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11.16.2008

The Best South African Wines, Part II: Cape Wine 2008 Scores

cape_wine_08.jpgI went to South Africa to learn about South African wine, and the primary way for me to do that is to taste. So taste I did -- probably more than 500 wines by the end of the week -- spending two full days going from booth to booth at the Cape Wine 2008 expo trying to taste a wide cross section of South African wine while at the same time making sure to hit some of the producers I knew were among South Africa's best.

The end result? Scores for more than 350 wines, and a very rapid education indeed. I got a sense of which varietals seemed to shine (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux Blends, and some Syrahs) and which were struggling to find proper expression (Chenin Blanc, Pinotage, Merlot, among others). I also began to get a sense of the various wine growing regions and the range of styles that winemakers were using.

I've provided my detailed conclusions in a previous post, which I encourage you to read if you haven't followed the entire series of my posts from South Africa. But to summarize, South Africa falls somewhere between up-and-coming and world-class. There are some excellent wines being made in the country (along with a lot of just mediocre stuff), but few wines that I found to be knock-my-socks-off good.

Having said that, however, South Africa seems to me to be one of the major sources of wine values left on the planet. As you can see by some of the prices with my notes below, there are some tremendous wines to be had in the $20-30 price range, at a level of quality that would result in prices at least twice that high were the wines from Napa, for instance.

In addition to my usual lineup of scores, I have included tasting notes for some of the wines that I found most interesting or compelling, and provided links to purchase some of my favorites. Many of these wines are sadly not yet imported into the United States, or imported very selectively, so I apologize in advance for any you may get excited about only to find that they are not available to you.

Without further ado, here are my scores and tasting notes for the more than 350 wines I tasted at the Cape Wine 2008 event, which it took me more than a month to write up here. Please note that the price ranges are rough guidelines provided by the producers, not the actual range of pricing for a given wine.


White Wines

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5

2007 Sequillo Cellars White Blend.
Light gold in the glass, this unusual blend of Chenin Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, and Roussanne has a surprising nose of white peaches, star fruit, and greenish tropical fruit aromas that are tough to pin down. In the mouth the wine is nothing short of gorgeous. Lovely, silky texture carries flavors of peaches and honeysuckle that are balanced perfectly with a mineral acidity so that the whole wine resonates through a long finish that leaves a simple, lowercase, "wow" at the end of my scribbled notes from the day. $35. Where to buy?

2007 Ken Forrester Wines "T Noble Late Harvest" Chenin Blanc.
Amber gold in the glass, this wine has an explosive nose of apricots and honey that you can smell from three feet away. On the tongue it is liquid satin gold, draping itself like a discarded negligee over the palate and oozing flavors of orange blossom, apricots and honey. Oozing might not be the right word, however, as this wine has amazing acidity that puckers the cheeks and juices the tastebuds until they cry out for more. Incredibly limited production means that this is made in quantities approaching 50 cases each year. $55. Where to buy?

WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
2007 Kleinood "Tamboerskloof" Viognier.
Pale gold in the glass, this wine has a very mineral nose of peaches, gold cream and wet granite aromas. In the mouth it is bright and luscious with great acidity and flavors of white peaches crushed minerals and hints of white flowers and citrus zest. Delicious and well balanced with none of the clunky characteristics that are so often found in New World Viognier. $5-7.

2008 Graham Beck Wines "Gamekeeper's Reserve" Chenin Blanc.
Pale gold in the glass this wine has a nose of freshly cut pears and apples. In the mouth it is bright and lean with flavors of pears, caramel apples, and hints of cinnamon. Remarkable and delicious. $30-50.

2007 Ataraxia Wines Chardonnay.
Light green-gold in the glass, this wine has a pungent nose of warm leather and cold cream aromas. In the mouth it is crystalline with acidity which serves up mouth puckering flavors of lemon curd, lemon zest and grapefruit juice -- a concoction of refreshing, delicious flavors that swirls through a long finish. Outstanding. $38. Where to buy?

2007 Vins D'Orrance "Cuvee Anais" Chardonnay.
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of cold cream and lemon custard, making my mouth water before I even taste it. On the palate it is firm and weighty, smooth and bright with lemon curd, cold cream, and a strong mineral quality that is as surprising as it is delicious. $30. Where to buy?

2007 Sadie Family Wines "Palladius" White Blend.
Light gold in color, this wine has a nose of wet granite, clover honey, and lemon blossom scents. In the mouth it is angular and explosively bright with juicy lemon-flavored acidity and lean mineral qualities that mellow into cold cream and soft texture as the wine finishes lovely and long. $40. Where to buy?

