Tim Atkin Selects South Africa’s Finest

Tim Atkin’s 2016 South Africa Special Report has highlighted the country’s finest wines, including a broad selection from our suppliers. In his fourth annual guide to South Africa, Atkin says the 2015 vintage is: “the best I’ve tasted in 26 years of writing about the country’s wines” and should be a springboard to global recognition.

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95 points Lismore Viognier 2014 Wines of the Year – Other Whites

Greyton (14%)

With just 0.8 hectares in the ground, my only criticism of Sam O’Keefe’s world class Viognier is that there isn’t more of it. Located on a protected, south-facing slope, which contributes to the wine’s freshness and vivacity, it’s a voluptuous, peach and nectarine fruity wine with subtle oak and balancing acidity. The closest the Cape comes to Condrieu. Drink: 2016-19

 

95 points Lismore Syrah 2015 Wines of the Year – Syrah

Greyton (14.5%)

If the 2014 Lismore Syrah was noteworthy – the 2012 and 2013 were not released – then this is even better. Deeply coloured and highly perfumed, with stony, granitic, liquorice, black pepper and tapenade notes, complemented by fynbos aromas, granular tannins, subtle oak and pithy acidity. Exceptional winemaking. Drink: 2017-25

 

93 points Lismore Barrel-Fermented Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Greyton (13.5%)

The Sauvignon Blanc at Lismore is planted on the crest of the hill on an unirrigated block. Made in an oxidative style like a Chardonnay, it’s fermented in older wood and sees 11 months of lees contact. The result is creamy, savoury and slightly smoky, with notes of gunflint and grapefruit and impressive palate length. Drink: 2016-19

 

93 points Lismore Chardonnay 2014

Greyton (13.5%)

It’s tempting to see something of a California style in this wine because of the origins of its winemaker, Sam O’Keefe. It’s a rich, honeyed, peachy style with impressive concentration, savoury oak and enough acidity to keep the wine fresh and focused on the palate. Drink: 2016-19

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95 points Olifantsberg Blanc 2015 Wines of the Year – Other Whites Bordeaux White Blends

Breedekloof (13.5%)

Elizma Visser’s brilliant white blend was an exciting find for me this year. Sourced from young vines, this cuvée of mostly Roussanne with Grenache Blanc and Chardonnay reminded me of the thrill of tasting Chris Alheit’s wines for the first time. Savoury, spicy and balanced, with leesy, natural yeast notes and a tapering finish. Drink: 2016-20 (FUTURE VINTAGE NOT IN UK STOCK YET)

 

92 points Olifantsberg Silhouette 2013

Breedekloof (13.5%)

Grown on the shale soils of the Breedekloof, this is a stony, spicy blend of Syrah with 10% Carignan, Mourvèdre and Grenache. Perfumed, elegant and spicy with tangy acidity and a fir finish. A brand to keep an eye on. Drink: 2016-21

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95 points Bloemendal Suider Terras Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Wines of the Year Bordeaux White Blends

Durbanville (13.5%)

These contoured, south- and south-west facing vineyards consistently produce one of my favourite Cape Sauvignon Blancs. Expertly wooded, with zesty acidity, a creamy mid-palate and grapefruit and smoked lemon flavours, it’s like a top Pessac-Léognan at a very affordable price. Drink: 2016-20 (FUTURE VINTAGE NOT IN UK STOCK YET)

 

93 points Bloemendal Kanonberg Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2015

Durbanville (13%)

The combination of Lombard Loubser in the vineyards and Francois Haasbroek in the cellar has taken the Bloemendal wines to new heights. This Sauvignon-based white (with 30% Semillon) is herbal, savoury and refreshing, with classic cool climate flavours and a patina of oak. Drink: 2016-19 (FUTURE VINTAGE NOT IN UK STOCK YET)

 

 93 points Bloemendal Semillon 2014

Durbanville (13%)

Another outstanding white wine from a much-improved winery, this cool climate, appealingly herbal Semillon has just the right amount of oak for added complexity. Cream soda, citrus, lemongrass and dill notes are supported by pithy acidity. Lovely. Drink: 2016-20 (FUTURE VINTAGE IN UK STOCK YET)

 

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94 points Groot Constantia Grand Constance 2013

Constantia (12.5%)

If it weren’t for Vin de Constance, grown nearby at Klein Constantia, this varietal Muscat de Frontignan would be the most celebrated sweet wine in the region. Fermented on skins (hence its deep colour), it’s a complex, dried fruit, orange peel and pastry-like white with rich concentration and 181 grams of residual sugar. Drink: 2016-24

 

90 points Groot Constantia Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Constantia (14%)

Made in what Boela Gerber calls a “cracker vintage”, this is the ripest Sauvignon yet from Groot Constantia. It’s still pretty zesty, aromatic stuff, with 14% Semillon adding some cream soda notes. Herbal and racy, with green olive and lemongrass flavours. Drink: 2016-17

 

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