South African Wine is Great Value... For Now


On Sept 12, during the first-ever Global Wine Education Week initiated by UK-based Wines & Spirits Education Trust, we hosted our second blind tasting night, this time featuring Syrah vs Shiraz.

With the help of our wine educator friends at Wine Language, we shared the typical flavor characteristics of Syrah/Shiraz, their similarities and differences with our intimate group of 10 participants. Six bottles were blind tasted, consisting of 3 Syrahs and 3 Shiraz. Four South African labels were entered into the mix, one French Syrah (St Joseph) and one Australian Shiraz from Barossa.

In the same form as our previous Bordeaux vs South African Night in April, we asked our participants to rate the wines on points out of 100, and once again the tasting demonstrated South Africa’s unique value in the wine world. The ripe fruit forward Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2016 came top on the night, but buyers would need to pay a 30% premium for the privilege when compared to the second placed Gabrielskloof Landscape Series Syrah on Sandstone 2015.

Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2016 
Gabrielskloof Syrah on Sandstone 2015 
S$48 87 2nd
Bellingham Basket Press Syrah 2015 S$58 86 3rd
Vergenoegd Shiraz 2015 S$42 86 4th
Luddite Shiraz 2014 S$58 85 5th
Pierre Gaillard Clos de Cuminaille St Joseph '15 S$62 81 6th


SA Wines Getting Noticed 

British wine critic, Tim Atkin MW, recently released his seventh South African Report, and two of his key observations were that there is an increasing emergence of a fine wine category in South Africa; and that the region is diversifying its varietals and building a reputation beyond the usual Cabernet Sauvignon/Bordeaux blends and Pinotages from Stellenbosch.  Atkin's top red wine this year is a Syrah (Boschkloof Epilogue Syrah 2018), which he awarded 99 points.

Fine South African wine is gaining recognition in London too, where selective labels are making appearances on more and more wine lists.  We continue to believe that South African wine is great value, but as a wider audience come to appreciate the quality/price ratio is substantially in South Africa’s favour, we don’t expect it to stay this way forever.