The Scotsman's wine columnist Rose Murray Brown picks out ten of her favourite South African wines for under £25

I visited South Africa last year and was really impressed with the progress being made with certain grapes. I particularly liked the chenin blancs and the white Mediterranean blends using Rhone grapes like viognier and clairette blanc.

With the reds, I found some new cabernet blends from Stellenbosch, new estate pinot noirs coming on stream from Hemel en Aarde, Franschhoek and Elgin – and the syrahs from Swartland and Stellenbosch are improving too.
These are my current favourite South African whites and reds priced under £25.

WHITE

Western Cape: THE RUSTLER CHENIN BLANC 2014 (£8.99, Laithwaites, laithwaites.co.uk)
Alcohol 13.5 per cent
Named after Angus McLean, the legendary sheep rustler and made by Bruce Jack, this has rich melon aromas, citric fruit flavours with underlying honeycomb notes and tasters loved the creamy palate and a very decent long finish for the price.
STAR VALUE BUY

Paarl: GLEN CARLOU ‘QUARTZ STONE’ CHARDONNAY 2013

(£18.49-£19.99, Valvona & Crolla; The Beerhive; Henderson Wines; The Fine Wine Company, Edinburgh; Exel Wines, Perth; www.sawinesonline.co.uk)
Alcohol 13 per cent
I used to find Glen Carlu wines a little too ripe and clumsy, but this single vineyard chardonnay is a gem. Twenty-three year old vines are grown on quartz stone shards in the foothills of the Simonsberg mountains, with the grapes prepared partly in French oak barrels and a proportion in cement egg-shaped tanks. The result is luscious with a tangerine citrus fruit flavour, nutty undertones, intense oak notes and long length.

Picture: Glen Carlou

Picture: Glen Carlou

Elgin: PAUL CLUVER SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013 (£12, Marks & Spencer)
Alcohol 13.5 per cent
Elgin is one of the best regions for sauvignon blanc today in the Cape. This former apple growing region has a vintage several weeks later than Constantia, the original white wine region. One of my favourite producers in Elgin is Paul Cluver with winemaker Andries Burger making really classy, elegant sauvignon with delicious passionfruit and elderflower notes.

Stellenbosch: DE MORGENZON RESERVE CHENIN BLANC 2014

(£17.49, www.sawinesonline.co.uk)
Alcohol 14 per cent
This top Cape estate makes excellent chenin blanc (and their syrah 2012 is also superb). Vines are grown on the high Ribbokkop slopes and winemaker Carl van der Merwe has a great talent with this grape – this is his oaked reserve example which is superbly opulent with pear, spice and caramel flavours. Oak fermented with 25 per cent new barrels and 11 months on its lees gives it a rich complexity.

Picture: De Morgenzon

Picture: De Morgenzon

Western Cape: SASKIA 2012 Miles Mossop

(£18-£20, Oddbins; www.swig.co.uk; www.sawinesonline.co.uk; De Burgh Wines, Dalkeith, 01875 595100, www.de-burgh.com)
Alcohol 13 per cent
I am a huge fan of Miles Mossop’s wines. This beauty is named after his daughter Saskia-Jo made from four ‘Mediterranean’ grapes: 66 per cent chenin blanc, 26 per cent viognier, 5 per cent verdelho and 3 per cent clairette grown in Stellenbosch and Paarl. Grapes are whole bunch pressed and fermented in 400 litre barrels with 10 months in barrel on lees. The result is a divinely rich honeysuckle, peach-scented white blend with grilled pineapple notes.

RED:

Stellenbosch: JOURNEY’S END KENDAL LODGE MERLOT CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012

(£8 reduced from £10, until 7 September, Marks & Spencer)
Alcohol 13.5 per cent
The Gabb family who own Journey’s End, made their money with the Kumala brand – and now make a consistently good range from their Stellenbosch winery run by son Rollo. This is made in a very ripe New World style with voluptuous plummy fruits, well-structured palate and good length.

Picture: Kendal Lodge

Picture: Kendal Lodge

Hemel en Aarde: NEWTON JOHNSON FAMILY VINEYARDS PINOT NOIR 2013

(£21.99, www.sawinesonline.co.uk for 2014 vintage; £25, www.thesecretcellar.co.uk)
Alcohol 14 per cent
A five star Platter wine – a lovely pinot noir brimming with red fruits and beautifully balanced. It’s proof that this corner of the Cape near Hermanus is the hot spot for pinot, although other higher altitude areas like Elgin and Franschhoek are making interesting efforts. This hails from a small 18 hectare family wine estate in Walker Bay. STAR BUY

Robertson: SPRINGFIELD ESTATE ‘WORK OF TIME’ 2008 (£17.99, www.sawinesonline.co.uk)
Alcohol 13 per cent
This delicious mature four grape blend (30 per cent merlot, 31 per cent cabernet franc, 25 per cent cabernet sauvignon and 14 per cent petit verdot) shows similarities to a mature St Emilion from Bordeaux in its cedary aromas, smoky liquorice palate, juicy red fruits and smooth silky tannins. Springfield estate, run by the charming Bruwer family, make a fantastically consistent range of whites and reds in Robertson, east of Cape Town.

Stellenbosch: GLENELLY LADY MAY 2010

(£26.99, www.sawinesonline.co.uk; £23, Marks & Spencer)
Alcohol 14.5 per cent
A newcomer on the South African scene in the traditional estates of Stellenbosch, May-Eliane de Lencquesaing sold her Bordeaux estate, and moved to South Africa in 2003. With 30 years’ experience of making top class claret in France, she is now making very interesting Bordeaux style reds in the Cape. Most impressive of her range is her flagship red, a very elegant cabernet sauvignon with 24 months in new French oak.

Picture: Glenelly

Picture: Glenelly

Franschhoek: CAPE CHAMONIX PINOT NOIR RESERVE 2012

(£19.99-£24, Raeburn Wines, Edinburgh; WoodWinters, Edinburgh/ Bridge of Allan; Luvians, Cupar/St Andrews; Berry Bros & Rudd; www.stonevine.co.uk)
Alcohol 13 per cent
Winemaker Gottfried Mocke uses high grown Franschhoek fruit, planted on cool south west facing slopes at 500-600 metres – and matures it for 16 months in 50 per cent new oak. This is a charming pinot noir, one of the best in the Cape, with a very forward fruit style, cherry fruits, a hint of pepper and a soft, elegant finish.

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About The Author

Rose Murray Brown

Rose Murray Brown is one of only 323 Masters of Wine worldwide and is the only one to host wine courses and regular wine tastings in Scotland.

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