2007 Ken Forrester Wines "The FMC" Chenin Blanc.
Light gold in color, this wine has a gorgeous nose of white flowers, honey, and fresh, ripe pear aromas. In the mouth it is crisp and just slightly off-dry, with lightly sweet flavors of poached pear and flowers that linger in a long, long finish. Likely a beautiful cheese wine. $49. Where to buy?

2007 Ses'fikile Wines "Matriarch" Sauvignon Blanc. $??.
2006 Cape Point Vineyards "Isliedh" Sauvignon Blanc. $30. Where to buy?
2007 Cape Point Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc. $7-14. Where to buy?

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2006 Mulderbosch Vineyards "Barrel Fermented" Chardonnay. $50 or more
2007 Mulderbosch Vineyards "Steen op Hout" Chenin Blanc. $14-30
2006 Simonsig Wine Estate "Kaapse Vonkel" Pinot Noir. $14-30
2008 Avondale Bio-LOGIC & Organic Wines Chenin Blanc. $7-14
2007 Avondale Bio-LOGIC & Organic Wines "The Weir" Chardonnay. $14-30
2008 Painted Wolf Wines "Castle View" Viognier. $30-50
2007 La Motte Chardonnay. $14-30
2006 De Wetshof Estate "Estate Bateleur" Chardonnay. $50 or more
2008 Graham Beck Wines "Pheasants Run" Sauvignon Blanc. $30-50
2003 Graham Beck Wines "Cuvee Clive Sparkling Wine" Chardonnay. $??
2005 Springfield Estate "Wild Yeast" Chardonnay. $14-30
2008 Vergelegen "Reserve" Sauvignon Blanc. $30-50
2008 Franschhoek Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc. $7-14
NV Quando Sauvignon Blanc. $14-30
2007 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay. $22
2008 Mischa Estate "Eventide Cellar" Viognier. $14-30
2008 Cederberg Private Cellars Bukettraube. $??
2006 Cederberg Private Cellars "Five Generations" Chenin Blanc. $??
2008 Cederberg Private Cellars "Ghost Corner David Nieuwoudt" Sauvignon Blanc. $??
2008 Beyerskloof Sauvignon Blanc. $??
2007 Hartenberg Estate Sauvignon Blanc. $7-14
2007 Hartenberg Estate Weisser Riesling. $7-14
2007 Paul Cluver Wine Estate Chardonnay. $30-50
2007 The Winery of Good Hope "Black Rock White Blend" Chenin Blanc. $30-50
2004 Cape Point Vineyards Sauvingon Blanc. $??
2005 Cape Point Vineyards "Isliedh" Sauvingon Blanc. $??
2007 L'Avenir Chardonnay. $14-30
2007 L'Avenir Chenin Blanc. $14-30
2008 Ken Forrester Wines Sauvignon Blanc. $14-30

WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2007 Rudera Wines Chenin Blanc. $??
2005 Mulderbosch Vineyards Chardonnay. $30-50
2007 Mulderbosch Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc. $30-50
2008 Simonsig Wine Estate "Sunbird" Sauvignon Blanc. $14-30
2007 Avondale Bio-LOGIC & Organic Wines "Green Duck - The Dutchess" Chenin Blanc. $14-30
2008 Avondale Bio-LOGIC & Organic Wines Sauvignon Blanc. $7-14
2008 Painted Wolf Wines White Blend. $??
2008 La Motte "Pierneef" Sauvignon Blanc. $30-50
2008 De Wetshof Estate "Danie de Wet Limestone Hill" Chardonnay. $14-30
2005 De Wetshof Estate "D'Honneur" Chardonnay. $30-50
2008 Graham Beck Wines Sauvignon Blanc. $14-30
2005 Graham Beck Wines "Brut Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine" Chardonnay. $??
NV Graham Beck Wines "Bliss Demi-Sec Sparkling Wine". $??
2005 Springfield Estate "Methode Ancienne" Chardonnay. $30-50
2008 Springfield Estate "Special Cuvee" Sauvignon Blanc. $14-30
2008 Klein Constantia Estate Sauvignon Blanc. $14-30
2007 Steenberg Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc. $14-30
2007 Barton Vineyards Chenin Blanc. $??
2008 Barton Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc. $??
2007 Uva Mira Vineyards "Single Vineyard" Chardonnay. $30-50
2007 Vergelegen Chardonnay. $14-30
2007 Vergelegen Chardonnay. $30-50
2008 Vergelegen Sauvignon Blanc. $14-30
2007 Vergelegen Semillon. $30-50
2007 Franschhoek Vineyards Chenin Blanc. $7-14
2008 Waterford Estate Sauvignon Blanc. $20
2007 Lammershoek Winery Chenin Blanc. $14-30
2007 Lammershoek Winery "Roulette Blanc" Chenin Blanc. $14-30
NV Iona Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc. $14-30
2008 Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc. $14-30
2007 Bouchard Finlayson "Crocodile's Lair / Kaaimansgat" Chardonnay. $30-50
2008 Cederberg Private Cellars Chenin Blanc. $??
2005 Hartenberg Estate "The Elanor" Chardonnay. $30-50
2008 Ataraxia Wines Sauvignon Blanc. $??
2008 Paul Cluver Wine Estate Gewurztraminer. $14-30
2008 Paul Cluver Wine Estate Sauvignon Blanc. $14-30
2008 The Winery of Good Hope "Land of Hope" Chenin Blanc. $14-30
2006 Cape Point Vineyards Semillon. $14-30
2008 Cape Point Vineyards "Stonehaven" Sauvignon Blanc. $5-7
2008 Ken Forrester Wines "Petit" Chenin Blanc. $5-7
2007 Jordan Winery Chenin Blanc. $14-30
2007 Jordan Winery "Nine Yards" Chardonnay. $30-50

