Some of South Africa’s top-end wine prices more palatable than others

AS WITH most things, after a certain point no wine is worth the asking price – no matter how good it is. Beyond that, there is another point up to which avid wine enthusiasts and collectors might splash out or invest, mindful of paying a premium but happy to indulge their wonts. Of course, just where these points are on the sliding scale can vary immensely according to just how serious about wine you are, your spending power and the story behind the label, the provenance, the status.

Sure rarity comes into it, however it’s not always the main criterion for a big ticket item – it doesn’t count at all if there’s no demand. And whereas sometimes the pricing can be explained in part at least, if not completely justified, sometimes it’s too big an ask, sometimes just plain ludicrous. Perhaps it is no surprise therefore that the prices of certain so-called luxury bottlings have dived rather than spiked over the past few years.

That said, for too long South Africa’s best wines have been under-valued relative to their counterparts from Europe, America and elsewhere. And regrettably, as the top producers in the Cape strive for more price parity internationally, what they regard as their extra special stuff is becoming affordable only to the very well-heeled on the domestic market where the rand is under increasing pressure relative to the dollar, pound, euro, etc. The prices below are per 750ml bottle from the producer, unless stated otherwise – listing confined to recently-released vintages priced at R600 plus.

R4700 for G 2013 of 4G Wines, Stellenbosch
Red blend from collaboration involving winemaker Mia Fischer, Giorgio Dalla Cia (previously of Meerlust) and Prof Denis Dubourdieu of Bordeaux, France, former consultant for the d’Yquem and Cheval Blanc. ‘G’ alluding to ‘First Growth’. Varieties and origin not disclosed. More here.

R2875 for Delaire Graff Laurence Graff Reserve 2012, Banghoek, Stellenbosch
Best of estate’s award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon with a dash of Petit Verdot. 5 Star rating in Platter’s. Showpiece property with top restaurants, lodge, spa. Proprietor English diamond dealer Laurence Graff. Winemaker Morné Vrey. More here.

R2500 for Book XVII 2014 of De Toren, Polkadraai Hills, Stellenbosch
Red blend conceptualised by De Toren proprietor Emile den Dulk and Gregor Drescher, “German expert in extreme production techniques”. Promise of 40 years maturation potential. Varieties not disclosed. Lavish packaging. Winemaker: Albie Koch. More here.

R2250 for The Black Lion 2014 of De Toren, Polkadraai Hills, Stellenbosch
“The most powerful and luxurious Shiraz ever produced in South Africa”. Grapes from Swartland and Stellenbosch (Helderberg and Polkadraai). Conceptualised by proprietor Emile den Dulk and Gregor Drescher of Germany (as per Book XVII). Winemaker: Albie Koch. More here.

R1600 for Avondale Navitas 2008, Paarl
Blend of Shiraz, Mourvèdre, Grenache. Organic. Biodynamic. Fermented and matured in large oak barrels, mostly new. “Navitas means energy… The embodiment of Avondale’s unique luminescence…” Winemaker Johnathan Grieve, whose family also owns Vital Health Foods. More.

R1450 for Asara Avalon 2011, Stellenbosch
“Italian style wine” from vine-dried Pinotage and Shiraz grapes. Dessicated. A twist on Amarone; a Cape Blend with a twist. Estate with 5 Star hotel owned by Markus Rahman, German businessman from Hong Kong with roots in Namibia. Winemaker: Danielle le Roux. More here.

R1450 for Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage 2014, Simonsberg-Stellenbosch
From really old bush vines. What property owners Johann and Paul Krige with winemaker Abrie Beeslaar consider to be their best wine. Highly rated ‘standard’ version (Hall of Fame). Named after hill on which a canon was fired to alert farmers of supplies arriving at Table Bay. More here.

R1375 for Simonsig The Garland 2008, Koelenhof, Stellenbosch
Single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from grapes grown on the slopes of the Simonsberg. Matured for 26 months in new French oak. Family-owned-and-managed estate with winemakers Francois Malan (MD) and Johan Malan (cellarmaster). More here.

