This is an archive of tasting notes from participants in the UK wine forum, with notes from before 2005








UK Wine Forum - South Africa
Notes from participants in the UK Forum are added in chronological order. Please note that fortified wines are not listed here, but under fortified wines

reds - whites and sparkling

South Africa red

03/04 L'Avenir Pinotage 2002
Oh well, here goes. Last time Fincham posted a pinotage all hell broke loose. But not this time methinks! Strikingly bright colour - crazy purpley, almost pink around the edges. Wierd. Wonderful smell of roses and that stuff we had to rub on our legs at school before rugby, what's it called? Germalene? Smooth and sweet with a tad of tannic bite and a taste of dark chocolate. Finchamesque 14.5% alcohol (I rarely look at anything less these days ;-) Really not bad at all. I'd probably buy it again. £10.50 Wine Society. (Daron Fincham, UK)

03/04 Glen Carlou Pinot Noir 2002
A pinot from the boiled beetroot brigade of clones. Pretty simple. Massively sweet (helped by the whopping 14.5% alcohol by volume). Its OK but I don't think I'd buy it again. £8.50 Wine Society. (Daron Fincham, UK

11/03 Shiraz, "The Ridge", Graham Beck 2000
Dark red. Bit of paint stripper on the nose, but rather refined and blackcurranty, leading some to believe it was Cabernet Sauvignon. I stuck to my impression from the palate which had huge, ripe, sweet tannins and black-peppery jammy, spicy fruit with great grip which just shouted Shiraz. Excellent. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

10/03 Raoul's Rustic Red 2001
I think it said tinta barri(a?)cca on the label, though it was the 14.8% alcohol by volume that got me to buy it. So kiss your ring, extend your arms and wheel away from the goal to celebrate this gutsy, plummy wine. £6.49 Oddbins. (Daron Fincham, UK)

10/03 Meerlust Rubicon 98
This is my first encounter with this south African estate, it was given to me as leaving present. I've had a few good S-A cab;cab blends other the years such as thelema,Overgaauw,Villiera cru Monro,Delheim and some of the warwick wines. I think this was as traditional as you can get from the new world, Very oaky,tary.It was quite difficult at first to get any fruit flavours but after an hour and a bit of food it really opened up as a big ,spicy full flavoured wine .what made it stand out was that it had a very subtle balance between fruit ,acidity, alcohol and tannins. I thought it a was a very classy wine not trying to be anything else .Is there such a thing as stellenbosch terroir. (Bernard Caille, UK)

09/03 Fairview Solitude Shiraz 2000
Dark red. Burnt rubber nose, almost northern Rhône style (I couldn't tell the difference). Lovely, lush fruit, leather. Good texture and acidity in the mouth with a nice finish. Very good. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

09/03 Labourie Cabernet Sauvignon 1996, Paarl
Much more mature appearance, though very dark. Very attractive nose in a popular style - ripe rich fruit with lots of oakiness. Big fruit attack. This is never claret. I'd say it was a full, ripe, easy drinking Bordeaux blend from the new world - probably not South Africa, but probably South America. (Well, I was right that it wasn't claret ...) (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

08/03 1998 Hidden Valley Pinotage, RSA 13.5%
Wild smoky brambly nose of medium - high intensity. Stewed fruit. Tight and tannic on palate after an initial jammy attack, almost astringent in many ways. Medium to high acidity. Good. (Ray Abercromby, UK)

07/03 Sainsbury's Reserve Selection Pinotage 2001
Quite a floral nose. Fair soft fruit, but the pinotage bitter harshness savages the tongue, particularly after the bottle has been open for an hour or so. I did a quick hands up on who liked brussels sprouts and who didn't like this wine. On this extremely unscientific test, there did seem to be a correlation. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

05/03 Uiterwyk Pinotage 1996
Refined rusticity, subtle VA. Age has mellowed this nicely, but there's still a pretty intense flavoursome core to the wine. Coped with pasta carbonara, but this really wanted a hearty stew with it. Good. (Paul Armstrong, UK)

05/03 Diemersfontein Carpe Diem Pinotage 2001
15% alcohol...Inky purple, thick, with big tears. Endlessly evolving nose over the evening: tar, rubber, cough pastilles, blackcurrants, prunes, bitter chocolate, ash (phew, never come up with so many nose descriptors before, but I really found all of these!) Big, deep, soft black fruit and plum flavours, slight spirity edge (hardly surprising given the alcohol). There is quite a strong acid spine hiding under the covers of the almost overpowering flavours. VG, and maybe more if it evolves gracefully like the Uiterwyk above. (Paul Armstrong, UK)

