Although my palate skews so Old World it could probably qualify for membership in the European Union, I've always had a thing for South Africa. Partly it's because I'm eager for the country to move beyond its tortured history: A flourishing wine industry would become a potent symbol of the new, post-apartheid era. But more than that, it's because of what I've tasted in the winesan undercurrent of minerality, a dash of characterthat makes them more than just standard-issue, sun-splashed New World bottles. Abutted by two oceans, with a felicitous Mediterranean-style climate and a rich array of soils and microclimates, South Africa has enormous winemaking potential.
Yet, despite all this, I have never been profoundly impressed by a South African wine. I've never had that one eureka moment I was looking for, and I'd started to wonder what it would take to make that happen. I think I now have an answer, in the form of some dynamic young winemakers who look poised to deliver on South Africa's promise.
- South Africa’s Beautiful Wine Country
- South Africa Wines: Why to Buy
- South Africa Dream Trips
- Wine-Centric South Africa Travel Tips
- A Food Safari in South Africa
- South Africa's Value Wines
- South African Wineries Doing Good
- Wineries by the Sea: South Africa
Not that South Africa hasn't already turned out its share of commendable wines. Its winemaking tradition dates back to the 1600sat one time, a South African dessert wine called Constantia (now Vin de Constance) was among the world's most prized. (Napoleon had cases of it shipped to the island of St. Helena while he was in exile there.) More recently, Hamilton Russell Vineyards, a winery in Walker Bay, on the Atlantic Ocean, has produced impressive Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. In the Stellenbosch region, South Africa's answer to Napa Valley (complete with swank hotels, fancy boutiques and hordes of free-spending, perpetually buzzed tourists), De Toren makes first-rate Bordeaux blends, and Rudi Schultz creates fine Rhône-style Syrahs. Raats Family Wines, another Stellenbosch estate, offers something exceedingly hard to find in the New World: a good Cabernet Franc.