A year ago I started this blog with the sole goal in mind to bring you all a HUGE variety of wines at great prices. With that in mind I am really setting out to try new wines, from new places, and perhaps even new varietals. I grew up on New World wines, therefore, my palette has really stuck to preferring those varietals and flavors. I’ve dabbled here and there with wines from France, Italy, and South America as they are often sent to me and are readily available in my grocery store. But what about South African wines? Some of you may be surprised to hear that South Africa has a wine economy that is currently booming!
A Little History…
From 1948-1991 South Africa was subjected to Apartheid (the book nerd in me would love to expand on that but I know you all aren’t here for a history lesson haha). But ever since this terrible time has ended numerous industries in South Africa have begun to rise again, specifically the wine industry. New winemakers and old alike began creating fantastic wines once again and are slowly being introduced to America. But why don’t we see it much yet? I’ve read that its because there are some preconceived notions on South African wines and not many are giving it the chance it needs and deserves.
So, enters me! Hearing this story about South African wine intrigued immensely. I have set out with a goal of trying as many South African wines as I can get my hands on starting with a few from New Dawn. Like I mentioned before, South African wines are not in my grocery stores (or rarely are) so I headed to the internet to make my discoveries. From New Dawn I started with two varietals that are commonly produced world wide: a Cabernet Franc and Grenach Rose. I wanted to try some varietals that I am accustomed to and could compare them to the wines produced here. That way you all would have a comparison to go off of. Next, I got a Pinotage and Chenin Blanc. Two varietals that South Africa is known for.
Let’s Get To The Wine…
Cab Franc and Rose
Lets start with what I know. I LOVE Cabernet Franc and Rose so if I am perfectly honest I wasn’t too sure how I would feel about these varietals coming out of a new place. I expected them to be good but I did not think they would hold a candle to the state side wines that I know and love. I couldn’t have been more wrong!
My husband and I both said that had you given us the Cab Franc or Rose in a blind tasting we would’ve likely chosen the South African wines. Why? Simply put…they had exaggerated flavors. Imagine your favorite Cab Franc or Rose intensified. It was that much easier to pick up the flavors, they lasted on the tongue a bit longer, and dare I say smoother to drink?! My hubs is not a Rose fan. From anywhere. Until now. He claimed to like the South African Grenache Rose because it was more “robust”. It had an abundance of each of its flavors…that’s his kind of wine.
Pinotage and Chenin Blanc
Ok, next, the two that I don’t know as well. Chenin Blanc is readily available here in the states but it isn’t exactly what we are known for. However, a Pinotage is a bit more rare. I started with the Chenic Blanc because it was called “The Vanilla”. I am a sucker for anything vanilla so I had a strong feeling I was going to love this one! I was not wrong. The richness in this wine is unlike any Chenin Blanc I have ever had. When a white wine is so fruit forward I hardly find it “rich” but that’s exactly what this wine was. So much pear, honey, and citrus, taper off into a mouth full of rich butter. I HAVE TO GET THIS ONE AGAIN. End of story.
I have had Pinotage numerous times but don’t particularly remember liking or disliking them so I was expecting a sort of “eh” feeling when trying this one. Much to my surprise it was far more robust than I expected. I am not sure why but I was thinking “watered down red” prior to trying it but I was very wrong. I could easily compare this Pinotage to any wine coming out of California where they are known for big, bold reds.
Cheers to South African Wines!
In summary, try any South African Wines you come across! I promise you will be very pleasantly surprised. Plus, did I mention that the prices are phenomenal? I loved all four bottles that I got from New Dawn so much that I can’t stop now. I plan to taste my way through their entire inventory (shipping is free!).