Top 20 Best Buys of 2018
By Christian Eedes, 5 December 2018
In the introduction to the 2019 edition of Platter’s entitled “Some trends in South African wine”, the following observation is made: “The ‘ultra-premium’ category is identified by the leading industry analyst Nielsen is of red wines selling for R125 or more, and whites over R96. It represents less than 2% of the local wine market; well over 50% of bottled wine sells to wine-drinkers for under R40 per bottle.”
At the release of the Cape White Blend Report yesterday, there was much debate about who actually drinks these wines as they are both esoteric in terms of style and expensive – the average price of the 17 wines to rate 90 points or higher on the 100-point scale was R178 a bottle.
South Africa is not a rich country. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita in South Africa is USD 10 872 (or approximately R150 000) a year, lower than the average of USD 30 563 (or R422 000) approximately a year.
Luckily, the market is not monolithic and while there are inevitably plenty of people who won’t ever drink anything more flashy than Du Toitskloof Chenin Blanc, available from warehouse chain Makro for R39 a bottle, there are those with both the necessary wherewithal and level of involvement in the subject of wine to seek out the Van Wyk Olivia Grace 2017, a blend of 56% Chenin blanc, 23% Riesling, 19% Chardonnay and 2% Viognier, which rated 94 points in the Report and is priced at R220 a bottle.
That said, scrutinise Winemag.co.za’s regular reports and there are bargains to be had. In the Cape White Blend Report currently under discussion, Malanot The Flower Pot White Blend 2014, which rated 91 points, sells for R90 while The Tin Mine 2017 from Zevenwacht in Stellenbosch, which rated 90 points, goes for the same price.
The Flower Pot White Blend 2014 from winemaker Marius Malan consists of 36% Chenin Blanc, 36% Grenache Blanc, 14% Roussanne, 10% Verdelho, 2.5% Semillon and 1.5% Viognier. It’s got stone fruit, wet wool and hay on the nose while the palate is rich and broad with layers of flavour and a super-dry finish.
The Tin Mine 2017 comprises 66% Chenin Blanc, 25% Chardonnay, 5% Viognier and 4% Roussanne. Aromatically, the wine shows citrus and stone fruit plus some leesy complexity while the palate is again dense and full, tangy acidity lending balance.
Other wines to have caught the eye as offering particularly good quality relative to price over the year are the following:
Fairview Extraño 2015 (Signature Red Blend) – R100
Ken Forrester Woolworths Reserve Collection Viognier 2016 – R69.99
Org de Rac Roussanne 2017 – R72
Glenelly Glass Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 – R105
Muratie Melck’s Shiraz Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 – R100
Badsberg Sur Lie Chardonnay 2017 – R78
Bergsig Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2016 – R89
Boland Cellar One Formation Pinotage Shiraz Grenache 2016 – R83
Doran Vineyards Arya 2018 (Cape White Blend) – R65
Durbanville Hills Chardonnay 2017 – R65
KWV Cathedral Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 – R120
Rousseau Babette 2015 (Cape Bordeaux Red Blend) – R120
Rousseau Grace Sauvignon Blanc 2018 – R95
Usana Pinot Gris 2016 – R85
Villiera Down to Earth Touriga Nacional Shiraz 2016 – R56
Vrede en Lust Artisan Range Semillon 2016 – R99
Vrede en Lust Early Mist Riesling 2017 – R79
Waverley Hills Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2018 – R76
(All prices are ex-cellar and as supplied by the producer at the time of tasting.)