Over the years I have been to hundreds of wine trade tastings but never have I had to queue to get into one because it was over-subscribed... until last week.
The tasting in question was the third New Wave South Africa tasting, and it says much about the current view of South African wines within the trade that this tasting was sold out.
I have seldom, if ever, experienced such excitement and energy at a wine tasting.
Clearly these are exciting times for the South African wine industry and, as a result, for consumers as well.
Sadly many of the wines shown last week are only made in small volumes but here are a few of my highlights from the tasting that you should be able to track down.
The Liberator is a range of wines put together by British wine merchant Richard Kelley MW, and each wine comes complete with quirky label and name.
The Liberator Episode 19 ‘Teeth of the Dog’ 2017, Simonsberg-Paarl (£17.99 thesolentcellar.co.uk) is no exception.
Although aged in some new wood, this wine manages to show great restraint, the nose shows some fresh pineapple, green apple, citrus and toasty spice, followed by a nicely textured palate with some crunchy acidity and a long finish.
At less than £20 this is fine chardonnay to serve with some roasted fish such as brill or turbot.
Johan Reyneke is one of the most inspiring wine producers you could ever wish to meet.
His organic farm in Stellenbosch produces some of the most brilliant and thought-provoking South African wines you will ever taste.
The year 2017 was hailed as a great vintage in South Africa and Reyneke Syrah 2017, Stellenbosch (£14.75 Hermitage Cellars) is certainly proof of that.
Made from bio-dynamically farmed grapes, the fermentation was allowed to occur naturally. It was then aged in older French oak barrels.
This is very much a Rhone-style syrah with an aromatic nose offering red fruits, white pepper, some savoury notes and spices, followed by a really fresh mouth-feel with more red fruits and some ripe tannins, before a beautifully balanced finish.
What I like about this is its freshness and purity of fruit. Try this with a southern French style cassoulet while it is still young.
I’m not sure South Africa has a cult wine yet but if there is one in the making it may well be Savage Wines Follow the Line 2017, Darling (£27.95 swig.co.uk).
Made by Duncan Savage, this is mainly cinsault with a little syrah from the Cape’s cool climate west coast. This is another red wine with gorgeous aromatics. The bouquet has fresh raspberries, cranberries, rose petals, dried herbs and a little earthiness, followed by more red fruits on the palate with fresh acidity, finely tuned tannins and a mouth-watering finish. A wine of great elegance and purity – serve with a herb-infused roast leg of lamb.