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 [...]

Some lovely older South African wines

So I arrived here in St James, Cape Town, South Africa, in time for lunch. It was with the other judges of the Top 100 competition that I am participating in, and it was accompanied by some older South African wines.

We began with decade-old Sauvignon. These are wines you wouldn’t have expected to age well. [...]

A lovely no-sulfites MCC from Villiera

Methode Cap Classique, aka MCC, is the South African designation for quality sparkling wines. I was really taken by this example, from Villiera. It’s made without any added sulfur dioxide, and aged for a decent length of time in the bottle before disgorgement. I love the rich flavours and the way they are nicely countered [...]

The best Pinotage?

Could this be the best Pinotage of all? Previously I have liked a few. The Scali example springs to mind,do the regular and black label Kanonkops. This is up there, certainly, and shows what can be done with this variety. It’s from Neil Ellis.

‘We take a Burgundian approach with extraction techniques and use Burgundian wood,’ [...]

Waterkloof Circumstance Sauvignon Blanc 2013

This is a lovely South African Sauvignon Blanc from biodynamic winery Waterkloof, which I visited last year. It’s the first release of a Waterkloof wine made by new winemaker Nadia Barnard.

Waterkloof Circumstance Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Ripe, rich pear and peach notes as well as lively grapefruit freshness. There’s a rich texture and mouthfeel [...]