Best Wines I’ve Tasted In 2018 (so far)

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2018 is six months old, which makes it half dead. This means I’ve spent just enough time gallivanting through the winelands to justify an early stab at the best South African wines of the year list. This is a rough draft, a first pass, an early access look at the wines I loved most. The ones that I will definitely remember from 2018.

Philosophie 2014

Produced by: Vondeling

Right at the top of my list, this wine will definitely reward the discerning palate. Each year a rare Paardeberg flower is selected and illustrated by an artist of their choice to create a unique label. The one featured on the 2014 vintage is the Haemanthus sanguineus, that occurs in the fynbos vegetation of the Paardeberg area.

Philosophie 2014 Magnum and Box e1530005813874 Best Wines Ive Tasted In 2018 (so far)

In this vintage, a small vineyard of ultra-low-yielding Cabernet Sauvignon, takes centre stage and is handsomely supported by fellow Bordeaux companions, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Winemaker Matthew Copeland likes minimal intervention winemaking, leaving the fruit to speak for itself. The palate has a weight and grip that leaves a lasting impression. This is a silky and seductive top-end wine from Vondeling and a true testimony to the quality of grapes that region can deliver.

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The Amphora 2016

Produced by: Grande Provence

One of the most intriguing Grande Provence wines, The Amphora 2016, is made from Chenin Blanc fermented on the skins for 7 months in Tuscan clay amphorae with just a dash of Muscat d’Alexandrie (1%). This is a pure and raw expression of the variety made in a way that encapsulates Chenin Blanc in its totality.

the grande provence amphora 2016 gpwc Best Wines Ive Tasted In 2018 (so far)

The result is a textured and multi-layered wine that needs time to evolve in your glass and pushes the boundaries in terms of what we think Chenin should be. It’s a very stylish wine with complexity and freshness, from a fantastic portfolio. The Grande Provence Chenin Blanc 2017 is selling for R90 and well worth seeking out.

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Galpin Peak Pinot Noir 2016

Produced by: Bouchard Finlayson

The Hemel en Aarde valley is largely considered South Africa’s best region for Pinot Noir and Bouchard Finlayson is one of the country’s best producers of this fickle varietal. The winery has received global acclaim in the International Wine Challenge (IWC) 2018 for the 2016 vintage of this wine, not only taking a GOLD medal, but also winning Trophies as BEST SA PINOT NOIR, as well as BEST SA RED.

bouchard finlayson 2016 galpin peak pinot noir with glass Best Wines Ive Tasted In 2018 (so far)

The Galpin Peak Pinot Noir has a robust intensity that’s difficult not to like. This is what the Pinot Noir grape is all about. It is bright, intense and almost cleansing in its character with lashings of cherry and red-fruit flavours and a pleasing oakiness. Good to drink now, but could be kept for another decade.

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