04/03 Kanonkop Paul Sauer 1998
Rich, dark red, and equally rich, roasted nose, expensive oak. Very ripe, rustic, quite aggressive palate, thick fruit and lots of impact, slightly coarse acidity into the finish. 'Elegant' it ain't but a very impressive wine to taste - if not to drink v. much if. Very good. Mostly Cabernet, apparently. (Stephan Muller, UK)

03/03 1998 Warwick estate Old bush Vine Pinotage
Started off absolutely freezing, but opened up with temperature to give a real spicy fruit compote nose, with brambly fruit and metallic finish. Very enjoyable, with real character. Good. (Ray Abercromby, UK)

02/03 KWV "Cathedral Cellar" Merlot 1998
Appearance dark and brooding - like Miles Davis - (turn to face camera right): Interesting. Nose deep and mellow, some oldish oak and a damson scent, which after 40 minutes in the glass changed to stewed plums Nice! Palate is smooth and sweet with fine tannin. Fabulous!! Finish lasted 29.2 seconds. But with an artist like this whose counting? Alcohol 13.5% Sweet. The price? £7.99 from Morrisons. Crazy! (Daron Fincham, UK)

01/03 Kaapzicht Pinotage 2000
From Stellenbosch, a chocolatey, sweet and fruity wine with the faintest whiff of rosewater. No bananas or rubber. I still don't "get" pinotage though. 14% abv. £9.95 Tanners. (Daron Fincham, UK)

01/03 Backsberg Cabernet Sauvignon 1995
Strong red/purple colour with mahogany hints. Not much nose, but nice mellow/velvetty cherry/plum fruit, touch earth and volatility but still an urbane mouthful. G (Paul Armstrong, UK)

12/02 1991 1999 Stonebuck Merlot/Pinotage
Not a producer I was familiar with but this wine was pleasant and supposedly a relatively inexpensive bottle. Slight acetone on the nose that did not translate (thankfully) to the palate. The Merlot helped to soften the Pinotage and added extra complexity to the fragrant aromas. Nice tar, blackberry and smoked plum flavors with a medium length finish. At under $15 this would be worthy, but I am clueless about the price. (Roy Hersh, USA)

11/02 1999 CWG Auction Reserve Shiraz, Vergelegen SA
Best South African red I've had. The sexy supple wine of 8 months ago has gone and this is showing now as a very good, lean(ish) shiraz. Not in the jammy style, the wine has a grainy texture and needs a bit more time to come together. Still its drinking well now and there is a real long spicy finish to the wine. In quality terms this is a bit above a good bin 389, so its fair value for the money. (Cameron Clark, Holland)

10/02 Graham Beck Sparkling Pinotage n/v
Although Beck is one of the top producers of Sparkling Wine in all of South Africa, this "experiment" with Pinotage, clearly failed at least for my palate. Too cloying without vinifying dry enough and without any semblance of Pinotage character. I found the dark red color intriguing and neither the nose nor flavor profile delivered any pleasure to speak of. Avoid. (Roy Hersh, USA)

10/02 1998 Graham Beck "Cornerstone" Cabernet
Varietal correctness does not necessarily mean it is a good wine. This delivers little more than that for now as it is showing its reticent youthfulness. Medium bodied with strawberry fruit and some tar with medium to ripe tannins. Very good finish and will be a good wine in a few years. (Roy Hersh, USA)

10/02 2000 Beyerskloof Cab/Merlot
I do not believe this is available in the US at this time. 22 months in new french oak in an 80%/20% blend that will sell for $30 approximately. Nice spice and distincitive deeply extracted, dark berry lush fruit, showing more maturity than I would have thought and this probably has to do with the vine age. Incredibly soft texture and light tannins with a very long finish though, very approachable now and this would be an outstanding addition to any restaurant's by the glass program. Wow! (Roy Hersh, USA)

10/02 2000 Graham Beck "Old Road" Pinotage
The nose is dominated by menthol and sweet eucalyptus and then red berry fruit. I like a smokier style. This had mostly medicinal and unpleasant flavors and drying tannins. Hard to enjoy and I gave it plenty of time in the glass. (Roy Hersh, USA)

10/02 2001 Graham Beck "Railroad Red"
This modest blend of Pinotage, Shiraz and Cab is far more pleasing than the effort above. Spicy, smoky, earthy and pine essence here was delightful to keep my nose in the glass. Good fruit but texturally misses the mark...and I LIKE rustic. Short finish and moderate grip to the tannins, this wine is in need of a few years in the cellar to soften up, and is worthy of a purchase depending on price. (Roy Hersh, USA)

10/02 2001 Graham Beck Shiraz
Why all the Graham Beck from South Africa? I hadn't tasted through their entire lineup except for a few white and a few other reds in the past. This Shiraz shows spicy and peppery notes with blackberry and smoky flavors that are enjoyable but not out of the ordinary. Some rough edges detract from the overall drinkability of this wine. (Roy Hersh, USA)

