We’re big fans of South African wines because of the quality and value they represent for both a restaurant’s wine list and for the consumer who chooses either a glass or a bottle. Two wines we like this winter are the Kanonkop Kadette Cape Blend ’13, a dry and full-bodied option that blends Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc from Stellenbosch, east of Cape Town. It’s 14% alcohol by volume and aged 12 to 14 months in French oak. It’s name comes from “kopje” which means hill, referring to the cannon fired to alert nearby farmers of trading ships coming into port 300 years ago. It’s a delicious choice with hints of berries, cherries, and banana and a spicy finish.
The Raats Family Cabernet Franc ’13 is made with Bruwer Raats’ handpicked grapes that are grown in decomposed dolomite granite. Also in Stellenbosch, these vines are known for their high quality and were brought to the continent by Raats’ ancestors. The nose is rich with rosemary, thyme and lavender and the there are notes of spices (nutmeg, clove and star anise), along with fruits and licorice. It’s complex with good tannins against the berry notes (blueberry, blackberry) and you may even detect dark chocolate. Both are distributed by Cape Classics.