South African Syrah: blind tasting nine of the best

Chris Groenewald was in town, bringing nine South African Syrahs with him. So a crowd of us gathered over lunch at The Drapers Arms to taste and drink. These are my notes, mostly written blind. It was a great set of wines.

Scions of Sinai Syrah 2017 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Fresh, with just 12.5% alcohol, but I […]

Two interesting South Africans: Reyneke Reserve 2012 and Hanneli R 2013

Two very interesting South African wines to report on here. The first is from one of my favourite producers, Reyneke. They are one of just three biodynamic wineries in the Western Cape (please correct me if I am wrong here: the other two are Waterkloof and Elgin Ridge). This is an intriguing wine because it […]

Two from Handford: Schaal Confluence and Garnacha not Guerra

I popped into Handford Wines yesterday to say hello to Greg Sherwood, and have a look round. If there is a merchant in London who has a better array of really interesting wine, then I’d like to see it (and London is full of good wine merchants). Greg opened a couple of bottles to taste […]

Cape Wine (7) some more highlights

Some more of the goodies tasted at Cape Wine. Some old friends and new acquaintances.

Carinus Rooidrai Chenin Blanc 2017 Swartland, South Africa
From 37 year old vines, this is fermented in 500 litre used French oak barrels. Textured and really fine, showing bright linear, elegant pear and citrus fruit with great tension and precision. Showing real […]

Cape Wine (6) exploring Italian grape varieties in South Africa

What is it with Italy’s grape varieties? They are really interesting in Italy, but seldom travel well. Still, they attract their devotees, and they are planted in a range of different locales globally. This tasting focused on Italian varieties grown in South Africa, and it was hosted by Roberta Bottega who is from the family […]

Cape Wine (5) more highlights, including Craven, Alheit, Savage, Testalonga, JH Meyer

Some more stunners from Cape Wine.

Craven The Firs Vineyard Syrah 2017 Devon Valley, South Africa
12.5% alcohol. From a heavy clay outcrop: the clay gives some black fruit bass end even at low potential alcohol. Peppery and supple with black cherry and black pepper on the nose. Nice purity and elegance with amazing texture, purity and […]

Cape Wine (4) some more very exciting wines: Rall, Leeu Passant, Loggerenberg, Kanonkop, Badenhorst

Some more thrilling wines tasted at Cape Wine. For me, these are very high ratings indeed!

Leeu Passant Chardonnay 2016 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Andrea Mullineux is trying to make this Chardonnay in an older, saltier style. She describes the winemaking as ‘death and resurrection’, and she allows juice hyperoxidation with no sulfites present, and then allows the […]

Cape Wine (3) some highlights: Hogan, Savage, Blackwater

So many good wines tasted over the last few days! I’m going to write up notes on some of my favourites, but really it seems unfair just to pick out a few of many. So I guess I’ll have to do this in parts, and because there are so many stunning bottles it might take […]

Cape Wine (1) Some stunning old vine South African whites

Cape Wine began for many of us with a tasting of wines from the Old Vines Project. These wines were all made from vineyards aged 35 or over. It’s worth reading more about this interesting project, but for now my focus is on some of the excellent wines I tried. Here are my notes on […]

Back in South Africa

So I’m back in South Africa. For the next few nights I’m staying in the lovely town of Stellenbosch in the lead-up to Cape Wine 2018, the tri-annual celebration of South Africa’s dynamic wine community.

It’s great to be back here. I’m feeling a little jet-lagged. I flew in from New Zealand on Friday morning, then […]