10/02 Luddite 2000 Shiraz, Western Cape, South Africa – 14% - £12 (US$18)
Only 500 cases of this wine made. A very deep red, the nose was classic New World Syrah, showing vanilla, leather, tar and tobacco. It tasted surprisingly soft, with tannins evident and a round if rustic finish. Not bad. My score 5 (4.7). (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Simonsig 2000 Pinotage Estate Wine – 13.5% - £9 – (US$14)
A bright plum red with an alive nose of red fruits like raspberries and plums. It tastes medium bodied taste of red fruit with a core of tart acidity running all the way through the finish. 80/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Simonsig 1998 Tiara Estate Wine – 13.5% - £14 (US$21)
The flagship red wine of the estate, this blend takes its inspiration from Bordeaux, being predominately Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. A ruby red colour, the nose had a soft oak presence with mature Cabernet Sauvignon smell. The taste was of violets and vanilla, soft blackcurrants, and very enjoyable. I could drink this again! Aged in 100% French oak, drink now to 2008. 87/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Simonsig 1998 Frans Malan Reserve 13.5%
Named after Johan's father who started bottling wines in 1968. It is a blend of Pinotage and Merlot, aged 50% in French oak and 50% American oak. The deep plum red gave me a cooked plum & prune nose. It tasted soft, some richness, fleshy, very little tannin and enjoyable. 88/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Simonsig 1991 Tiara 12.5% - £12 (US$18)
As in the 1998 above, this Bordeaux blend was a dark brick red with thick 'legs' down the side of the glass. A well developed nose of violets had integrated well with the oak ageing. A nice core of blackcurrant fruit with the oak backup, this wine is, I believe, at its peak. It has good acidity, but some tasters commented that it had a less than satisfying dry finish. 84/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Simonsig 2000 Shiraz 14% - £9 (US$14)
Typically deep colour for Shiraz, the unmistakeable peppery nose with sweet vanilla was evident. The rich core of black forest fruits was rushed over my tongue by the persistent acidity. Nice to drink and will develop, but needs food. 85/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Simonsig 2001 Auction Reserve Shiraz – Cape Winemakers Guild – approximately £20-£25 (US$35 - $43)
The Cape Winemakers Guild is a body of 35 winemakers who make select barrels of their top wines to be auctioned off. This monster of a wine was purple and opaque, with a powerful Shiraz nose, some plums and definite new oak treatment. The rich, ripe black forest fruits gave way to a chocolate mouthfeel, some liquorice and vanilla. A top New World wine, surprisingly drinkable now but will improve with proper ageing. The second best wine of the tasting and the best S.African wine. 92/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 2001 Bellevue Estate, Tumara Pinotage Stellenbosch
Apparently from 50 year old vines. Medium cherry colour. Nose has sweet plum fruit and a trace of coffee. In the mouth it's warm and sweet with good acidity and a quite long chocolatey finish. For €11 definitely recommended. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

09/02 Backsberg Estate 1981 – 11.5%
Peter had purchased this bottle directly from the winery by chance a few years ago as they were having a clear out. Fill level was lower than expected in the burgundy shaped bottle, but equated to me like a mid shoulder equivalent from Bordeaux. The colour was a light rose, and very pale. You could see right through this wine. The nose to me was faint, but I detected stewed rhubarb, damp leaves and dried rose petals. This twenty-one year old liquid made little impact on the palate as the tannins, acidity and fruit had all but vanished. Over the hill, but still drinkable. Score – 3.5. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Backsberg Estate 1991 – 12%
Plum red to the rim, this example smelt of wet earth and dried rose petals. It tasted slightly sweet, with cooked prunes and acidity in the background. The finish was ok but slightly dry for me. Drink now. Score - 4. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Backsberg Estate 1995 – 12.5%
The colour of this wine was deeper than the preceding wines, a bit like a standard Crozes-Hermitage from a decent producer. The nose was definitely more intense than the previous wines and I smelled ripe prunes. Again, palate followed smell and the raspberry fruit were stronger and longer lasting in the mouth. Drink now and over the next 3 years. Score – 4. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Backsberg Estate 2000 – 13.5%
Watch that alcohol level rising! This syrah looking red had a nose of tobacco, earth and raspberry. It tasted slightly sweet, mellow and had a good finish. Score – 4. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Fairview 2000 – 13.5%
The colour of the wines is getting deeper and deeper, with this a deep plum red. New oak vanilla, blackcurrants, plums and other black forest fruits evident on the nose. It tasted plumy, slightly sweet and good acidity and a drying finish. Incidentally the vines used for this were a mixture of over 25 year old examples and some younger trellised examples. Score – 5. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Spice Route Pinotage 1999 – 13.5%
The deep plum red led me to an intense nose of liquorice, leather and earth. The taste held some red fruits but the tang from the acidity was overbearing for me, like taking a big bite out of a freshly cut grapefruit and holding it in the mouth. Some liked it but I did not. Score – 4. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Fairview The Amos 1998 – 13%
Very deep plum red, nearly opaque. The old bush vines used to make this come across on a mature red fruits nose. The taste is concentrated blackcurrants, silky and slightly dry on the finish. Score – 5. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Fairview Primo 2000
A gold medal winner at the International Wine Challenge last year, and 91 points from the Wine Spectator obviously meant something. The colour was opaque, very deep black plum. The nose was a mix of vanilla (new oak), like opening up a new box of milk chocolates and giving it a good sniff, with a dash of crème caramel as well. It tasted like Aussie shiraz, what I would call 'turbo-charged blackcurrant juice. A core of dark forest fruits with good acidity ran through the wine. Well made, but I do not think I could drink more than 2 glasses of this before my tongue would ask me politely to stop. Score – 5+. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

