Second labels, second- and third-tier wines, bargains from South Africa’s top cellars for a lot less than the champs

SOMETIMES it’s simply about achieving as good as it gets on a smaller budget. Sometimes it’s a way of handling the left-overs or dealing with what’s declassified after bottling the really good stuff. But, it should go without saying that the second- or third-tier wines from the country’s premier producers are usually worth experimenting with if not already well renowned for their reliability as great value, everyday drinking.

True. There are cellars with one or two wines worthy of song and dance while the rest of the products hardly cause a blip on the radar. But there are other wineries where the portfolio caters for special occasions as well as good quaffers that regularly over-deliver and for a fraction of the prices commanded by the flag-bearers. Of the big players in South Africa: think “Classic” KWV, a few steps down from The Mentors, Cathedral Cellar, Reserve et al; there are the Fleur du Cap wines without the “Unfiltered” moniker; and Stellenzicht have a few bargains under their Hill & Dale label.
 

And it’s often the medium-sized and smaller outfits among South Africa’s Top 100 cellars that come up with the added bonus of some interest value among the best bargains on shelf. In this regard, undoubtedly two of the most stand-out examples are Kleine Zalze’s Cellar Selection range, distinct from the Stellenbosch cellar’s more high profile Vineyard Selection and Family Reserve, and the Porcupine Ridge range from Boekenhoutskloof of Franschhoek, home of wines ranked among the country’s Top 10 Cabernet and Top 10 Shiraz. Particularly oustanding in this regard are Kleine Zalze’s Bush Vines Chenin Blanc, one of the Top 10 in the category when it comes to best track records whatever the price, and the Porcupine Ridge Syrah, quite different to the glorious Boekenhoutskloof Syrah but also quite delicious.

10 TOP ‘SECOND-LABEL’ WHITES

Cape Atlantic Sauvignon Blanc, Cederberg – R40
Diemersdal Matys Sauvignon Blanc – R37
Flagstone Noon Gun (dry white blend) – R38
Flagstone Poetry Sauvignon Blanc – R38
Fleur du Cap Bergkelder Selection Chardonnay – R55
Klein Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc – R51
Kleine Zalze Cellar Selection Chenin Blanc – R41
Kleine Zalze Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc – R52
KWV Chardonnay – R42
KWV Sauvignon Blanc – R42

 

10 TOP ‘SECOND-LABEL’ REDS

Chamonix Rouge (Bordeaux-style blend) – R48
Eikendal Rouge (Shiraz- and Petit Verdot-led blend) – R45
Flagstone Poetry Cabernet Sauvignon – R48
Hill & Dale Pinotage, Stellenzicht – R50
Jordan Chameleon Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot – R63
Kleine Zalze Cellar Selection Cabernet Sauvignon – R58
KWV Pinotage – R57
Porcupine Ridge Syrah, Boekenhoutskloof – R50
Rustenberg Ida’s Red (blend) – R55
Saxenburg Guinea Fowl Merlot Cabernet Shiraz – R60