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Our Top Picks: 10 Award-Winning South African Wines

South Africa is known for its diverse terroirs, favorable climate, and rich winemaking heritage, she is a leading global producer of exceptional wines. This article explores the top 10 award-winning South African wines, showcasing their unique flavors, complexity, and exceptional quality. What is Wine in South Africa?

Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grapes, with most commonly used grape varieties being Vitis vinifera. Fermentation converts sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide, creating distinct flavors and aromas. Fruit wines, like plum or blackberry, can also be made from fermented fruits. South Africa, a major wine producer, has a rich winemaking tradition dating back to the 17th century.

History of South African Wine

South Africa’s wine-making tradition was influenced by Dutch settlers and French Huguenots. It began in Cape Town in 1659. Today, South African winemakers have embraced modern techniques while preserving the essence of their heritage.

Types Of South African Wines

South African wines are categorized into white, red, and rosé, each with unique flavors and character. White wines include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinotage, and Merlot.

Top 10 Award-Winning South African Wines

Explore award winners from competitions like Platter’s South African Wine Guide, SA National Wine Challenge, or International Wine Challenge to discover South African wines. Here are some highly-rated South African wines that have consistently garnered awards:

#1 Kanonkop Pinotage

Kanonkop Pinotage is a highly regarded South African wine known for its complex and deep flavors, including plums, blackberries, cherries, spice, earth, and smoke. It is a perennial award winner and has been revived by winemaker Johan Abet Ebzdien, showcasing its potential for high-quality wines.

#2 Sadie Family Wines Columella

The Sadie Family Columella is a highly regarded red blend wine from South Africa’s Swartland region, crafted by winemaker Eben Sadie. It is a blend of Mediterranean red grape varieties, known for its complexity and balance. The wine is recommended for aging for at least 8 years after the vintage year. It has consistently received high ratings from critics, with recent vintages scoring 94 points and 4.5 stars.

#3 Rust en Vrede Estate 1694 Classification

Rust en Vrede, a prestigious Stellenbosch vineyard, produces a unique Limited Edition Blend, named “1694”, focusing on Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is full-bodied, complex, and pronounced with black fruits, spice, and floral notes. Aged in oak barrels, it is highly rated by critics and considered a top-tier South African wine.

#4 AA Badenhorst Kalmoesfontein Red

AA Badenhorst Kalmoesfontein Red, a 2021 South African blend, is a complex red with notes of black pepper, licorice, dark fruit, and floral hints. The wine is expected to be dense with dark fruit and lavender flavors, with well-integrated tannins and a dry finish. The winemaker, Adi Badenhorst, is known for his skill and excitement in South Africa.

#5 Thelema Mountain Red

Thelema, a family-owned winery in South Africa, produces a blend of Shiraz, Grenache, and Petit Verdot grapes. The wine has a soft, juicy palate with well-rounded tannins and a long finish, making it suitable for light to medium-flavored meals like pizza or barbecue. It won the Double Gold Award at the Gold Wine Awards 2023.

#6 Jordan Nine Yards Chardonnay

Jordan Wines’ Jordan Nine Yards Chardonnay is a highly regarded white wine from Stellenbosch, South Africa. It is a reserve style, aged in oak barrels, with a refreshing acidity and mouth-filling fruit flavors. Originating from cooler, south-facing slopes with decomposed granite soil, it has been awarded “Best Chardonnay in the World” twice by Decanter magazine.

#7 Constantia Uitsig Natura

Constantia Uitsig Natura is a South African white wine blend made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes, with complex flavors like sweet melon and lime, balanced by oak and oak, and a long finish.

#8 Vergelegen GVB White

Vergelegen GVB White is a white wine blend from Stellenbosch, South Africa, made from Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Viognier, and Chenin Blanc. It has a pale straw color, aromas of passion fruit, melon, peach, vanilla, and toasted oak, and a silky texture with refreshing acidity. It is considered one of Vergelegen’s top white wines.

# 9 Hartenberg The Eleanor Chardonnay

Eleanor Finlayson, the matriarch of Hartenberg Estate, is honored in this Chardonnay, produced in the Stellenbosch region of South Africa. Crafted using the finest Chardonnay grapes and aged in French oak barrels, it offers a complex flavor profile with hints of vanilla, butterscotch, honey, and peach.

#10 Vrede en Lust Barrique

Vrede en Lust Barrique is a Bordeaux-styled white wine from Stellenbosch, South Africa, primarily made from Semillon grapes and a touch of Sauvignon Blanc. Its rich, complex flavor profile includes earthy notes, quince, lingering mineral notes, and refreshing acidity. Recommended for pairing with seared tuna or sashimi, it received a Double Gold Award from the National Wine Challenge in 2018.

Food Pairing Recommendations For South African Wines

Here are some general recommendations to get you started:

Sauvignon Blanc: A crisp and refreshing choice, perfect for lighter fare like seafood (oysters, prawns, grilled fish), salads, goat cheese, or even sushi.

Chenin Blanc: This versatile grape can be dry or off-dry. Dry Chenin Blanc goes well with chicken, fish, and spicy dishes. Off-dry styles complement Asian cuisine and curries.

Semillon & Blends: Semillon-based blends, like Vrede en Lust Barrique, tend to be richer and can handle bolder flavors. Try them with roasted chicken, creamy pasta dishes, or even pork.

Pinotage: South Africa’s signature grape. Depending on the style, Pinotage can be fruity and lighter (pair with sausages, burgers, or barbecued meats) or fuller-bodied (enjoy with red meat, stews, or game meats).

Shiraz/Syrah: A bold and robust wine, perfect for grilled steaks, roasts, or hearty stews.

Cabernet Sauvignon: Another full-bodied option, ideal for red meat, lamb, or aged cheeses.

Where can I purchase these Award-Winning South African Wines?

  • Wine In The Warehouse ([wine in the warehouse ON Wine In The Warehouse wineinthewarehouse.co.za]) (South African retailer)
  • Firstleaf: https://www.firstleaf.com/ (US retailer)
  • Vinello: https://www.vinello.at/en/south-african-wine (European retailer)

In conclusion, South Africa’s wine industry is renowned for its commitment to quality, innovation, and sustainability, with its top 10 award-winning wines showcasing its rich viticultural heritage.

Source. scoutafrica.net

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