06/02 Clos Malverne Cabernet Sauvignon-Pinotage Stellenbosch 1999
Dark colour with no rim. Much stinkier than above, with some cow shit notes. Soft and sweet in mouth, good integration of elements, has some charm though finishes bitter. L7. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Klein Constantia Marlbrook Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1997
This will go down a treat with all claret lovers. Tastes like a £19.75 wine. What Broadbent would call very "correct". The French oak is apparent but there is fruit a-plenty and just enough sediment to get Fincham off his face. 13.5% abv. £9.75 Quellyn Roberts of Chester. (Daron Fincham, UK)

04/02 KWV "Cathedral Cellar" Merlot 1997
Colour-wise showing its age a bit, but this has the most mouth-watering finish. I love it! 13.5% abv. £7.99 Morrisons. (Daron Fincham, UK)

03/02 1996 Rust en Vrede, Estate Wine
Deep garnet colour, only fading little at the rim. Nose is an impressive mixture of black fruits, mint, tobacco and hints of sweet oak. Good acidity and still a little tannin. There's some nice fruit here, but it just gives the impression that there was a more not too long ago. Enjoyed this but I'm sure it won't improve. (Bill Nanson, Switz.)

03/02 Warwick Estate Old Bush Vines Pinotage 1996
Moderate/deep garnet red with significant orange rim. Lifted nose of undergrowth/cabbage/VA. Palate somewhat 'sweaty', with slightly 'mouldy' red fruits, but a nice clean lick of acidity that seems to compensate somehow. Not one for the 'clean fruit' brigade, but increasing interest to it over time - the flaws seem to fade whilst the complexity and terroir seems to come into focus and improve. Tasting with the pizza seemed to take it up another notch again. Initial impression of QG/G gradually upgraded to a G, going on G/VG (Paul Armstrong, UK)

01/02 Warwick Cabernet Sauvingnon 1997 - Stellenbosch
Deep ruby fading slightly to rim, full on heady cedar and cassis nose with oak coming through. First taste is very tannic with the fruit coming through but some serious swirling gives a rich cassis,tar,meaty mouthful that is complex and very satisfying. Better in a couple of years? but V Good now. £9.50 from the WS (Stephen Pickles, UK)

01/02 Yonder Hill Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot 1999
Says 85 and 15%, respectively, on the label for the grapes. Gorgeous vanilla oak nose. Fruity with mouth watering acidity. A really nice forward and drinkable drop. 13.0% abv. £7.99 Majestic. (Daron Fincham, UK)

01/02 1999 Rustenburg, Stellenbosch – John X Merriman
Deep garnet with purple edges. The nose jumps from the glass with intense red cherries, raspberry and redcurrant – unusual considering blend is merlot dominated together with the other two cabs. The palate shares that same intense fruit, good acidity and medium, though mouth coating tannins. Wow – what a find, I like this even more than the Unison. It should keep, but why bother when it is so rewarding today. At ~£12 fabulous QPR too. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

10/01 Sainsburys Pinotage NV £4.50 -13%
Vivid purple right to the rim with a slight blue hue. Black cherries on the nose. Sweet fruit but pretty thin and not a lot of body. More of a Beaujolais style. ruit follows through on the palatte. A quaffable and fruity drink for the summer. (David Pearce, UK)

10/01 Sainsburys reserve Pinotage 2001 £5.50 - 13%
Produced by "Beyerskloof" Bright and deep purple. Cherry and raspberry medley on the nose. Quite light mouthfeel but with some body. Short to medium length. Black cherry in the palatte with a black pepper and earthyness. Bitters from the tannins starting to materalise (or from unaged harsh wood - although there is no wood on the nose) Quinine showing as well. (David Pearce, UK)

