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South Africa’s 10 most underrated wine producers

January 14, 2016
by Christian
in Opinion & Analysis
with 9 Comments

Why do some wineries attract all the hype and others go largely overlooked despite turning out of cracking wine? Here’s a list of 10 producers bubbling under, either established properties enjoying a resurgence after being off form or new operations set for the big time.

Arendsig
Lourens van der Westhuizen is working hard to demonstrate that Robertson is capable of more than cheap ‘n cheerful. Look out for his Inspirational Batch wines in particular.

B Vintners
Bruwer Raats of Raats Family wines and cousin Gavin Bruwer Slabbert are intent on showing that Stellenbosch is capable of new wave wines just as exciting as those from the Swartland or anywhere else.

Eikendal
Eikendal drifted after the retirement of Josef Krammer in the early 2000s but is now back on track under the dedicated and thoughtful Nico Grobler, a wonderfully light and airy Chardonnay probably being his major achievement to date.

Joostenberg
Joostenberg has long been a source of rock-solid wines but winemaker Tyrell Myburgh has started to stretch his wings with the Small Batch Collection label.

L’Avenir
A series of ownership changes meant that L’Avenir suffered from a lack of vision but all seems to be back on track – expect to hear much more about both the Single Block Chenin Blanc and Pinotage.

Leeuwenkuil
While Willie Dreyer has long been a grape grower in the Swartland and Voor Paardeberg, the Leeuwenkuil own label is a fairly recent development. Wines under the premium Heritage label are already racking in the awards but also look out for the standard range which offers outstanding quality relative to price.

Nitida Coronata Integration 2014

Super-duper.

Nitida
Nitida markets itself with little fanfare but the wines offer unusually good drinkability. Coronata Integration is one of the best Bordeaux-style whites around while its red counterpart called Calligraphy is nicely understated.

Overgaauw
There needed to be some settling down when David van Velden took over from his father Braam but this is again a property to bank on – the Bordeaux-style Tria Corda 2012 is particularly smart as is the Touriga Nacional 2014.

Spioenkop
Based in Elgin, Koen Roose goes about his business in uncompromising fashion. All his wines show a particular elegance but it is his various takes on Pinotage that have most caught the eye to date.

Trizanne Signature Wines
Trizanne Barnard, when not consulting to the supermarkets of Europe, makes some wonderfully understated, self-assured wines. Is there a better red at R100 a bottle than her Syrah-Grenache?

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9 Comments

  1. Ivan VinoMay 19, 2016 at 3:32 pmReply

    I import SA wines to Peru. We are slowly gaining ground. We have an easily recognizable, pronunciable winery name and would like to expand to other wineries. But knowing the market here, names like Spioenkop, Joostenberg, Overgauu and the sort will make the sale a lot more difficult. Not because of the sommelier, waiter or business owner, who can tell a good wine, but the final consumer. South Africa as a wine origin is already a hard sale in South America. Have the wineries` export marketing managers considered developing brands for their overseas market products? Cheers

  2. Brian JonesJanuary 26, 2016 at 12:42 pmReply

    What about Raka? High quality to match the big names but at around a 3rd of the price…

  3. GilesJanuary 17, 2016 at 12:38 amReply

    Like the list and the suggested additions… Vondeling?

  4. BernardJanuary 15, 2016 at 2:06 pmReply

    Comparing the CE and TA ratings
    You essentially gave the Chardonnay 2 more points and the Haarlem 2 Hope 3 more points. Which translates perfectly to 4 and 4.5 star Platter rating

    • ChristianJanuary 15, 2016 at 2:24 pmReplyAuthor

      Hi Bernard, Scores (necessary evil that they are) count for a lot but another factor I considered when drawing up the list was what you might call “airtime” or media attention – I think all 10 on the list deserve more coverage than they are currently receiving, regardless of whether they’re new or old.

  5. BernardJanuary 15, 2016 at 1:58 pmReply

    Hi Christiaan

    I’m not too sure why you have chosen B Vintners for this list. It is an entirely new label and have received fairly good Platter and TA ratings thus far.
    Are you saying that the plaudits should have equaled for instance the abrupt rise of lets say Alheit or Porseleinberg?

  6. HenryJanuary 15, 2016 at 8:44 amReply

    The notion that Robertson only produces cheap and cheerful has already been put to bed by a variety of producers for example Springfield, De Wetshof, Bon Courage….

    • Neal JohnsonJanuary 26, 2016 at 2:20 pmReply

      The Number One Constitution Road Shiraz from Robertson is one of the best in the category

  7. Kyle MartinJanuary 14, 2016 at 1:13 pmReply

    Great selection Christian,

    I’d also spare a nod for:

    Longridge
    Painted Wolf
    Lynx
    Annexkloof
    Ormond Private Cellar

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