Here are a few things you need to add to your 2020 wine bucket list! Taste wine from different regions – Diversity is the biggest calling card for South Africa. Apart from the five growing regions in the Western Cape, five more geographical units include the likes of KZN, 28 districts and 87 smaller wards.
1. De Grendel Elim Shiraz 2017 – 95
Apparently this is the best wine overall in the Shiraz Report. Charles Hopkins of De Grendel has long been a champion of Elim as an area capable of high-quality Shiraz, his thinking emphatically born out by this wine. Total production was just 1 344 magnums and these are only available to loyalty club members so best you sign up!
2. Miles Mossop Saskia 2016 – 97
Is there a more precise winemaker than Miles Mossop? That was perhaps the defining character of his wines during this 18-year-stint at Tokara and it’s again evident in this own-label blend of 68% Chenin Blanc, 13% Clairette Blanche, 13% Verdelho and 6% Viognier, grapes from the Swartland and Voor Paardeberg.
3. Damascene Syrah 2018 – 97
Damascene is a new undertaking by Jean Smit, previously winemaker at Boekenhoutskloof, with David Curl, former owner of Bordeaux’s Chateau Gaby, as business partner. Shiraz/Syrah is South Africa’s most exciting red wine category right now and this maiden release from Bottleray and Polkadraai grapes comes in pretty close to the top.
4. Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve Port 2009 – 95
Best wine overall in the 10 Year Old Wine Report and not just of academic interest as it is currently available as a re-release selling for R880 a bottle. A blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barocca and Souzão, this is rich but impeccably well balanced. May this fortified tradition never die.
5. Lourens Family Wines Skuinskap Steen 2018 – 96
Franco Lourens is assistant to Chris Alheit of Alheit Vineyards but also has his own Lourens Family label, both sets of wines coming out of the Hemelrand cellar near Hermanus. There’s very much a shared aesthetic and this Skuinskap Steen from a 1977 Piekenierskloof vineyard doesn’t have to stand back to anything under the Alheit label.
6. Anysbos Disdit White blend 2018 – 96
Chenin-led white blends might be most closely associated with the Swartland but here’s one from Bot River that you shouldn’t overlook. Made by Marelise Niemann of Momento fame, this consists of 60% Chenin Blanc, 25% Roussanne and 15% Grenache Blanc – weight and texture but also verve.
7. Cape Point Vineyards Isliedh 2018 – 95
Best wine overall in the Sauv-Sem Blend/Wooded Sauvignon Blanc Report. What would happen after the 2016 departure of the highly skilled Duncan Savage from this Noordhoek property? His former assistant Riandri Visser took over and the wines simply go from strength to strength as this blend of 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Semillon proves.
8. Carinus Family Vineyards Rooidraai Chenin Blanc 2018 – 96
It’s complicated. Grape farmers Danie and Hugo Carinus, only distantly related, own the label. Widely admired Lukas van Loggerenberg makes the wine. Grapes come from Hugo’s Swartland property and the wine gets vinified in a hilltop shed on his Stellenbosch property. There’s a very good standard-label at about R150 a bottle and then there’s this at R275 a bottle. We say: Pay a little extra, get a lot more.
9. Rust en Vrede Estate 2016 – 94
Joint best wine in the Signature Red Blend Report. First made in 1988 when then winemaker Kevin Arnold (now of Waterford) saw fit to add Syrah to the existing Cab-Merlot premium red blend and hence deviate from the Bordeaux model, this is now a SA fine wine institution, the 2016 utterly on song.
10. Kaapzicht The 1947 Chenin Blanc 2018 – 96
Grapes from SA’s second oldest Chenin Blanc vineyard, the maiden 2013 vintage of this wine immediately captured the imagination. Winemaker Danie Steytler Jnr seems to refine his vision with each subsequent release, the 2018 perhaps the least showy to date.
Reference Articles: Wine Mag, Get It Magazine