10/01 Groencloof Pinotage 1999 £16.00 est
4.5 stars in Platters guide. Deep purple with blue tinges. Raspberries and strawberries and sweet fruit on the nose. Full bodied and alcholic on the nose. Shiraz like in the palatte with white pepper and black fruits. Earthyness showing through on the mid palatte. Medium in length and tannins holding it together well. Again a bitter aftertaste to it. (David Pearce, UK)

10/01 Whalehave Pinot Noir 1998 £11.00 est - 13%
Brick red in colour and classic Pinot on the nose with red fruits and farmyard overtones. Very earthy and quite thin but pallatable and quite enjoyable. Good length but a tad delicate. May fade quickly if not drunk soon. (David Pearce, UK)

10/01 Luddite Shiraz 2000 £16.00 est
500 cases of this made as a winemakers experiment. Deep vivid purple colour and intense black fruit on the nose. Sweet fruits. Good mouthfeel and ripe fruits which hold up well against the 14%alc. Bitters starting to seep through from the tannins. Something missing -a mid palatte hole. Pepper stareting to come through. (David Pearce, UK)

10/01 Boshendal Grande Reserve 1998 £9.00 est - 13.5%
Brownish red (bad storage?) Classic Bordeaux nose but with much more weight and alc. Sweet fruits and depth of flavour good. Quite dense and drinking well although rather advanced for it's age. (David Pearce, UK)

10/01 Meerlust Rubicon 1997 £16.00 - £13%
Amazing bright purple colour with a nose of cherries . Black and ripe fruit and an abundance of cherry and chocolate (like a cherry ripe to you Aussies) Good weight but slightly reminiscent of a Pinot? (David Pearce, UK)

10/01 Boplaas Vintage 1988 (Port style) £20.00 est - 18.9%
Very brown and Olorosso on the nose. Not as voluptous as would have thought. Christmas pudding soaked in Cognac. Rich ripe fruits soaked in alc. Decadent. caramel and raisins spirity and sweet. Quite enjoyable in it's own right though. (David Pearce, UK)

10/01 Rietvallei Red Muscadel 1995 £18 est -17.5%
Rose in colour but showing signs of browning. intense sweetness on the nose of over ripe red fruit, esp strawberries.Exceedingly thick and a bit cloyey. Something (acidity) missing. Rose water stock syrup _like. Grapey and raisins in abundance. Made from 70 year old vines. (David Pearce, UK)

10/01 Kanonkop Paul Sauer 1996
The back label has everything on it from the decomposed granite(!) soil to the yield and age of the vines and the barrel pedigree. Just neglects to say what the grapes were! I suspect a Bordeaux blend with a majority of cabernet sauvignon, for thats what this reminds me of a good left bank claret. Drinking nicely now but won't be at its best till mid 2003 or so. Lovely balance at 12.5% abv. £12.99 Tesco. (Daron Fincham, UK)

09/01 Spice Route Pinotage 1999
Deep extracted colour purple edges,spicy nose,a bit dumb. The palate is full,extracted and chewy, and then there's a mouth coating rubber taste which lasts at least 5 minutes or until water is drunk. How or why the award, I couldn't drink anymore than a mouthful. Any marking would be pointless. Went down the sink as taste likely to survive cooking. (Russ Sainty , UK)

05/01 Hamiltion Russell Walker Bay, Pinot Noir 1994
This wine was over the hill so there was plenty of decaying character to it - that normally I like, but not on this occasion. A definite brown, orange "mature" colour - the sort that would excite a claret drinker - it filled me with anxiety. It smelled very woody, of the old and dirty kind (this blew off on days two and three) and a hint of volatility persisted. Vinegary on the palate. A bit acidic and sharp, though it did mellow over the next couple of days. What this wine lacked was sufficient concentration and sweetness to sustain interest. 12.5% alcohol by volume. £12.99 Noel Young (Daron Fincham, UK)

02/01 Jacques Kruger Cab. Sauv. '95
The label says Cabernet Sauvignon 11% abv, but on opening it seems like something else. The wine is a clear ruby red, with a fragrant and sweet caramel aroma. On the palate there is lively fruit, red fruits rather than black, cherry and plum crumble. Beautifully structured elegant wine in perfect condition for drinking now. Reminds me of the Klein Constantia Shiraz '97 I drank last year. Both are amazing wines from South Africa that you see one year and then strangely never again. (Charles Adams, UK)

01/01 Glen Carlou, Grande Classique, 1998
A Bordeaux blend of Cabernet/Merlot. Dark purple colour, blackcurrants on the nose. Very easy to drink and at £10.99 a bottle a real bargain. (Mark Robertson, UK)

