South African wines: a Shortlist

In order to sum-up my wine experiences during my trip to Stellenbosch and the Cape Region of South Africa, here’s a list of white and red wines I enjoyed most. Some of these were already mentioned in previous postings, some others make their first appearance here.

White Wines


2010 Iona Sauvignon Blanc from Elgin. Very crisp and dry. Not much exotic fruit here which is due to the slightly cooler climate of Elgin. But still vibrant and with substance with grass and gooseberry on the fore. One that you could put away for a year. We had it at Ernie Els’ (the famous golfer) restaurant Big Easy, which I can recommend for its beautiful premises and relaxed atmosphere but also for their quality food. Especially the oysters we indulged there went perfectly with the Iona.

2010 Paul Clüver Sauvignon Blanc, also from Elgin. Similar to Iona with maybe a tad more fruit. But grass and tangy aromatics are dominant. Bought this one at a local wine-shop in Stellenbosch.


2010 Bouchard Finlayson Chardonnay Sans Barrique. I was looking hard for Chardonnays that were a bit less “New World” and found my first 2 specimens at Harbour House restaurant. This one indeed reminded me much more of Burgundy with its good balance and creamy texture. Intense nose of citrus fruit, nice acidity with a slight herbal complexity. Way to go for South African Chardonnays if you’re asking me.


2009 Rustenberg Roxton unoaked Chardonnay. Another winner from the Harbour House list, but with different patterns than the Bouchard. More on the white fruit string and with exotic spicy ginger tones, especially in the finish. Truly original and another way to go for SA Chards!



2008 Hannibal by Bouchard Finlayson was a fascinating red Cuvée. I picked the wine in a restaurant because I already enjoyed their non-oak Chardonnay and we weren’t disappointed. it is a quite unusual cuvée for South Africa with 50% Sangiovese, 22% Pinot, 13% Nebbiolo, 7% Mourvèdre, 6% Barbera and 2% Shiraz (funnily the waiter called it a Shiraz-based blend). I wonder how the winemaker came up with this combination, but it was really a good one. Delicious mocha and chocolate nose, wild herbs and berry fruit. Very gentle use of oak. Very nice balance on the palate, plus some berries and white pepper. Anytime again!


2006 Vineyard Selection Range Syrah by Neil Ellis. This one got me excited on 2 occasions. Once when we tasted it at the estate. And a second time when a day later we popped open the bottle we bought. It shows its true face only when you drink it over 2 days since it needs a lot of air. It shows closed at first, but on day 2 it rather reminds of a concentrated olive paste with herbs. Fabulous.


2007 Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir, Franschoek. A Pinot which we had at our night in le Quartier Francais and which impressed me with its relative lightness  for a South African Pinot. But even more fascinating was its earthy nose of German “Schwarzbrot” (dark bread). Good stuff.


2008 Groote Post Pinot Noir Reserve. A Pinot we indulged at Asara estate’s restaurant. We enjoyed the combination of bright cherry fruit within a  full bodied wine that never seemed too fat and was a good companion for our steaks.

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  1. Wine Rambler Said,

    The Rustenberg Chardonnay sounds particularly interesting. Thanks for sharing those, Alex, a few more names to put on my list!

  2. Blindtaster Said,

    Yes, it was quite interesting with aromatics out of the ordinary. I swear it felt like ginger spice! Cheers

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