South African Whites

By / Magazine / December 2nd, 2014 / 6

Long-suffering fans of South African whites rejoice (now, before you get all politically correct on me, let me clarify: I’m talking the wine here). South African white wines are achieving a real flare these days and that’s good for value-seekers.

While South African reds get criticized for tasting (or smelling) “dirty” or “road tar-ish,” or like “burning truck tires” — or in the case of the latest onslaught of Pinotage, achieving an unholy level of coffee character — the white wines are showing purity and delicacy in the aromatics department, while others, such as the Chardonnays, have got a lot of power and strength of character.

Lately I have found myself gravitating towards a number of South African whites, and when I put them in front of friends they are as surprised as I was by the wine in their glass. I am not quite ready to say that there is a resurgence in South African winemaking, but I am here to tell you that their white wines are revving up the bandwagon we’ll soon be jumping on.

Cape Point Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2012 ($15.95)

It’s a pretty bottle, and it houses an elegant Sauvignon Blanc with melon, white peach and hints of lemon pith.

Ken Forrester Reserve Chenin Blanc 2012 ($17.95)

Grilled pineapple and apricot with hints of poached pear; I’ve come to expect good things from South African Chenin and this one seems to deliver.

Bayten Chardonnay 2012 ($17.95)

I found this to be a good-value Chardonnay that hits all the high notes: plump white fruit with apple, pear and peach adding vanilla and hints of butterscotch for good measure, all with a spicy finish.

De Morgenzon DMZ Chardonnay 2012 ($14.95)

Another good-value Chardonnay with subtle pineapple and spice on the nose; palate finds peach with a touch of vanilla-spice; nothing overwhelms, everything seems in pleasant balance.


Michael is an award-winning journalist: Promoting the Promoters Award Cuvée 2010 and Ontario Wine Awards Journalist of the Year 2012.  He is also a national and international wine judge - Ontario Wine Awards, All Canadian Wine Championships; Best of Riesling — Germany; Essencia do Vinho — "Top Wines of Portugal".  He is currently the President of the Wine Writers Circle of Canada and the wine columnist for Ottawa Life and Grand magazine as well as regular contributor to Tidings, and Grapevine ... his reviews have also appeared in the LCBO Vintages magazine. Michael has also added a YouTube channel to his activities where he reviews bottles of great Ontario wine on a weekly basis. In whatever he does, it is Michael’s desire to educate, inspire and encourage others to grow their own love and enthusiasm for wine – and to realize that it is their palate that ultimately makes the decision.

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