01/01 Graham Beck 1998 Old Road Pinotage, Coastal Region
A spicy, herbal, tannic wine, deep in colour and with plenty of new oak. This is Pinotage in its modern incarnation, without any of the funk or cheesy feet aromas that are often associated with the variety. In fact, I find this too modern and too oaky, lacking in real personality. A very good wine, none the less. (Jamie Goode, UK)

07/00 Klein Constantia Shiraz 1997
Appearance: Really concetrated dark berry juice with a fine sediment that does not really want to settle.
Bouquet: Summer fruit pudding with all spice. After a few hours developed mocha aromas and some volitile acidity.
Palate: More summer fruits with a gentle lingering finish. Excellent New World shiraz, a credit to the genre, but probably best not to give it too much air. Oddbins 7.99 (Charles, UK)

02/00 Overgaauw Cape Vintage Port 1989
This was somewhat overpoweringly alcoholic on the nose at first. Also has lots of aged baked fruit character. This apparently has just been released but already lacks the gushing sweet fruit of a typical New World port style drink that many, me included, find very attractive. (Nick Alabaster - UK)

South Africa white and sparkling

01/04 2003 Chenin Blanc - Cederberg
£6.75 (US$11, 9 Euros). A citrus nose, slightly piercing. A clean mouthfeel but with less acidity than I wanted from this wine leaves it a tad cloying. 84/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

10/03 Graham Beck NV Brut
Nothing really to add to the SuperBOWL notes flavour. Good. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

09/03 Nitída Sémillon Durbanville 2002
Light straw coloured. Smoky nose, fatter than the previous dry whites, with surprising Sauvignon grassy notes and a hint of petrol which I have often found in New World Sémillons. Good plus plus. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

07/03 2001 Vergelegen (67% Sauvignon, 33% Semillon)
Given the time in a proportion of new oak, the first impression of herbs herbaceousness (nettles) wasn't as expected, although a fuller, oakier profile was found underneath. Young in terms of development, but overall I liked the balance between the oak and citrus fruit. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

04/03 Thelema 2002 Sauvignon Blanc
Pale greenish yellow colour. Initially just smelt of "fruit", so I reached for Tom's notes. Then... bingo... *PEA*, or broadbean is the smell :). Clean and crisp to taste, and the pea present throughout... (Jari Worsley, UK)

03/04 Klein Constantia - Vin de Constance
A rich golden colour. The nose was full of honey, raisins and apricots with a little apple. A full unctuous sweet elixir with sweet melon, rasins and apricots on the palate. Well balanced with enough acidity to make me come back for more! (Jason Forman, UK)

02/03 Newton Johnson Chardonnay 2001
Pleasant but straightforward oaky, buttery chard. Seemed to have a bit more complexity on the palate with a leesy/yeasty note. Might well improve nicely in the short term. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

12/02 1991 1997 Klein Constantia "Vin de Constance"
I have had 3 amazing So. African dessert wines out of the MANY that I have tried, and this ranks as number 2nd (behind the 1939 KWV Tawny Port). This wine is made from the Muscat Frontegnac. It is light gold in color and although it is left a few weeks longer than the rest of their Muscat grapes in order to be classified as late harvest, there is no botrytis in the vineyards. It is a light to medium-bodied sticky with honeyed apricot and lychee nut flavors and beautifully developed aromas that prevail. This rivals the labyrinthine complexity of many of the world's greatest dessert wines. This is a WOW wine and I am afraid I will have to go back to South Africa to ever find this legendary wine, again. What the heck was I thinking when only grabbing one of these? (Roy Hersh, USA)

11/02 Danie De Wet RieslingTesco, 4,49
First SA Riesling I have seen. It had none of the grapey sickliness of the first 2 wines and actually tasted like a real Riesling. A bit thin though and apple and pear flavours dominated. Interesting to try, but not to buy. (Cameron Clark, Holland)

09/02 Simonsig 2001 Chenin Blanc - 14% - £6 (US$9)
This oaked version had a light gold colour with a crisp, steely, ripe melon nose. Some residual sugar seemed evident when tasted but good balancing acidity and drinking now. 84/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

07/02 Buitenverwachting Riesling 2001, Constantia
Citrus notes on nose and palate. Slightly sweet mid-palate, dry finish. Tangy acidity. Average length. OK - were previous vintages better, or will this one improve? (David Pope, UK)

07/02 Backsberg Estate 1997 John Martin Sauvignon Blanc
The golden colour is darker than normally encountered in this variety from SA; this may be due to bottle age. On the nose there is an appealing combination of grassiness and nettles and a slight oakiness. The palate shows gentle refreshing acidity with ripe fruit and is generally reminiscent of white Bordeaux rather than SBs from the Loire or Marlborough. Quite a complex mouthful with a lengthy finish. Will continue to drink well for a year or two. 13%abv (David Riach, UK)