R1300 for Rust en Vrede 1694 Classification 2013, Helderberg, Stellenbosch
Blend of single-vineyard Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Estate blend a regular in Top Wine SA Hall of Fame. Farm established in 1694 and acquired by the Engelgbrecht family in 1977. Good restaurant. Proprietor Jean Englelbrecht. Cellarmaster Coenie Snyman. More here.

R1200 for Capensis 2013, Western Cape
Meaning ‘from the Cape’, Capensis originates from old Chardonnay vines in the Stellenbosch, Overberg and Robertson areas. Proprietors: US-based Barbara Banke and Antony Beck (of Graham Beck Wines). Winemaker Graham Weerts. Vineyard manager Rosa Kruger. More here.

R1200 for Vergelegen V 2011, Somerset West
Single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, barrel-matured for 21 months and bottle-aged for 24 months prior to release. Established in the early 1700s, Vergelegen was bought by Anglo American in 1987. Winemaker André van Rensburg. More here.

R1050 for Mvemve Raats de Compostella 2014, Raats, Polkadraai Hills, Stellenbosch
Meaning ‘The Compillation of Stars’, De Compostella is the result of a collaboration involving agribusiness manager Mvemve Raats and winemaker Bruwer Raats. Highly-rated Cab Franc-led Bordeaux-style blend. 24 months in barrel. Promise of 15 years maturation potential. More here.

R1000 for Webb Ellis 2010 from Neil Ellis, Stellenbosch
Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon from Jonkershoek Valley in Stellenbosch and Shiraz from Groenekloof, Darling. 20 months in French oak barrels, 80% new. Proprietor: Neil Ellis, whose wife Stephanie’s maiden name is Webb. Winemaker: Warren Ellis. More here.

R980 for Hanneli R 2011 from La Motte, Franschhoek
Shiraz-based blend inspired by La Motte owner, Hanneli Rupert-Koegelenberg, whose Shiraz-led Pierneef blend is in the Top Wine SA Hall of Fame. Shiraz from Elim and Bot River, Petite Sirah and Tempranillo from Franschhoek. Up to 40 months in wood. Cellarmaster: Edmund Terblanche. More here.

R950 for Dirty Little Secret 2015 of Ken Forrester Vineyards, Helderberg, Stellenbosch
From THE ambassador for Chenin Blanc in South Africa with the promise of good ageing potential. From old vines on a remote mountainside in the Piekenierskloof outside Citrusdal. Five months in old barrels. “A unique once off.” Also producer of The FMC (Hall of Fame). More here.

R900 for Rijk’s 888 Pinotage Gold 2010, Tulbagh
From one of the Top 10 Pinotage producers, with the ‘standard’ version a regular in the Top Wine SA Hall of Fame. Specialist producer with three wines in the SA Pinotage Classification. Proprietor Neville Dorrington, previously in leather goods business. Winemaker: Pierre Wahl. More here.

R900 for Rust en Vrede Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Helderberg, Stellenbosch
Single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. One of the Cape’s oldest wine estates, the farm was established in 1694 and acquired by the Engelgbrecht family in 1977. Good restaurant, outstanding winelist. Proprietor Jean Englelbrecht. Cellarmaster Coenie Snyman. More here.

R900 for Rust en Vrede Single Vineyard Syrah 2013, Helderberg, Stellenbosch
Single-vineyard Shiraz. One of the Cape’s oldest wine estates, the farm was established in 1694 and acquired by the Engelgbrecht family in 1977. Good restaurant, outstanding winelist. Proprietor: Jean Englelbrecht. Cellarmaster: Coenie Snyman. More here.

R900 for Waterford The Jem 2010, Helderberg, Stellenbosch
Jem is the name by which friends and family refer to estate proprietor Jeremy Ord, chairman of Dimension Data. The wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon-led blend that also includes seven other varieties. 20 months in barrels, 33% new. Ten to 15 years’ development potential. Cellarmaster: Kevin Arnold. More here.

