Do you enjoy drinking wine and maybe consider yourself to be a wine enthusiast? If so, have you ever visited the Cape Winelands? Since the whirlwind called COVID-19 hit us and local travel has become the new normal, the beautiful Cape Winelands should be a priority on your local vacation to-do list. After all, many of the best wines in the world are made right here in sunny South Africa.
South African wines are good. Really good. Ask the experts!
Last year September a special tasting was held at the Westin Hotel in Cape Town. There Tim Atkin said that South Africa is the most exciting wine-making country in the world at the moment and that as South Africans, we should stop doubting ourselves and be proud and confident, as our wines are brilliant!
Who is Tim Atkin and why is what he says so valuable? To start off, he is a British Master of Wine and an award-winning wine journalist, broadcaster and commentator. A judge of several international wine competitions with a huge international following. He has won a handful of awards which include the Glenfiddich Wine Writer Award, Lanson’s Wine Writer of the Year, the UK’s Wine Columnist of the Year and he was the very first recipient of the Wines of France Award. This gentleman knows his wine.
Annually he release a report, this is regarded as not only one of the most detailed reports, but also an authoritative overview of SA wine (the full report is available on timatkin.com).
The 2020 report was released on 10 September and for the second time ever Tim Atkin awarded the highest mark possible to a New World wine.
"This year I have awarded two perfect scores of 100 points; these are only the second and third wines ever to receive this accolade (the first was Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2015, in 2018),” he says. “These remarkable, world-class wines are the 2018 Porseleinberg Syrah from the Swartland and the 2019 Sadie Family Skurfberg Chenin Blanc from Olifants River.
“Not only that, but 23 other wines scored 97 points or higher. Chenin Blanc is the standout grape this time, with 32 Chenins scoring 95 points or more, but rarer grapes such as Colombard, Tinta Barocca and Palomino also featured among my 153 wines of the year. I salute all the winning winemakers and viticulturists for their fantastic efforts and can’t wait to see them in person again soon.”
Let's just take a moment. Two 100 point wines to South African winemakers? This is big!
Sadie Family Wines (scored 100 points for the 2019 Sadie Family Skurfberg Chenin Blanc ) released this video:
"We usually have public tastings at the cellar during the weekend preceding our release, but this year we had to cancel the tastings due to the general ban on the serving of alcohol in public spaces in the Covid-19 lockdown."
The beautiful farm where the 100 points 2018 Porseleinberg Syrah was grown:
"Porseleinberg is a tough hilltop farm in the Swartland that yields South Africa’s most epic Syrah. Tended with love and care by Callie Louw, a grower for Boekenhoutskloof, the land atop the Porseleinberg on the outskirts of the Swartland is known for its notoriously hardcore blue schist. Callie is a member of the Swartland Independent Producers, a group of Swartland winemakers that have been taking the region’s winemaking practices into a bold new direction ever since they officially joined forces in 2010. His approach with his Porseleinberg Syrah is to make a wine with a sense of place and time, that differs from one year to the next as an expression of the here and now."
Bravo Sadie Family Wines, bravo Porseleinberg, you make South Africa proud!
Tim Atkin MW South Africa Report: The Podium 2020
also awarded the following:
Yes, from Boekenhoutskloof to Calitzdorp - South African Winelands is your oyster and a gem to explore!
Ok, so we’ve established that our wines are good. What about the vineyards?
There is this very special panel of experts, they are made up of nearly 500 wine aficionados, sommeliers and luxury travel correspondents from across the globe who analyze 1500 wineries from 17 countries. They divide the world into geographical regions and after a fair process, they award the prize to the World’s Best Vineyards (worldsbestvineyards.com).
Three South African vineyards have been included in the top 50 list of the World’s Best Vineyard 2019 competition.
34 - Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West
39 - Delaire Graff Estate in Stellenbosch
45 - Creation Wines in Hermanus
World-class vineyards. On our doorstep.