07/02 2001 Jordan Blanc Fume, Stellenbosch
Pale colour with mineral flintiness and gooseberries on the nose, slight tingle in the mouth but mellows out with soft stewed gooseberries and rich tropical fruit, lovely yeasty oak, finishes smoothly with fruit showing well through light oak flavours. May need a little more time. Nice. (Dave Sansom , UK)

06/02 Western Cape Academy Chenin Blanc 2001
Typical, quite vegetal-lettucey Chenin nose with a bit of ripe grapefruit and sweet apple fruit. A bit of industrial yeast showing but the whole is pleasantly fruity and balanced, though a bit neutral and watery. Again some lettuce on the finish. Quite drinkable though. L5.25. (Nerval, UK)

06/02 Excelsior Estate Robertson Sauvignon Blanc 2001
Typical and quite cool nose, very grassy and fried-foody in mouth. L4.50 (Nerval, UK)

02/02 Springfield Estate Special Cuvee 2001
£6.99 Waitrose. Wonderful nose with Lychees Gooseberry & perhaps a little hint of Apricot/Oak. Piercingly clear with a good crisp taste, fruit & acid integrated very well to give palate cleansing mouthfeel & good length. Easily as good as anything I have had from New Zealand at any price! I'll be back. (Don Reid, UK)

02/02 Buitenverwachting Chardonnay 2000
How queer! On first taste hated it: vile, confected, 'Dolly Mixture' wine - all oak chippings taste & mouth feel (cloying). Drank half & put rest in fridge. The following evening this ugly duckling had transformed itself into an altogether more sophisticated drink: the fruit & oak battle had lost the bleach like taste of the previous evening and settled into what I felt was a pretty good model for the Penfolds Bin 95A, my white wine of the year last year! Pineapple/grapefruit & melon with a slight metallic tinned fruit taste. Went back to Oddbins & got meself another which I shall not disturb for a couple of years at least. (Don Reid, UK)

01/02 Buitenverwachting Chardonnay 2000
Golden colour. Open bouquet, typical chardonnay nose with a hint of tropical fruit and oak. Fat and long with well integrated oak makes this a new world chardonnay that has more in common with the old world than California/Australia. 90/100 (tasted in December) (Roderick Hopkins, Sweden)

04/01 Chenin Blanc 2000 Simonsig
Sulphury. Quite Green. A bit of wax. Quite candied fruit. Pretty standard new world unoaked white. A bit like NZ SB in a way, but not as good. Palette is birght and refreshing but ultimately rather dull. (Lucian Holland, UK)

09/00 Thelema Chardonnay 1998, Stellenbosch
One of South Africa's most famed Chardonnays, the 1998 vintage is a big but refined wine that carries its 15% alcohol well. It has a rich nose of toasty oak with a creamy, ripe character. It's savoury and rich on the palate, with nutty and lemon notes and great concentration and balance. Overall it is quite soft, with good balancing oak. Very good + (Jamie Goode - UK)

09/00 Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 1998, Walker Bay
Sensational! Rich, mineral-laden Chardonnay with smoky oak. A lovely, complex wine with nicely handled oak. Although I've had this wine before on a couple of occasions, I've never really understood why people have described it as 'Burgundian'. Now I do: this concentrated yet nicely poised effort really impresses. Excellent. (£11, Oddbins Fine Wine, Bentalls, Berry Bros) (Jamie Goode - UK)

09/00 Danie De Wet Bataleur Chardonnay 1998, Robertson
Remarkably expressive high-end South African Chardonnay, with a full nose of toasty, nutty barrel-ferment character and a concentrated palate of lemony fruit, minerals and high acidity. Despite the new oak, this wine is not at all fat: I suspect it was not allowed to undergo full malolactic fermentation, and the resulting bright acidity really brings this complex wine to life. Very good/excellent (£12, Fortnum and Mason) (Jamie Goode - UK)

09/00 Warwick Estate Chardonnay 1999, Stellenbosch
Rich, intense, nutty and toasty Chardonnay with a dense, mineral-laced palate and high acidity. This is a huge savoury wine that represents excellent value for money. Really interesting, perhaps a little rough round the edges for some. Very good + (£6.99, Waitrose) (Jamie Goode - UK)

09/00 Graham Beck 'Lonehill' Chardonnay 1998, Robertson
100% barrel fermented in a mix of new and second fill French oak. A rich, concentrated wine with brisk acidity, well-judged oak and smoky, mineral-laced, nutty complexity. Very good + (£6.99, Thresher) (Jamie Goode - UK)

