Posted on 09.08.20 #167

Buy South African: my wines for the BBC’s Bill Buckley

This week’s I’m devoting the whole of my wine hour with Bill to South Africa. Why? Because the country’s wine industry is fighting for its future in the face a domestic alcohol ban.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa re-introduced the ban (the first was lifted just a few weeks earlier) to try to halt the spread of Covid 19, and ease the pressure on hospital admissions. However, the wine industry says the measure will have a devastating impact on jobs and could lead to businesses going under.

We can do our bit to help if we buy exported South African wine, so it’s time to take a fresh look at some of the wines easily available in the UK market.

We start with a sparkler apparently known as ‘The President’s Choice’ as it was served at the inauguration of Nelson Mandela. Graham Beck Brut (£12.99 on a Mix Six at Majestic Wineis made using the same ‘Traditional Method’ used for Champagne, and it features two of the same grapes, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It’s fresh and zesty, with a lovely doughy core and an elegant finish – a stonking alternative to Champagne at a great price.

Our next wine has some heritage, with the winery founded by French settlers in 1685. Boschendal Sauvignon Blanc (£9 at Tescohas a little Semillon in the mix room rather like a Bordeaux white. It offers fresh citrus, with some plush tropical notes around a juicy fruity core.

Chardonnay is another of South Africa’s star varieties and our next wine offers a lap of luxury for not much more than £15. Vergelegen Reserve Chardonnay (£15.99 at Simply Wines Direct in Pangbourne, or online at, from another of the Cape’s historic estates, offers bright citrus, wild honey and ripe honeydew melon, with nicely integrated new French oak, all structured around a tight spine of acidity. It’s a delicious wine, more than worth the price tag.

Finally, I have selected a barbecue red for the heatwave. Rustenberg Malbec (£8.99 from Waitrose – normally £11.99 but on promo until August 25th) comes from yet another historic property, this time in the city of Stellenbosch. It has juicy bramble fruit, ripe plum,  fine-grained tannins and a lovely crack of black pepper. At the promotional price, this is really good value.

I hope you enjoy the selection – let’s do all we can to support South Africa.


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