Wine Filter: South Africa

Groot Constantia, Pinotage 2014

Groot Constantia is a historic wine producer based in the South African region of Constantia, known as the historic wine-growing area based in the southern suburbs of Cape Town. This area is famous for its fabulous dessert wine, Vin de Constance.

The vineyards sit to the east of Table Mountain and enjoy a maritime climate thanks to the estate’s location near False Bay on the Cape Peninsula.

A rich cool climate Pinotage with a deep, dark red colour. Fresh fruits like juicy plums, cherries and black currant follow through on the palate to finish with a soft spicy aftertaste. A very sociable wine to have, especially with food.

Fish Hoek Chenin Blanc 2014

Consistently good value, you can’t go wrong with half a dozen bottles of this in your house for a mid-week glass after a hard day. South Africa means new world fruit of quince and apple, mixed with old world restraint, freshness and an elegant lift. A great wine with fish, a lovely wine with chicken and delicious wine on its own with a recorded episode of The Wine Show. Where you’ll probably learn that the glass seal on the bottle is called a ‘prunt’.

Meerlust Rubicon 2012

I have a real soft spot for Rubicon, a left-bank Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. This is still very young and the purple hue and bright fruit will withdraw, replaced by tobacco and cedar and a russet tinge. Today that sweetness matches with venison, but if 10 years, I’d be pairing this with a grouse or even a pheasant.

Waterford Estate Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

This isn’t just Stellenbosch, but Helderberg, the prized bit of vineyard land between Stellebosch and False Bay. Here the wines have an earthy complexity to the fruit and the kind of focussed currant core and neatly packed tannins that make for a great wine of the world. Great with food, this is made to go with lamb and pork and even some lighter game dishes.

La Motte Shiraz Viognier 2013

Relax into this wine and wallow for a bit. It’s seductive and lush and envelops you. It’s arguably the best Cote Rotie-a-like Shiraz-Viognier blend in South Africa. But its first duty is to be delicious and charm you. Perfume from the Viognier, blackcurrant and spice from the Shiraz and a lingering, violet note. Needs firm meats and rich flavours, ideally with a bit of hearty protein at their core.

Paul Cluver Wines Village Pinot Noir 2013

Good Pinot Noir is hard to come by. Good Pinot Noir for under ten pounds is a truly lovely thing to behold. Match this with lamb or a roasted vegetable risotto and you will imagine you have something twice the price. It has all the red fruit and silky structure of a classically structured Pinot Noir, made in a prime, cool location from top clones of the world’s most pernickety grape. A gem.

Bouchard Finlayson Hannibal 2013

Whilst Hannibal used African elephants to invade Italy, here the pachyderm charge is the other way. Italian varieties like Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Barbera mixed with Pinot Noir and others to create a complex, cherry and red-fruity wine with a leathery complexity. Think of Italian food and you’re there – it loves tomatoes and herb-infused grills. This is a fascinating wine and an innovation from one of South Africa’s great producer.

Catherine Marshall Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2013

This blew me away when I first tried it. A new frontier in South Africa’s distinctive style of Sauvignon Blanc, blending the exotic mango and lime fruit of the New World with the purity, elegance and great length of the Old. Don’t be afraid to pair this with flavoursome salads with coriander and lime and basil, perhaps soy-infused tuna or a spiced chicken dish. This is up there with the greats of Sauvignon Blanc.

Hamilton Russell Chardonnay Vineyards Hemel-en-Aarde 2014

A wine that changed South Africa. Not just for being one of the first to be globally recognised as one of the great wines of the world. Anthony Hamilton-Russell and his family are steeped in radical politics and were pioneers in creating a post-Apartheid, equitable wine industry. Drink like a fine burgundy with white meats and firm-fleshed fish to complement the pear and citrus fruit and fine oak.

Graham Beck Brut Rose Non Vintage

For years this has been quietly recommended for those with a Champagne taste but a beer budget. Drink in the exquisite colour, elegant crushed berry fruit and then the lingering perfume in the mouth that comes with traditional bottle ageing. Drink on the veranda, over dinner or just sitting in the bath.

Boschendal Le Grande Pavillion Brut Rose Non Vintage

Boschendal is a piece of South African history, a working farm since 1685. Today it’s known for making one of the best sparkling wines in the world, this pale-pink fizz with raspberry and red apple fruit. There’s a mouth-filling creamy mousse and biscuit complexity. It’s a gorgeous summer treat.

Graham Beck, The Game Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Every day Gerswin van Rooy defends this Cabernet Sauvignon from marauding raids by baboons. And you can see why they want to get it. Juicy, ripe and lush currant and blackberry fruit with pliable tannins. A great wine to have with pasta dishes and richly flavoured moussaka.

Graham Beck, The Game Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2014

The wheeling Fish Eagle on the label is a clue to the relationship between this wine and its ecosystem. In the bottle it’s a classic South African Sauvignon with tropical New World fruit and Old World, green pepper zip. Don’t be afraid to match this up to some fruity, spicy fish dishes as there’s plenty of matching flavour.

Graham Beck Brut Sparkling NV

Got a celebration coming up? Exam success, an engagement…? Perhaps becoming President of a newly-emancipated South Africa? Or Presidential candidate in the USA? Graham Beck has made wines to toast them all. Glorious drinking with lemon-lime zippy fruit and nutty, complex, lingering finish.

Buitenverwatching Muscat “1769” Vintage 2013

No, it’s not actually from the 1796 vintage. But like the Vin de Constance (these guys are next door) this is a wine that echoes the much-prized, apricot and apple sweet wines of the Georgian era.

The Wine-Farer Series Chenin Viognier 2013

Imagine starting not with a grape, nor a place but simply a taste. Then work back. This wine began with the idea to make a bright, fresh white with passion fruit juiciness perfect for modern, flavoursome salads and fish dishes. Mix vibrant Chenin Blanc, exotic Viognier and South African knowhow and out pops this beauty.

Ernie Els Wines Big Easy 2013

Professional golfer Ernie Els has impressed the wine world with his bold and thoughtful wines from South Africa. This one, named after his eponymous nickname, is a deep-upholstered massage chair of a wine; by turns relaxing, structured, fruity and surprising. Mostly peppery Shiraz, the smattering of other grapes makes it a versatile mid-week dinner party wine for interesting flavours.

Paul Cluver Wines Noble Late Harvest Riesling 2013

It’s easy to see why this wine is so acclaimed among wine lovers. Rich sweetness balances perfectly with uplifting freshness. There’s the tang of grapefruit and a spring-like, floral aroma. Stylish puds made with allspice and cinnamon love this wine.

Rustenberg Straw Wine 2012

This turns Tarte Tatin from a pudding into a magical experience. Spicy Chenin Blanc and exotic Viognier are dried on straw mats. This concentrates their sweetness whilst keeping an apricot-fresh flavour.

Boekenhoutskloof Noble Late Harvest Semillon Sweet Wine 2005

An homage to the great sweet wines of Bordeaux. The vanilla-cream richness comes from fermentation in barrels. This is a fuller, richer style of pudding wine, and one for fans of something sticky. I drink it with baked apples stuffed with raisins and Muscovado sugar.