09/00 Plaisir de Merle Chardonnay 1997, Paarl
A very modern South African Chardonnay that almost gets it right. Light textured, subtle, but with noticeable toasty oak, this is a fresh Chardonnay with some bottle age. Lean and balanced in character, but a bit light in texture and fruit to carry the oak. Good. (£8.99 Tesco) (Jamie Goode - UK)

09/00 De Wetshof Estate Lesca Chardonnay 1998, Robertson
A crisp, fresh and full flavoured Chardonnay, with attractive nutty and toasty character. There is firm acidity, and a slight bitterness on the palate. This is a nice, savoury dry white with well judged but noticeable oak, which represents good value for money. Good/very good. (£5.99 Sainsbury) (Jamie Goode - UK)

09/00 Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc 1999, Stellenbosch
Chenin Blanc is South Africa's most common white variety, and most often goes to make simple, inexpensive and rather plonkish wines. But this is a serious effort, made from 24 year old bush vines and barrel fermented. Gold in colour, this has a lovely toasty, smoky and honeyed nose, with a creamy, wet wool edge. On the palate it is richly textured and toasty, the spicy oak combining well with the concentrated, ripe fruit. Overall, nice varietal character is combined well with careful oaking, to make a complex, attractive wine. Very good/excellent. (£5.69 Oddbins) (Jamie Goode - UK)

09/00 Buitenverwatching Sauvignon Blanc 1998, Constantia
A ripe, fat-textured, full flavoured Sauvignon with crisp acidity to keep it fresh. Cut grass elements predominate on the nose, which are followed up with a rich, lively, spicy palate. Very different to the Marlborough NZ style, but just as interesting. Very good. (Oddbins £7.69) (Jamie Goode - UK)

09/00 Klein Constantia Sauvignon Blanc 1998, Constantia
From an estate with a good reputation for Sauvignon, I was a little bit disappointed by this alcoholic monster (it weighs in at 14.5%). Full-bodied and richly textured, with a distinctive grassy edge. Quite intense, but lacking a real cutting edge. OK/Good. (£6.99, Oddbins) (Jamie Goode - UK)

09/00 Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc 1998, Western Cape
From Anthony Hamilton Russell's new Walker Bay venture comes this attractive but full bodied Sauvignon. It's quite alcoholic (13.5%), with a cut grass nose and a rounded, full-textured palate. There are smoky, mineralic notes, followed up with an acidic kick. Attractive and refined, very much in the South African style. It's a cute gimmick to donate some of the proceeds from each sale to saving the Southern Right whale. Good/very good. (£5.99, Oddbins) (Jamie Goode - UK)

09/00 Klein Constantia Rhine Riesling 1998, Constantia
Light coloured wine with a slight petillance. Attractive, taut, crisp white wine with good concentration and a pleasant citrus edge. On the palate there is complex, lemony fruit. There is probably potential for evolution here; overall it is a bargain. Very good. (£4.99 Oddbins) (Jamie Goode - UK)

09/00 Deetlefs Estate Semillon 1999, WO Breede River Valley
Fresh and tart with cut grass, asparagus and green herbaceous favours. The excessive green character suggests that the grapes failed to attain full ripeness. If you don't mind this, it would make a useful food wine. OK. (Tesco £5.49) (Jamie Goode - UK)

09/00 Rooiberg Winery Chardonnay 1999, Robertson
Neutral, lean and acidic Chardonnay without much character. Dull. (Safeway £3.99) (Jamie Goode - UK)

09/00 Winds of Change Chardonnay 1998, Western Cape
Made by a 'communal property association' at Sonop wine farm, this is an import by the innovative Western Wines. It shows lemony fruit with a bitter finish. Lean and a little bit dirty on the nose. Crisp acidity. Disappointing. (£4.99 Tesco) (Jamie Goode - UK)

09/00 Kumala Chardonnay 2000, Western Cape
A fresh, lemony Chardonnay with a touch of buttery, oaky fatness on the palate. Nicely made, inexpensive Chardonnay that could have come from just about anywhere. Modern but good. (£3.99 Sainsbury) (Jamie Goode - UK)

08/00 Warwick Estate Chardonnay 1999
This is a stunner - at £6.99 in Waitrose, possibly the best value Chardonnay on the market. It is a serious, concentrated wine that neatly straddles the old and new worlds. (Jamie Goode, UK)

08/00 Hamilton Russell chardonnay 1997
Appearance: Surprisingly intense golden yellow
Bouquet: classic balanced chardonnay aroma without any dominant floral or woody elements.
Palate: creamy rich but veering toward under statement making for pleasant easy drinking. Would agree that this is closer to the Old World style but would still have a slight preference for a basic white burgundy such as Girardin's St. Vincent. (Charles, UK)