From the road in South Africa: Delaire Graff and 96 Winery Road

I’m on my way home from a brief trip to South Africa to judge a Chenin Blanc competition. I spent just two nights here, although because of the overnight flights this translated into the best part of four days on the ground. Both nights were spent at the fabulous Delaire Graff estate, in one of [...]

Consider Chenin

For the last couple of days I have been judging the Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge, held at Klein Zalze in Stellenbosch. 126 different wines were entered, and the panel of five, chaired by Cristian Eedes, tasted all of them, and then retasted the top 32 wines to select 10 winners. So here [...]

Off to South Africa again

So this evening I am flying to South Africa again. Just for a few days this time. And I’m going while it’s winter there, which is bad planning. There’s nothing like a dose of summer dropped into February or March to raise the spirits. Fortunately, Cape Town winters are pretty much like bad English summers, [...]

A classy natural South African - JM Meyer's Ivory White

I don’t know a great deal about this wine, other than it’s a naturally made my Johan Meyer, who makes the wines of Mount Abora and Meerhof. Johan is based in the Swartland but for his own wines he sources from vineyards further afield. 1000 bottles of this were made and the UK agent is [...]

Vin de Constance, one of the world's great sweet wines

Yesterday I had the chance to taste, for I think the third time, the 2008 Vin de Constance. I didn’t spit my sample.

This is one of the world’s great sweet wines. It’s made by Klein Constantia, and it’s a wine that has been made to replicate, as closely as possible, the famous Constantia wines of [...]

Lanzerac Pinotage 1966

Had an excellent tasting at lunch at High Timber today, focusing on older South African Chenin Blanc and Pinotage. It was really cool to be able to try this bottle, in particular – the Lanzerac 1966 Pinotage – because it’s older than me, and it’s still in great condition. This wouldn’t have been an expensive [...]

Two lovely whites from M&S: Ferricrete Sauvignon and Earth's End Riesling

Two lovely white wines, cool climate, new world.

Paul Cluver Ferricrete Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Elgin, South Africa
13.5% alcohol. Very bright and focused with subtle green herbs, lemons and grapefruit characters. Sophisticated, pure and linear with bright minerality. 91/100 (£11.99 Marks & Spencer)

Earth’s End Riesling 2013 Central Otago, New Zealand
12.5% alcohol. Made by Riesling experts Mount [...]

Beeslaar Pinotage 2012, a fabulous debut

Abrie Beeslar (above) is the winemaker at Kanonkop, and he’s doing a bit of homebrew. This, his debut vintage, is one of the most profound interpretations of the often tricky Pinotage grape that you can imagine. It’s the Grand Cru Burgundy of Pinotages: structured, fresh, complex, ageworthy and elegant despite its obvious concentration. Website is [...]

La Petite Vigne Amazing Grace Cabernet Sauvignon, Franschhoek, South Africa

This wine is really impressive. It’s from a Franschhoek winery I was introduced to through a friend (the brother of owner and winemaker Kevin Swart), who also make wines under the Black Elephant label. This is an estate wine made in their home cellar from grapes grown on the property, which borders Chamonix. 10 000 [...]

Some great old wines at Overgaauw, Stellenbosch

Had a remarkable dinner at Overgaauw, a wine estate in Stellenbosch, on Wednesday night. David van Velden, who hosted us, is the fourth-generation winemaker of this family property. Overgaauw has been in the van Velden family since 1905, and David began making wine in 2003, took over from his father in 2007, and has been [...]