Who decided which countries are classed as New World and which as Old World when it comes to wine? It seems a little harsh that with a rich winemaking history dating back to the mid-1600s, South Africa is lumped into the former. We think it actually forms a bridge between the two... Not quite as in-your-face as wines from Australia, but much more approachable and easier to understand than those of France, South African wines run the gamut from the staunchly traditional to the fiercely modern.
Many are made in a French-style using similar blends to that of Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) or the Rhône (Shiraz and friends) for example. The great thing about these old school Saffers is that they often deliver much more for your money than their Gallic inspiration. South Africa's great white hope, Chenin Blanc, should, in our opinion, be the next big thing. The fact it hasn't had the success of Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio yet has helped to keep the price down. These underrated beauties are truly delicious though.
Then there are relatively new regions making elegant wines from cooler climate grape varieties like Riesling and Pinot Noir and The Cape is also a hotbed for vinous innovation; one of our favourite wines of last year was aged in barrels submerged underwater, for example.
The strength of the Rand and increasing production and shipping costs have caused South African wine prices to creep up fractionally in recent years, causing more competition from Europe. This has led to many large brands starting to ship in bulk and bottle their wines in the UK to keep prices down. However, Oddbins has chosen to support the South African wine industry, including their bottlers and boutique winemakers who can't produce the volumes required to do this, by sticking to wines bottled in South Africa.
Anyway, we'd better wrap this love letter to South Africa up before we embarrass ourselves, and let you crack on and dive in..