berries. Bittersweet raspberry and bilberry fruit, bold and juicy, with just a smidge of tannin which makes this...”

    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
  • Domaine des Dieux, Josephine Pinot Noir, Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge, 2015

    Product Code: DDD615

    Domaine des Dieux, Josephine Pinot Noir, Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge, 2015

    “From cool vineyards at the top of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. As the vines here age, this wine is getting more refined: the 2015 is certainly the best...”

    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: 13.5%
    More Info
  • Goedverwacht, Great Expectations Crane Red, Merlot, Robertson, 2018 (Screwcap)

    Product Code: GDV418

    Goedverwacht, Great Expectations Crane Red, Merlot, Robertson, 2018 (Screwcap)

    “From a vineyard with a high clay content which suits Merlot. It’s always made in a slightly old-fashioned style, gutsy and lightly smokey, with...”

    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, 2017 (Screwcap)

    Product Code: GDV617

    Goedverwacht, Great Expectations Shiraz, Robertson, 2017 (Screwcap)

    “Pretty raspberry and vanilla scent. Bright berried fruit with a hint of earthiness. Excellent Syrah / Shiraz typicity. Supple and deservedly popular....”

    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
  • Cederberg, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cederberg, 2017

    Product Code: CED717

    Cederberg, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cederberg, 2017

    “From the cool mountain vineyards; a strongly flavoured, blackcurranty 100% Cab., given 60% new oak; a silky, classy palate, with layers of black...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Full Bodied

    Rated 3 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Cederberg
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 14%
    More Info
  • Cederberg, V Generations Cabernet Sauvignon, 2017

    Product Code: CED917

    Cederberg, V Generations Cabernet Sauvignon, 2017

    “We snaffled a little of this tiny production wonder. The fruit is from one vineyard, and then David Niewoudt makes a selection of the best barrels....”

    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
  • Cederberg, Shiraz, 2017

    Product Code: CED817

    Cederberg, Shiraz, 2017

    “Well-oaked (about 60% new barrels), gorgeously fruited wine, all seductive perfume and refinement.  Now-2022”

    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
  • MAGNUM Cederberg, Shiraz, Cederberg, 2016

    Product Code: CED416

    MAGNUM Cederberg, Shiraz, Cederberg, 2016

    “Well-oaked (about 60% new barrels), gorgeously fruited wine, all seductive perfume and refinement.  Now-2021”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Full-Bodied

    Rated 4 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Cederberg
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 150cl
    • ABV: 14.5%
    More Info
  • Piekenierskloof, Cinsault, 2018

    Product Code: PIK618

    Piekenierskloof, Cinsault, 2018

    “Also from vines planted in 1976; half aged in tank and half in old oak. Like all the best Cinsault, this exudes that lovely perfume composed of...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Medium Bodied

    Rated 3 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Piekenierskloof
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 14%
    More Info
  • Piekenierskloof, Grenache, 2018

    Product Code: PIK818

    Piekenierskloof, Grenache, 2018

    “Piekenierskloof has more Grenache planted than any other estate in the Cape – that’s why so many of the young gun winemakers buy their Grenache...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Full-bodied

    Rated 4 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Piekenierskloof
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 13.5%
    More Info
  • Paserene, Midnight, Western Cape, 2018

    Product Code: PAR118

    Paserene, Midnight, Western Cape, 2018

    “Pure Cabernet Sauvignon. As the name suggest, very dark and glossy. Delightfully perfumed – cassis. So smooth, polished and velvety. Fine tannins....”

    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
  • Koelfontein, Shiraz, Ceres, 2016

    Product Code: KOE616

    Koelfontein, Shiraz, Ceres, 2016

    “This terrific Shiraz, given 20 months in new French barrels, is spectacular and has garnered a slew of medals in the local wine competions: Veritas...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Full-bodied

    Rated 4 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Ceres
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 14.5%
    More Info
  • Vriesenhof, Grenache / Shiraz / Mourvèdre, Stellenbosch (Screwcap)

    Product Code: VRI117

    Vriesenhof, Grenache / Shiraz / Mourvèdre, Stellenbosch (Screwcap)

    “46% Grenache, 35% Shiraz and 19% Mourvèdre, given nine months in old oak. Traditionally framed wine, showing raspberry and cherry flavours tinged...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Medium bodied

    Rated 3 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Stellenbosch
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 14.5%
    More Info
  • Vriesenhof, Pinotage, Stellenbosch, 2017 (Screwcap)

    Product Code: VRI317

    Vriesenhof, Pinotage, Stellenbosch, 2017 (Screwcap)

    “Pinotage, a grape created in the Cape in 1925 as a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsault, is a Marmite grape, dividing wine drinkers into two camps....”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Medium Bodied

    Rated 3 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Stellenbosch
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 14%
    More Info
  • Vriesenhof, Kallista, Stellenbosch, 2016

    Product Code: VRI416

    Vriesenhof, Kallista, Stellenbosch, 2016

    “A beautiful Bordeaux blend given ageing in plenty of new barrels, 40% Cabernet Franc, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot. It’s the first vintage...”

    Stone, Vine & Sun rating

    Full Bodied

    Rated 4 out of 5
    Light > Full
    • Origin: South Africa
    • Region: Ceres
    • Colour: Red
    • Bottle Size: 75cl
    • ABV: 13.5%
    More Info

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