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2007 Rudera Wines Chenin Blanc. $??
2007 Simonsig Wine Estate Chardonnay. $14-30
2008 Simonsig Wine Estate Chenin Blanc. $7-14
NV Avondale Bio-LOGIC & Organic Wines "Brut Methode Cap Classique" Chardonnay. $14-30
2008 La Motte Sauvignon Blanc. $14-30
2008 De Wetshof Estate "Lesca" Chardonnay. $14-30
2008 Springfield Estate "Life From Stone" Sauvignon Blanc. $14-30
2007 Klein Constantia Estate "Rhine Riesling" Riesling. $14-30
2007 Steenberg Vineyards Semillon. $30-50
2006 Barton Vineyards Chenin Blanc. $??
2006 Ses'fikile Wines "Rain Song" Chenin Blanc. $??
2008 Uva Mira Vineyards "Cellar Selection" Sauvignon Blanc. $14-30
2008 M'hudi Sauvignon Blanc. $16
2007 Meerlust Estate Chardonnay. $30-50
2007 Dombeya Wines Chardonnay. $7-14
2008 Franschhoek Vineyards Chardonnay. $7-14
2007 Fairview Viognier. $??
2008 Waterford Estate "Pecan Stream" Chenin Blanc. $12
2007 Waterford Estate Chardonnay. $24
2005 Bon Cap Organic Wines "MCC" Chardonnay. $7-14
2007 Jason's Hill Private Cellar Viognier. $5
2007 Iona Vineyards Chardonnay. $14-30
2008 Bouchard Finlayson "Blanc de Mer" Weisser Riesling. $7-14
2007 Bouchard Finlayson "Sans Barrique" Chardonnay. $14-30
2008 Bouchard Finlayson "Walker Bay" Sauvignon Blanc. $14-30
2008 Mischa Estate "Eventide Cellar" Sauvignon Blanc. $14-30
2007 Cederberg Private Cellars "Ghost Corner David Nieuwoudt" Semillon. $??
2007 The Winery of Good Hope "Vinum" Chenin Blanc. $14-30
2007 The Winery of Good Hope" Radford Dale" Viognier. $??
2008 L'Avenir Sauvignon Blanc. $14-30
2008 Ken Forrester Wines "Petit" Chenin Blanc. $14-30
2008 Jordan Winery "Chameleon" Sauvignon Blanc. $14-30
2007 Jordan Winery Chardonnay. $14-30
2008 Jordan Winery Sauvignon Blanc. $14-30

WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8 AND 8.5
2008 De Wetshof Estate "Estate Bon Vallon" Chardonnay. $14-30
2007 Scali Chenin Blanc. $24
2008 Dombeya Wines Sauvignon Blanc. $5-7
NV Bon Cap Organic Wines "The Ruins" Sauvignon Blanc. $5
NV Quando Chenin Blanc. $14-30
2008 Cederberg Private Cellars Sauvignon Blanc. $??
2008 Beyerskloof Chenin Blanc. $5-7

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8
2008 RAKA Chenin Blanc. $??

WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 7.5 AND 8
2008 Teddy Hall Wines Chenin Blanc. $?? 7.75
NV Bon Cap Organic Wines "The Ruins" Chardonnay. $5 7.75
2008 Jordan Winery "Bradgate" Sauvignon Blanc. $?? 7.75

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE UNDER 7.5
2008 Springfield Estate "Firefinch" Sauvignon Blanc. $7-14
2008 Barton Vineyards White Blend. $??
2008 Bon Cap Organic Wines Viognier. $7-14
2008 RAKA Sauvignon Blanc. $14-30
2005 Wedderwill Wine Estate Sauvignon Blanc. $14-30


Pink Wines

PINK WINES SCORING BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
2008 Glen Carlou Vineyards "Tortoise Hill" Pinotage Rosé. $7-14 Where to buy?

2006 Graham Beck Wines Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine (Pinot Noir).
Pale rose pink in the glass with medium bubbles, this wine has a nose of bright citrus and warm brioche aromas. In the mouth it has a very fine mousse foam with beautiful flavors of rosehips, melon, and floral notes that creep in towards the back of the throat. Delicious. $20. Where to buy?

PINK WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2008 Beyerskloof Pinotage Rosé.
Pale salmon in color, this wine has a nose of wet leaves, rosehips, and orange peel aromas. In the mouth it is tangy and lively with acidity that wraps around flavors of orange peel, raspberry, and rosehips. Crisp, clean, and delightful, this wine makes me wonder if maybe the destiny of Pinotage is to make pink wines. $10. Where to buy?

PINK WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2008 Graham Beck Wines Malbec Rosé. $7-14
2008 Golden Kaan Limited Pinotage Rosé. $7-14

PINK WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2008 Mulderbosch Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé. $14-30

PINK WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8 AND 8.5
NV Bon Cap Organic Wines "The Ruins" Shiraz Rosé. $5

PINK WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8
2008 RAKA Rosé. $7-14
2008 Jordan Winery "Chameleon" Shiraz Rosé. $14-30


Red Wines

RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5
2005 Sequillo Cellars Red Blend.
Inky garnet in color, this blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre has a beautiful dark nose of mulberry, earth, and cassis aromas. In the mouth it is the wine equivalent of Valentino in his prime -- utterly seductive, dark, and just exotic enough to be mysterious. Rich, textured, complex flavors of cassis, mulberry, and other dark fruits, juicy with great acidity, linger into a long finish where the faintest hint of tannins emerge, but only for those paying close attention. And it's hard to pay attention when all this wine makes you want to do is swallow, swallow, and swallow some more. $35. Where to buy?

2006 Sadie Family Wines "Columella" Red Rhone Blend.
Dark ruby in the glass, this blend of Syrah and Mourvedre has a nose of bright cassis, blackberry, and grape aromas. In the mouth it is...there's no other way to put it....rockin' with flavor: cassis, blackberry, black cherry, and other rich ripe dark fruits swirl in a concoction that is shot through with a dry minerality and deep complex texture that evokes some of the best wines of the Northern Rhone. If I am reading my sloppy tasting note correctly, I believe the finish was described in the moment as "hot damn." $85. Where to buy?

RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
2007 De Wetshof Estate "Danie de Wet Nature in Concert" Pinot Noir $7-14
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine has a bright nose of pomegranate and cranberry aromas with hints of herbs. In the mouth it is juicy and bright with great acidity that carries flavors of cranberry, cherry, and a woody cedar note that carries through the very long finish. Tasty. $??

2005 Stellekaya Winery "Orion" Cabernet Sauvignon.
Intense, inky ruby in color, this wine has an intruiging nose of piney, savory, almost chewy aromas that include black pepper, dirt, and a hint of green bell pepper. On the palate the wine is classic cherry, cedar, and pipe tobacco flavors, with a nice balance and hints of espresso on the moderate finish. Complex, nuanced, and yummy. $7-14.

2003 Meerlust Estate "Rubicon" Cabernet Sauvignon.
Poured out of a 1.5 liter bottle, this wine is bright medium ruby colored in the glass, with aromas of cedar, cherry, and fresh pine. In the mouth it is beautifully textured, perfectly balanced and juicy with flavors of cherry, sandalwood, plum, and hints of sawdust among the light tannins that emerge as the wine finishes long and lovely. $25. Where to buy?

2005 Lammershoek Winery "Roulette" Shiraz.
Medium garnet in color, this wine has a bright, fruity nose of pure cassis. In the mouth it is beatifully dry and smooth with deep earth, leather, and cassis flavors tinged by herbs. The finish is long, lean and resonant. $21. Where to buy?

2004 Kanonkop Wine Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.
Medium garnet in color, this wine has a nose of cherry, tobacco and espresso aromas. In the mouth it offers primary flavors of espresso, cherry, and tobacco, knt together with fine grained tannins and nice acidity. The wine has an elegance that is exemplified by its long finish. $25.

