I enjoy many South African wines, but I don’t feel that I know a lot about them generally, beyond the sort of detail covered in WSET. Could anyone recommend any good websites/books? I’ve been eyeing up the book Wines of the New South Africa - anyone read it? And does anyone have any thoughts on the usefulness/reliability of Platter’s as a guide?
I’m sure that @peterm will be able to point you in the right sort of direction … (even if with a bit of a Pinotage bias).
I’m trying to remember the places I used to look at, and the people I spoke to. The scene there is very vibrant and not a lot of the very best stuff makes it out of the country
Edit: by the way, have you read the Travels In Wine articles from Jo Locke? Could help to get started:
Robert is right, peterm is the man to go to on this.
South African wines suffered from being associated with cheap Chenin Blanc, nearly all from co-operatives , for a very long time and it has taken years to get over that, but though I cannot pretend to have drunk a lot of SA wines the SBs are in my opinion at the cheaper end better than NZs and the Cabernets are first class, there is obviously a lot more than that but you need the community authority on the country for further reading and advice.
Wines of the New South Africa is Tim James’ book. He’s a first rate writer and has his finger firmly on the pulse and the book is quite recent.
South Africa’s wine business is changing so fast with new labels becoming fashionable and expensive seemingly over night, and new wine regions opening and old ones that were dismissed when I first visited the winelands now considered the best. (Swartland).
Foreign money is moving in and although many wineries are small family owned and managed operations, some are being taken over – such as the excellent Warwick that I read about on this very forum.
Platter: I’ve travelled to many winelands and nowhere has anything at all like Platter. For 38 years it has been listing wineries and reviewing their wines annually. It’s a mini encyclopaedia with maps, wine industry stats, varieties grown and so much information. It’s essential if you visit the winelands. The 2018 edition has over 8,000 wines from more than 900 producers. Also online at https://www.wineonaplatter.com/
A major amount of South African wine in this country has come in bulk and bottled here or in Europe and these wines - usually with invented names*- won’t appear in Platter.
To get a wine made and bottled in the Cape look for the seal stuck on the neck or capsule of the wine. The code numbers on the seal can be checked on line at www.sawis.co.za to give details of prpducer, varieties and region.
The Wine of Origin (WO) system identifies where the grapes are grown, not where the winery is. If the word Estate appears then the wine is grown in the vineyards farmed by and surrounding the winery, made bottled and labelled on the estate.
Wine writer Angel Lloyd’s https://outofthepress.wordpress.com/
Wine writer Mike Froud’s http://www.topwinesa.com/
Irreverent writer with a gift for language Emile Joubert’s http://winegoggle.co.za/
WINE magazine is now online only run by editor Christian Eedes. Tim James now writes there http://winemag.co.za/
Wine news, events and more www.wine.co.za
Industry magazine Wineland has industry news and articles including technical - http://www.wineland.co.za/
For info on god’s own grape www.pinotage.org
any questions, feel free to contact me
*Bulk shipped Whale Caller sold in Waitrose can’t even get the name right. Hermanus has a Whale Crier who blasts on his kelp horn to point to where whales are. He doesn’t call them.
(edited to add Wineland magazine)
This is great, thanks @peterm ! I shall check out the websites mentioned before deciding whether to get the book… I do enjoy anything that falls in the “irreverent” category, so may start there!
Hmm, there’s not a lot of the best stuff made, but I think we have more of it than anywhere outside South Africa and sometimes we have wines you just can’t get in South Africa because they were bought before a new Platter guide awarded them 5 stars and they sold out over night.
You may need to go to small importers like http://www.vincisive.co.uk/ from whom I’ve boight icon wines for tastings
So here we are, the first discussion of a wine from the 2018 vintage. That’s right, this is the Dry Year characterised by the worst domestic water shortages in the history of Cape Town, black-bass having to learn the leopard crawl due to empty dams and Premier Helen Zille sporting a water-saving, unwashed hair-do resembling a wombat that had gotten hold of a tub of Vaseline.
I’ve now just ended up down a Wikipedia-hole of articles about SA regional politics…(prompted by googling “Helen Zille”!)
50 litres per day per person when I was there in January
Can only agree with Peter whose knowledge of SA wine is immense. He is also very modest about his own contributions to the literature on South Africa’s own Pinotage. The marmite grape - love it or hate it - it is now made in a variety of styles and Peter has comprehensive coverage here http://www.pinotage.org.
There is a feeling I think among some producers, including younger ones with little track records, that SA premium wine is underpriced and prices are firming up but some of the older traditional producers still offer terrific value. Its good to see TWS beginning to offer SA wines enprimeur and the recent Remhoogte offer of older wines really interesting and, I think, terrific value for scarce aged wines.
Nothing however beats a trip to the SA wine lands - scenery, wine, food and people all wonderful.
Really loved a holiday in Constantia and going out to the surrounding wine areas. A real mix of the old traditional and the modern.
@peterm I just had a lovely chat with the great-grandson of Abraham Izak Perold, who’s just opened a great little wine shop in deepest darkest Mendip of all places!
We just fancied lunch in a farm cafe near Shepton Mallet and there it was right next door - I had no idea it was there.
He’s a lovely chap and is clearly very proud of his family story and is, of course, opening a lot of bottles for tasting this coming weekend for Pinotage Day. I’d be straight back up there for it but I’m going to be in London meeting up with some old school friends.
This is his shop: http://peroldwinecellar.co.uk/
I haven’t met him but we’ve communicated by email. We should have met at the planting of the first Pinotage vineyard in England, but I was out of the country that week.
Unfortunately I am far away from his shop.
Keen to see what’s included in the Vergelegen offering. obviously 2015 a great vintage in general in SA too.
Just wish TWS could make an EP arrangement for Vin de Constance.