South Africa came back onto the American wine scene when trade sanctions were lifted in 1993, but its wine history goes back almost 350 years to the Catholic missions of the 1600s and Dutch colonization when large plots of vineyards were planted. All the classics are grown in South Africa, so add its unique tastes to your list of favorites.
This month's selections are available at Zipp's Liquors, 2618 Franklin Ave. E, Mpls., 612-333-8686
Brampton Sauvignon Blanc 2004, $9.99
This wine has a beautiful, lemony nose with a full, rich flavor and would be great with grilled fish tacos in late summer.
Neil Ellis Chardonnay 2003, $19.99
The best of both worlds, this wine has great fruit that could have come from Napa but with subtle nuances (light oak) that evoke Burgundy. Lime, pineapple, and grapefruit flavors fill out this well-balanced wine.
Delheim Shiraz 2002, $18.99
This one is full, robust, and dense, with chocolate, anise, and blackberry fruit on the palate and a very long finish. It will hold up to anything you’re grilling and please lovers of “big” reds.
Graham Beck “Pinno” Pinotage 2003, $8.99
The pinotage grape unique to South Africa is a cross between pinot noir and cinsault. Graham Beck is earthy, but not as earthy as a lot of pinotage. A full-bodied, great value wine with dark fruit and a lingering but soft finish. Try with pizza, a spicy tomato sauce, or grilled pork loin.
Rust en Cabernet Sauvignon 2001, $24.76
This Estate-bottle cabernet is a star. The wine has received well-deserved international acclaim, and is very reasonably priced for what is in the bottle. Good berry fruit, with acid and tannin that should age at least a few more years. A world-class cabernet for a collector on a budget.
Bill Coy runs Vintage U, which organizes wine tastings, classes, and events for corporate groups, wine enthusiasts, and the general public. Reach him at email@example.com.