Discovery of a Region: A Snapshot of South African Wines

I was invited to explore a region lately that was unfamiliar to me – South Africa.  The distribution of these wines haven’t been strong in Dallas, so it requires some detective work to try a variety of wines from the region.  According to the Wines of South Africa site, the region has grown by 219 percent between 1998 and 2010.

The South African wine industry is backed by the Institute for Viticulture and Oenology, a state region which includes the departments of viniculture at the University of Stellenbosch and the Elsenburg Agricultural College.

The people of Graham Beck delivered  six sample bottles containing of a mix of sparkling wines, chenin blanc, pinotage and cabernet sauvignon.  Every wine was value priced and I was enthusiastic about every one that I tried.  While Graham Beck produces premium wines, the winery is also dedicated to education and empowerment of farm workers.

Discovery of a Region

The first three were sparkling wines, one vintage and two non-vintage bottles all produced in the Methode Cap Classique.  The line-up was as follows:

  • Graham Beck Brut Rose, NV – notes of berry and floral, this was a delightful first taste into South African sparkling wines.
  • Graham Beck Brut NV – notes of pear, apple and baked bread with a nice minerality.
  • Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2008 – a premiere cuvee with notes of lime and of apricot.

Discovery of a Region

We tried three still wines including:

  • Graham Beck Game Reserve Chenin Blanc 2012 – a refreshing white with notes of melon, pineapple and other tropical fruits.  I really like this style of white wine.
  • Graham Beck Game Reserve Pinotage 2010 – this is a style of wine that South African is well known for and this doesn’t disappoint.  Big notes of cigar, berry and plum.
  • Graham Beck Game Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 – notes of blackberry, cherry, chocolate and mocha.  I think this wine would benefit with a little more age in the bottle.

I really enjoyed getting a snapshot into South African wines and plan to do some exploring to find out more about the region.  Definitely worth the passport stamp.