Planning that trip already? Here's a good place to start :)
The top 3 vineyards is a good starting point to include in your trip. These three wine farms will provide beautiful tasting experiences, interesting winery tours, magnificent gardens, dining options that stretch from picnics, bistro lunches all the way through to fancy fine dining. This is only but the start! There are hundreds more not to be missed, they are all neatly packaged in 23 various wine routes to explore at your leisure. Yes, 23! To name a view: Constantia Wine Route, Durbanville Wine Route, Breedekloof Wine Valley, Franschhoek Wine Valley, Paarl Wine Route, Robertson Wine Valley, Stellenbosch Wine Routes, Tulbagh Wine Route, Wellington Wine Route, Worcester Wine & Olive Route, Klein Karoo Wine Route, Plettenberg Bay Winelands, Bot Rivier Wine Route, Elgin Valley Wine Route, Aghulas Wine Route, Hemel-en-Aarde Wine Route, Stanford Wine Route, Darling Wine Route, Santam Swartland Wine & Olive Route, West Coast Wine Route. Deep breath. So much wine, so little time!!
For a handy South African Wine Routes Map, click here to download your very own.
In August 2020 the Western Cape government (together with Wesgro) launched the “We Are Open” domestic tourism campaign to urge South Africans to take advantage and explore the beauty and diversity of the many affordable and world-class attractions that the Western Cape has to offer – including the Winelands and various vineyards.
To further assist in planning the perfect trip, assure to follow a hashtag-trend that is peaking at the moment: #visitwinelands. Here you will find extra interesting snippets of information on who’s doing what in the Winelands – from wineries giveaways to exclusive tasting offerings.
Never take the smaller, less-known wine farms for granted. You will be greatly rewarded when including them into your trip. There you can savor the ambience and enjoy smaller, more intimate tastings, sometimes even meet the winemakers and those who normally work behind the scenes of our world-class wines. As Robert Frost so beautifully states:
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less travelled by,
and that has made all the difference."
South African wine lover
Ernest Hemmingway said it best “Wine and friends are a great blend”. Choosing a wine to give as a gift is a great way to show you care. Care for your friends and care about the South African wine industry.
The silly season is upon us, the time to give some thought to gift shopping has arrived. Your gift list includes a family member, a beloved friend or a new boss? You’ve been invited to a birthday party, an engagement party or maybe a year-end dinner party your boss is hosting? Luckily wine is the gift solution for most occasions and suitable for any gender.
Which wine do I choose and where to buy it?
For the everyday gift, there are luckily many affordable options available when it comes to SA wines. An excellent resource to bookmark or add to your favourite list is Topwinesa.com. They are a superb resource and will lead you to top South African wines that sell under R100 per bottle! Topwinesa.com states that they are listing “every South African wine at under R100 a bottle to receive a good review from one or more of the top tasting panels on the planet in 2019 and 2020.” For easy reference, they've categorised wines under whites, pinks, reds and sweet.
If you aim to give a South African bottle of vino that impress, Georgina Hindle (Deputy editor of Decanter.com, currently residing in France) chose 10 top South African wines worth seeking out – this is her choice with some notes:
In post COVID world, physical retail shopping is not always the most practical of choices when it comes to shopping.
Luckily there are wonderful options available for the wine shoppers. How does a bottle of wine, presented in a custom laser engraved wine box sound? Now that is something special and also why Winegifts.co.za is a sure favourite to many South Africans. They give their customers an easy solution as an online one-stop-shop for wine and all things wine-related. “Wine gifting can be small but it is loaded with meaning. It can symbolize personal enjoyment, friendship, status, achievement, success or happiness to name but a few.” They specialize in creating unique, customisable gifts and have been doing it since 2010!
Another excellent online shop is Winecellar.co.za. Their shop is cleverly divided into helpful categories to make your choice a little bit easier - choose by wine style (red, white, rosé… all the way through to fortified), by region, by category (from investment wines to under R150!), their favourites, highly rated wines and even Platter 5*. They also have a fantastic feature where they list wine tastings to be hosted in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
In closing, I celebrate South African wines, winemakers and all involved in the wine industry - I also celebrate wine sales being open again. In this, why not share the "give the gift of wine" idea and appeal to everybody to #DrinkSouthAfrican and #SupportSaWine wherever they are in the world and to encourage friends and family to do the same. Cheers to drinking wine again!
South African wine lover