R850 for Flagstone Time Manner Place Pinotage Reserve 2012, Somerset West
“Obsessive selections of selections of selections.” From the producer’s of the highly-rated Writer’s Block, one of the front-runners in Top Wine SA’s Pinotage Classification. Brand owners: Accolade. Winemakers: Gerhard Swart and Bruce Jack. More here.

R850 for Creation The Art of Chardonnay 2015, Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge
“Inspired by nature and meticulously crafted by cellarmaster Jean-Claude Martin, each single-vineyard wine in this range is the ultimate expression of its terroir and indeed an exquisite and multifaceted artwork in its own right.” Proprietors: Jean-Claude and Carolyn Martin. More here.

R850 for Creation The Art of Pinot Noir 2014, Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge
“Inspired by nature and meticulously crafted by cellarmaster Jean-Claude Martin, each single-vineyard wine in this range is the ultimate expression of its terroir and indeed an exquisite and multifaceted artwork in its own right.” Proprietors: Jean-Claude and Carolyn Martin. More here.

R830 for Anthonij Rupert 2009, Franschhoek
Red blend from grapes grown on two farms, L’Ormarins (Franschhoek) and Rooderust (Darling). Matured in new French oak for 24 months and aged for a further 24 months in bottle before release. Proprietor: businessman Johann Rupert, whose late brother the wine is named after. More.

R826 for Bouchard Finlayson Tête de Cuvée Galpin Peak Pinot Noir 2012, Hemel-en-Aarde
Property the home of one of South Africa’s best Pinot Noir cellars; Top Wine SA Hall of Fame. Tête de Cuvée showcases a selection of top barrels, the best of the best. Proprietors: the Tollman family, also owners of The Travel Corporation (including Red Carnation Hotels), with the estate run by Victoria Tollman and winemaker Peter Finlayson. More here.

R820 for Saxenburg Shiraz Select 2007, Polkadraai Hills, Kuils River
Saxenburg’s icon range is a celebration of the finest wines from the best vines on the estate. Property’s Private Collection Shiraz one of the Top 10 in the country (Top Wine SA Hall of Fame). Owners: Adrian and Birgit Bührer of Switzerland. Winemaker: Nico van der Merwe. More here.

R795 for Frans K Smit from Spier, Stellenbosch
Spier’s “super-blend”, with the flagship wine named in honour of the cellarmaster. Positioned as “a world-class red with a unique story”. Bordeaux varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot) with a touch of Shiraz. Proprietor: Dick Enthoven, also owner of Hollard and Nando’s. More here.

R790 for Dalla Cia Teano 2011, Stellenbosch
Blend of red Bordeaux varieties with the Tuscan Sangiovese. Over 24 months in barrel. Worthy of cellaring for a decade or more. Proprietors: George (Jnr) and Georgio (Snr) Dalla Cia, former winemaker at Meerlust and with a hand in the 4G project. More here and here.

R750 for Klein Constantia Vin de Constance Natural Sweet 2011 (500ml), Constantia
“Over 300 years of history in every bottle.” Included on top winelists around the world. Top Wine SA Hall of Fame. Dessert from Muscat de Frontignan. Proprietors: Czech/US businessman Zdenek Bakala and banker Charles Harman (British). Winemaker: Matthew Day. More here.

R750 for Môreson Magia 2007, Franschhoek
A red wine “over-achiever”, the award-winning Bordeaux-style blend in the family. Grapes from Durbanville, Stellenbosch and Paarl. Matured for 24 months in French oak barrels. Proprietor: Richard Friedman. Winemaker: Clayton Reabow. More here.

R750 for Valafonté Series C 2013, vineyard in Paarl, cellar in Stellenbosch
Predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, some Merlot. SA partner: manager Mike Ratcliffe (Warwick). Californian partners: winemaker Zelma Long (previously of Robert Mondavi Winery), viticulturist Phil Freese (designed and planted first Opus One vineyards). More here.