2005 Kanonkop Wine Estate "Paul Sauer" Cabernet Sauvignon.
Dark garnet in color, this wine has a rich nose of cedar and black cherry aromas. On the tongue it is a velvet caress of black cherry, earth and tobacco flavors. The tannnins are soft and beautifully structured, balanced perfectly with the wines acidity and weight. The overall quality of this wine that sticks in the mind is its smoothness. Outstanding. $40. Where to buy?

2006 Cederberg Private Cellars Shiraz.
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine has a luscious nose of blackberry fruit with a spicy, meaty undertone that leans the aromas distinctly towards the savory end of the spectrum. In the mouth it is bright and round and full of cassis and blackberry flavors with a hint of leather on the finish. Delicious. $25. Where to buy?

2006 L'Avenir" Grand Vin" Pinotage.
Inky garnet in color, this wine has a very pretty nose of floral and ripe plum aromas. In the mouth it offers rich flavors of cherry, cocoa powder, raspberry and cranberry all swirling around on silk textures. Faint tannins, nice acidit, and a long beautiful finish round out one of the best Pinotages I have ever had. $30-50.

2006 The Winery of Good Hope "Radford Dale" Shiraz. $30-50.
2007 Mischa Estate "Not yet named" Bordeaux Blend. $N/A
2004 Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards Shiraz. $50. Where to buy?
2006 Stark-Condé "Three Pines" Shiraz. $35.


RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2006 Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards "Theta" Shiraz. $50
2005 Kleinood (Tamboerskloof Syrah/Viognier) Shiraz. $7-14
2006 Stark-Condé "Stellenbosch" Cabernet Sauvignon. $25
2006 Stellekaya Winery Shiraz. $7-14
2005 Glen Carlou Vineyards "Grand Classique" Cabernet Sauvignon. $30-50
2006 Glen Carlou Vineyards "Gravel Quarr" Cabernet Sauvignon. $50 or more
2003 Avondale Bio-LOGIC & Organic Wines "Les Pleurs" Shiraz. $30-50
2006 Painted Wolf Wines "Borg Family" Shiraz. $14-30
2007 Painted Wolf Wines "Cape Blend" Shiraz. $14-30
2007 Painted Wolf Wines Pinotage. $14-30
2007 Painted Wolf Wines Shiraz. $??
2004 Morgenster Estate Merlot. $??
2004 Morgenster Estate "Lourens River Valley" Merlot. $??
2006 Morgenster Estate "Tosca" Sangiovese. $??
2002 Springfield Estate "Methode Ancienne" Cabernet Sauvignon. $50 or more
2003 Vergelegen "Red" Cabernet Sauvignon. $50 or more
2004 Vergelegen "V" Cabernet Sauvignon. $50 or more
2004 Meerlust Estate "Rubicon" Cabernet Sauvignon. $30-50
2005 Dombeya Wines "Samara" Cabernet Sauvignon. $14-30
2006 Mvemve Raats "De Compostella" Cabernet Sauvignon. $50 or more
2007 Waboomsrivier Wine Cellar Pinotage. $5
2007 Iona Vineyards Shiraz. $30-50
2006 Kanonkop Wine Estate Pinotage. $14-30
2006 Vins D'Orrance "Cuvee Ameena" Shiraz. $??
2005 Cederberg Private Cellars "Five Generations" Cabernet Sauvignon. $??
2008 Cederberg Private Cellars "Teen Die Hoog - Cape Winemakers Guild" Shiraz. $??
2004 Beyerskloof "Field Blend" Cape Blend. $??
2005 Hartenberg Estate "The Stork" Shiraz. $??
2006 Ataraxia Wines "Serenity" Shiraz. $??
2005 Luddite Wines Shiraz. $??
2006 The Winery of Good Hope "Black Rock Red Blend" Shiraz. $30-50
2008 The Winery of Good Hope "Radford Dale Gravity" Bordeaux Blend. $50 or more
2006 Cape Point Vineyards "Scarborough" Cabernet Sauvignon. $5-7
2006 L'Avenir Pinotage. $14-30
2005 Ken Forrester Wines "The Gypsy" Shiraz. $30-50
2004 Jordan Winery "Cobblers Hill" Cabernet Sauvignon. $30-50

RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2007 Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards "The Raptor Post" Shiraz. $50
2005 Rudera Wines Shiraz. $??
2006 Stark-Condé "Stellenbosch" Shiraz. $25
2006 Stark-Condé "Three Pines" Cabernet Sauvignon. $35
2006 Stellekaya Winery "Hercules" Sangiovese. $7-14
2004 Stellekaya Winery "Cape Cross" Merlot. $7-14
2006 Ernie Els Wines "Cirrus" Shiraz. $30-50
2006 Ernie Els Wines "Engelbrecht Els" Cabernet Sauvignon. $30-50
2006 Glen Carlou Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. $14-30
2007 Avondale Bio-LOGIC & Organic Wines "Jonty's Ducks" Shiraz. $14-30
2007 Painted Wolf Wines "Swartland" Merlot. $30-50
2007 Painted Wolf Wines Rhone Blend. $??
2006 La Motte "Pierneef" Shiraz. $30-50
2007 Graham Beck Wines "Gamekeeper's Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon. $30-50
2006 Graham Beck Wines "The Joshua" Shiraz. $30-50
2005 Scali Pinotage. $24
2006 Steenberg Vineyards Shiraz. $30-50
2006 Beaumont Wines Mourvedre. $30-50
2006 Beaumont Wines Pinotage. $14-30
2006 Barton Vineyards Shiraz. $??
2005 Uva Mira Vineyards "Vineyard Selection" Cabernet Sauvignon. $30-50
2005 Vergelegen Cabernet Sauvignon. $30-50
2006 Meerlust Estate Pinot Noir. $30-50
2004 Glenelly Cellars "Glenelly Hill" Shiraz. $??
2006 Dombeya Wines Shiraz. $14-30
2007 Franschhoek Vineyards Shiraz. $7-14
2007 Fairview "Caldera" Grenache. $??
2006 Fairview "Cyril Back" Shiraz. $??
2006 Fairview "Eenzaamheid (Solitude)" Shiraz. $??
2007 Fairview "Primo" Pinotage. $??
2005 Waterford Estate "Kevin Arnold" Shiraz. $35
2005 Waterford Estate "The Jem" Cabernet Sauvignon. $100
2006 RAKA "Biography" Shiraz. $30-50
2006 RAKA "Figurehead" Cabernet Sauvignon. $30-50
2004 RAKA "Quinary" Cabernet Sauvignon. $30-50
2005 Iona Vineyards "The Gunnar" Cabernet Sauvignon. $30-50
2007 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot Noir. $25
2007 Southern Right Pinotage. $14-30
2006 Bouchard Finlayson "Hannibal" Sangiovese. $30-50
2006 Mischa Estate Shiraz. $14-30
1983 Delheim" Grand Reserve" Bordeaux Blend. $??
2007 Kanonkop Wine Estate "Kadette" Pinotage. $7-14
2006 Cederberg Private Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon. $??
2005 Beyerskloof "Synergy Cape Blend" Cabernet Sauvignon. $14-30
2005 Hartenberg Estate Shiraz. $30-50
2004 Hartenberg Estate "The Mackenzie" Cabernet Sauvignon. $14-30
2007 Raats Family Wines Cabernet Franc. $30-50
2008 The Winery of Good Hope Pinotage. $7-14
2007 The Winery of Good Hope" Radford Dale" Shiraz. $??
2006 L'Avenir Cabernet Sauvignon. $14-30
2008 L'Avenir" Rosé de Pinotage" Pinotage. $7-14
2006 L'Avenir" Stellenbosch Classic" Bordeaux Blend. $??
2005 Ken Forrester Wines Shiraz. $14-30

RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2005 Rudera Wines Cabernet Sauvignon. $??
2006 Rudera Wines "Lola" Syrah. $??
2005 Mulderbosch Vineyards Shiraz. $50 or more
2004 Simonsig Wine Estate "Frans Malan" Pinotage. $14-30
2007 Simonsig Wine Estate "Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rose" Pinotage. $30-50
2004 Simonsig Wine Estate "Labyrinth" Cabernet Sauvignon. $14-30
2005 Simonsig Wine Estate "Merindol" Shiraz. $30-50
2002 Simonsig Wine Estate "Tiara" Cabernet Sauvignon. $30-50
2005 Stellekaya Winery Cabernet Sauvignon. $7-14
2006 Stellekaya Winery Merlot. $7-14
2004 Ernie Els Wines Cabernet Sauvignon. $50 or more
2006 Glen Carlou Vineyards Shiraz. $30-50
2004 Avondale Bio-LOGIC & Organic Wines "Camissa" Shiraz. $14-30
2005 Avondale Bio-LOGIC & Organic Wines "Green Duck - The Duke" Cabernet Franc. $14-30
2007 Avondale Bio-LOGIC & Organic Wines Pinotage. $??
2005 La Motte "Millenium" Cabernet Sauvignon. $14-30
2006 La Motte Shiraz. $14-30
2008 De Wetshof Estate "Danie de Wet Bio Rose" Merlot. $7-14
2003 Graham Beck Wines "The Ridge" Shiraz. $30-50
2005 Graham Beck Wines "The William" Cabernet Sauvignon. $14-30
2006 Horse Mountain Wines Pinotage. $14-30
2005 Scali Shiraz. $35
2003 Springfield Estate "The Work of Time" Merlot. $30-50
2006 Springfield Estate "Whole Berry" Cabernet Sauvignon. $14-30
2006 Steenberg Vineyards Merlot. $30-50
2004 Ses'fikile Wines "Matriarch" Shiraz. $??
2005 Uva Mira Vineyards "Cellar Selection" Merlot. $14-30
2006 M'hudi Merlot. $??
2005 Vergelegen "Mill Race" Cabernet Sauvignon. $14-30
2006 Vergelegen Shiraz. $30-50
2007 Franschhoek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. $7-14
2007 Fairview "Pinotage Viognier" Pinotage. $??
2007 Fairview Shiraz. $??
2006 Lammershoek Winery Pinotage. $14-30
2007 RAKA Pinotage. $??
2006 Golden Kaan Limited Pinotage. $7-14
2006 Slanghoek Cellar "Private Selection" Pinotage. $7-14
2007 Bouchard Finlayson "Galpin Peak" Pinot Noir. $30-50
2006 Mischa Estate "Eventide Cellar" Shiraz. $14-30
2005 Mischa Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. $14-30
2006 Muratie Wine Estate Pinot Noir. $??
2006 Cederberg Private Cellars "Cederberger" Merlot. $??
2007 Beyerskloof Pinotage. $7-14
2007 Beyerskloof "Reserve" Pinotage. $14-30
2005 Hartenberg Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. $14-30
2005 Hartenberg Estate Pinotage. $14-30
2005 Hartenberg Estate Merlot. $??
2008 The Winery of Good Hope "Vinum" Cabernet Sauvignon. $14-30
2005 Ken Forrester Wines "The Three Halves" Rhone Blend. $??

RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8 AND 8.5
2003 Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards "Theta" Shiraz. $50
2006 Simonsig Wine Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. $7-14
2004 Simonsig Wine Estate Shiraz. $14-30
2006 La Motte Cabernet Sauvignon. $14-30
2006 Morgenster Estate "Nabucco" Nebbiolo. $??
2005 Graham Beck Wines Shiraz. $14-30
2007 Beaumont Wines "Raoul's Old Basket Press" Tinta Barocca. $7-14
2004 Ses'fikile Wines "Matriarch" Cabernet Sauvignon. $??
2005 Vergelegen Merlot. $30-50
2008 Franschhoek Vineyards Merlot. $7-14
2007 Fairview Mourvedre. $??
2006 Waterford Estate "Pecan Stream Pebble Hill" Cabernet Sauvignon. $29
2006 Lammershoek Winery Shiraz. $30-50
2006 Lammershoek Winery Zinfandel. $14-30
2006 Bon Cap Organic Wines Pinotage. $15
2006 Muratie Wine Estate Shiraz. $??
2007 Paul Cluver Wine Estate Pinot Noir. $30-50
2006 Jordan Winery Cabernet Sauvignon. $30-50
2006 Jordan Winery "Bradgate" Syrah. $??

RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8
2008 Teddy Hall Wines Syrah. $??
2005 Simonsig Wine Estate Pinotage. $14-30
2006 Ayama Wines Pinotage. $??
2005 Meerlust Estate Merlot. $30-50
2007 Fairview Alicante Bouschet. $??
2004 RAKA Merlot. $30-50
2006 RAKA "Spliced" Merlot. $14-30
2006 Mischa Estate "Eventide Cellar" Cabernet Sauvignon. $14-30
2007 Mischa Estate Merlot. $14-30
2005 Hartenberg Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. $7-14
2006 L'Avenir Cabernet Franc. $14-30
2006 L'Avenir Merlot. $14-30
2006 Jordan Winery "Chameleon" Cabernet Sauvignon. $14-30
2006 Jordan Winery Merlot. $30-50

RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 7.5 AND 8
2004 Mulderbosch Vineyards "Faithful Hound" Cabernet Sauvignon. $30-50
2006 Springfield Estate "Firefinch Ripe Red" Merlot. $7-14
2006 M'hudi Pinotage. $??
2007 Jason's Hill Private Cellar Pinotage. $5
2008 Ken Forrester Wines "Petit" Pinotage. $5-7
2007 Jordan Winery "Bradgate" Bordeaux Blend. $??
2006 Fairview Tannat. $??
2006 Ken Forrester Wines "Petit" Cabernet Sauvignon. $5-7

