The South African wine export business is an industry that has generated much enthusiasm for the international wine community in the last fifteen years. With the demise of Apartheid in the early 90's, which kept the country's exports highly restricted, there has been an explosion of renewed interest and a new wave of very contemporary wineries have sprung up in essentially every wine-growing region in the country. However, with wine-making traditions over 300 years old in some of these areas, many of the top producers are finding promise by straddling both the elegance of an Old World style and the more fruit-driven style of the New World.
The country's most significant wine regions are located in the Western Cape, a location of varied topography and a moderate, Mediterranean climate, close enough to the Indian and Atlantic Oceans to give vineyards the benefit of maritime influences. An area comparable to California's Napa Valley, and considered among the world's most highly regarded wine producing areas, the Western Cape may be broken down into over a dozen specific wine regions. We're happy to bring to you three excellent wines from three very promising regions from the Western Cape: Sequillo 2005 Red Blend from Swartland, Jardin 2005 Syrah from Jordan Winery in Stellenbosch, and Paul Cluver 2008 Chardonnay from Englin Valley.
Sequillo Winery was formed in 2001 by two families with a deep history in wine-making circles: the Sadie Family and the Cornet Spies Family Trust. Winemaker Eben Sadie elects to use an organic approach for the vineyard and as such, the unfiltered and non-refined wines are as natural tasting as possible. He utilizes wood barrels only to the most minimal degree, and his methods involve using cement vats to make the wines, and then ages in a variety of ancient oak barrels. The Sequillo 2005 Red Blend was awarded 89 Points by Wine Enthusiast, who cited, "The nose offers raspberry, red berry and spice, and on the palate, integrated flavors of red cherry and dark fruit, spice and minerality... Good acidity and balance, and a fresh overall character add to the interest." It will pair well with barbecued chicken and South African Sosaties.
Jordan Winery, of the notable Stellenbosch region, is unique to South Africa for two reasons. A true "Mom & Pop", it is the only winery in the country that is owned and operated by a husband and wife team. And secondly, the vineyard has the rare luxury of facing all directions-North, South, East and West-giving a balance that most vineyards do not have access to. Gary and Kathy Jordan developed their knowledge on wine-making while attending UC Davis in California, and returned to their South Africa home to become prominent wine-makers. Gary has received numerous awards producing under the Jordan Winery label and is steadily continuing to make his mark on the international wine scene. Wine Spectator awarded an outstanding 91 points to the Jardin 2005 Syrah, noting, "Dark and plenty fleshy, with fig, hoisin sauce, warm currant confiture and bittersweet ganache flavors that glide along fine-grained, coffee tinged tannins." Pairs well with beef curry, lamb, or try with Braised Chicken with Peppadew Peppers.
Paul Cluvery Winery, of Elgin Valley, not only generates high quality wines, but grower Dr. Paul Cluver has been acknowledged amongst South Africa's most respected vintners, and has become the regions most important figures in the industry. A progressive institution, the estate is partner in the first wine and biodiversity route in the area, is an active member and contributor to Thandi black economic empowerment wine producing project, promoter of eco-tourism, and is highly involved with project Slowine, an entity that empowers those "moments in between" and encourages connections amongst humans and quality over quantity, combining modernism with the best traditions from the past. A true family run business, Paul Cluver's wines have landed both international and national acclaim and his 2008 Chardonnay was awarded 5 stars by Platter's South African Wine Guide 2010. This classic Chardonnay erupts with aromas of citrus and floral tones with hints of pineapple, peaches, oak and toasty nuttiness. It is gentle yet complex with a long and elegant finish. Pairs well with creamy pastas, pork, salmon, or try White Fish with Fennel.