R735 for Sadie’s Mev Kirsten 2014, Malmesbury, Swartland
Profound expression of Chenin Blanc from Eben Sadie’s Old Vine Series. Named after Mrs Anna Kirsten, former owner of the vineyard from which the grapes are sourced, who died in 2015 at the age of 90. Distinctive characteristics from vines planted roughly 100 years ago. More here.

R725 for Mullineux Single Terroir Syrah 2013, Riebeek Kasteel, Swartland
Granite Syrah from 19-year-old vines on the Paardeberg. Schist Syrah from 17-year-old vines on the Kasteelberg. Iron Syrah from organically-farmed vines west of Malmesbury – 5 Stars in Platter’s. Winemakers: Chris and Andrea Mullineux. More here.

R654 for Sadie Columella 2013, Malmesbury, Swartland
Signature red wine of The Sadie Family business headed by Eben Sadie – Palladius being the white wine flagship of the cellar in the Paardeberg foothills. One of South Africa’s best wines from one of South Africa’s leading winemakers. Explorative, innovative, adventurous. More here.

R650 for Carrol Boyes Pinot Noir Chardonnay Collection Méthode Cap Classique 2011
Trophy winner at South Africa’s Michelangelo Awards. From Barnardt Boyes of Stellenbosch who procure wines from various leading cellars. Neels Barnardt and John Boyes have partnered with designer Carrol Boyes who creates a different label for each vintage. More here and here.

R650 for Ernie Els Signature 2012, Helderberg, Stellenbosch
Cabernet Sauvignon-led Bordeaux-style blend. Aged for 20 months in French oak barrels, 70% new. Maturation potential of 15 years plus. Highly rated; Top Wine SA Hall of Fame. Proprietor: Ernie Els, professional golfer. Winemaker: Louis Strydom. More here.

R609 for Dalla Cia Pinot Noir 2013, Stellenbosch
Partly fermented in French oak barrels and matured in wood for a further 18 months. Ageing potential up to 10 years. Proprietors: George (Jnr) and Georgio (Snr) Dalla Cia, former winemaker at Meerlust and with a hand in the 4G project. More here and here.

R600 for Mulderbosch Single Vineyard Chenin Blanc 2014, Polkadraai Hills, Stellenbosch
There are three ‘Special Releases’ of Mulderbosch Single Vineyard Chenin Blanc: Block A, Block S1 and Block W – the latter Highly Recommended in Platter’s. Proprietor: Charles Banks (USA), former managing partner of Screaming Eagle Winery (California). Winemaker: Adam Mason. More here.

R600 for Uva Mira Chardonnay 2014, Helderberg, Stellenbosch
Single-vineyard wine. Ultimate expression of the terroir. “The heartbeat of Uva Mira.” Nine months in 65% new oak barrels. Highly rated. For the wine collector and connoisseur. Proprietor: Toby Venter, of Porsche SA. Winemaker: Christiaan Coetzee. More here.

R600 for Uva Mira O.T.V. 2013, Helderberg, Stellenbosch
Bordeaux-style red blend: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Eighteen months in 100% new oak barrels. Commemorating the lifework of the owner’s father, Ockert Tobias Venter Snr. For the connoisseur. Winemaker: Christiaan Coetzee. More here.

2 comments

  • And then yet another big-ticket wine… At R600 a bottle from the cellar, The Grande Provence Amphora 2015 is a Franschhoek Chenin Blanc (with 6% Muscat de Frontignan) fermented and matured in 400-litre clay amphorae imported from Florence, Italy.

  • And then there were 40, i.e. South African wines priced at R600 plus… Launched at R895 a bottle from the cellar: The Tangram 2012 from Durbanville Hills, a Cabernet Sauvignon-led Bordeaux-style red blend – a tangram being a Chinese puzzle comprising a square cut into various shapes with which to form other shapes.