RED WINES WITH A SCORE UNDER 7.5
2007 Rudera Wines "Lola" Syrah. $??
NV Bon Cap Organic Wines "The Ruins" Shiraz. $5
2006 Bon Cap Organic Wines "Cape Blend" Pinotage. $7-14
2006 Bon Cap Organic Wines Shiraz. $5-7
2006 Bon Cap Organic Wines Cabernet Sauvignon. $5-7


Comments (7)

11.17.08 at 4:18 AM

Alder, this article is simply over the top--in a good way. The best I've ever done is a little over 100 wines in the course of a week, and this past weekend at Pinot Days I realized just how out-of-condition my palate is when I had to give up after 31 wines. (I hang my head in shame.)

Glad you had a great trip!

Erica wrote:
11.17.08 at 5:47 PM

hi Alder

Did you have the opportunity to taste Vrughtbaar Cabernet Sauvignon? This was my favorite. Kanonkop and Te Toren are both very good as well as you noted above. Another one which I personally do not like that much, but which has rocked the charts is Diemersfontein Pinotage.
I'm a little disappointed with your comment with regard to Chenin Blanc in South Africa. I personally believe that this grape represents the biggest growth potential in South Africa. True that it is still in its developmental stages but in the long run this may be the varietal that South Africa can become known for. Any thoughts?

Erica wrote:
11.17.08 at 5:49 PM

hi Alder

Did you have the opportunity to taste Vrughtbaar Cabernet Sauvignon? This was my favorite. Kanonkop and Te Toren are both very good as well as you noted above. Another one which I personally do not like that much, but which has rocked the charts is Diemersfontein Pinotage.
I'm a little disappointed with your comment with regard to Chenin Blanc in South Africa. I personally believe that this grape represents the biggest growth potential in South Africa. True that it is still in its developmental stages but in the long run this may be the varietal that South Africa can become known for. Any thoughts?

David Scott wrote:
11.17.08 at 7:26 PM

Hiya Alder-

AWESOME! I wish I had done a format like this for the San Diego Wine and Food Festival. Quite informative, and excellent coverage of an up-and-coming region that a lot of folks may not be familiar with. Speaking of the Wine and Food Festival...

I tried a couple of South African creations, with only one inspiring to whip out my camera and wine journal.

The 2007 Sebeka Cabernet Pinotage (I am not sure of the percentages; the Pinotage grape, however, is an excellent choice for this region) was downright tasty. Toasted oak, fruit, blah blah blah...what got me on this was the lingering taste of slightly overdone chocolate cookies. Even the couple with me, who are definitely NOT winos, immediately commented that the wine tasted like cookies. I don't know if it was intentional, but it was excellent. Even more classic was the look on the guy's face at the booth - almost as if he was surprised we liked it. At any rate, the $6.99 price tag is definitely palatable, as I would probably pay $10-12 for this. According to the winery, it's available at all our major grocery chains here in California. I'm going to upload some pics to my own blog as soon as I get the time to pull all my photos off the camera!

Dylan wrote:
11.18.08 at 5:11 PM

Alder, simply incredible work ethic. Thank you for the effort you put into capturing the event and the effect it had on you. The only problem now is that my expectations have been raised even higher, though the way you enjoy wine, I hardly consider that to be a problem as much as a welcomed challenge.

Alder wrote:
11.19.08 at 8:01 PM

Erica,

I did not get to taste the Vrughtbaar. There was a lot I didn't taste. I did, however, get to taste all the Diemersfontein Pinotages and thought that the "Carpe Diem" Pinotage was excellent. Definitely a strong stylistic interpretation of the grape, but a very successful one to my palate.

With regards to Chenin Blanc, I fear that it is South Africa's equivalent to New Zealand's Pinot Gris. When I was in New Zealand everyone was raving about it, and I tasted some decent ones (and a lot of bad ones), but none that were really fantastic. There wasn't a single one of the dozens and dozens that I tasted that could hold a candle to a great Pinot Grigio from Italy or an Alsation Pinot Gris.

Likewise for Chenin in South Africa. Decent, but nothing remotely approaching profundity, and nowhere close to the personality of even an average Savennieres.

I don't mean to be discouraging, but I didn't taste a single wine that would lead me to the conclusion that SA might one day be known for it's Chenin.

Overall I would say that the Chardonnays I tasted had much more potential than Chenin.

12.03.08 at 2:29 PM

Alder,
Thank you for these very thorough, thoughtful and helpful reports on your South Africa tastings. I am just starting to learn about the great wines of South Africa, and you've given us a wealth of material that's not readily available.

Warm regards,
Richard

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