Wines of South Africa: What's Worth Buying

Photo credit: the Drinks Business

Photo credit: the Drinks Business

Winelala’s March 15 newsletter shared the details of the Wines of South Africa (WOSA) masterclass that took place in Philadelphia on March 11 at 10 in the morning. Relatively early start times as such are normal for professional tastings because these types of events are usually only open to sommeliers, retail buyers, and trade journalists, all of whom have to work in the afternoons.

13 different wines were presented by Jim Clarke, former top New York City sommelier, freelance wine journalist, and WOSA US Marketing Manager.

These are Winelala’s picks of excellence, from lightest to heaviest :

  • Klein Constantia Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Constantia : Zippy acidity, with grapefruit and floral notes and all stainless steel fermentation: there’re no oak softening effects present. This wine is full and round, with a mineral nose and a long finish. Retail price for approximately $20

  • Kloof Street Chenin Blanc 2018, Swartland : South Africa has the most chenin blanc vineyards in the world, thus chenin blanc is a specialty of the winery. You’ll find warm climate notes of dried honey, lemon cream, and dried green herbs in the background. The sharp acid assures a bright, clean finish. Retail price approximately $19.

  • De Wetsholf ‘Limestone Hill’ Chardonnay 2018, Robertson : this is identifiably Chardonnay, with tell tale creamy texture from time on lees, but is unoaked, which allows subtle green highlights to pop through on the palate. Retail price approximately $15.

  • Lismore Viognier 2017, Cape South Coast : this opens with a lovely nose of lemon and white flowers. It spent 11 months in Burgundian barrels, and only the slightest hint of sweeter notes. This wine is slightly less zippy than the rest of the whites we have listed, but maintains freshness and balance for a clean finish. Retails price approximately $35.

  • Botsam Pinot Noir 2016, Upper Hemel-en-Aarde : This warm, spicy wine is on the lighter side in terms of body weight, with a nose of rosewater and strawberries. The acid here is also a bit lighter than may be expected in a pinot noir, but it is in perfect balance with the remaining components in the wine. Retail price approximately $40.

  • Keermont Syrah 2014, Stellenbosch : This wine spent 22 months in French oak, 5% new and exhibits black pepper and red and black berry spicy deliciousness backed by slate minerality. It is clean and powerful and a clear reflection of its growing environment. Retail price approximately $40.

  • Glenelly Glass Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Stellenbosch : This is definitely a food wine and a bit of a wild card of a recommendation as there are discernible mint and eucalyptus notes on the palate, along with the typical graphite and black currants expected from cabernet sauvignon. There is a very slight sweetness, less than a hint, backed by rustic notes and smooth tannins. Retail price approximately $11, which is a steal and was a surprise to the entire room.

The selections that contain hyperlinks are available through wine.com, an affiliate of Winelala. As always, these wines were chosen solely for their merit.