Irresistible South Africa – Special Report

Exceptional quality at every price level, LCBO limited time offers and lingering memories of another unforgettable Cape Wine

by Michael Godel

This feature was commissioned by Wines of South Africa

Eight months have passed since my last great journey to the wine lands of South Africa’s Western Cape and neither memories nor great heart have faded even just one bit. The Cape’s beauty is everywhere, breathtaking beauty, at every turn, in vineyards, across estates and especially in people that give their all to craft some of the world’s most special wines. That is why the coming weeks present an opportunity by way of an increased presence and access because Wines of South Africa and the LCBO team up once again. Prepare to be smitten by an offer of a set of Cape wines that collectively speak to both quality and value. Undervalued already, these limited time offers (LTOs) deliver a diverse set of varietal wines and appellative blends at prices 50 percent below what these wines are worth. To pass them by and not take advantage would be crazy. These are your summer wines, laid out like a shilling dinner and only a fool would shuffle past without purchase.

P4 = promotional period (June 19 – July 15), APP = Aeroplan Points, LTO = Limited Time Offer

Wine Thieves Podcast on Wines of South Africa:

  • Don’t miss the latest episode of the Wine Thieves podcast where John Szabo MS & Sara d’Amato embark upon a South African “wine safari” exploring the fun, irreverent, and innovative nature of the South African wine industry with special guests Pieter Walser of Blank Bottle Wines based in Sommerset West near Stellenbosch, and Peter-Allan Finlayson of Crystallum Wines and Gabrielskloof in the Bot River region.  

Fynbos, Vergelegen Estate

The LCBO’s Destination Collection includes the “Discover the Wines of South Africa” promotion headline that reads “with a 350-year winemaking tradition, South Africa blends high-quality production with eco-friendly practices, making it one of the most exciting and earth-friendly wine regions around.” Truth spoken. The Wines of South Africa (WoSA) offer is an opportunity for customers to spend a total of $30 on any South African wines to receive 40 APP (Aeroplan Points) and runs from Monday, June 19th through to Sunday, July 16th. See below for a WineAlign crü Buyers’ Guide to current LCBO and VINTAGES Essentials LTOs for South African wines.

Godello and Szabo in Hermanus

John Szabo MS and I were in the Cape together back in October of 2022 and he has penned a piece called “Investment grade South African wines for the cellar”. It will be worth your time to open up a separate tab to read up on John’s outlook. As he explains here, “which, ounce for ounce, consistently overdeliver on sheer quality and pleasure for the price. Add in longevity and the capacity to develop and improve over many years, and you have the recipe for investment grade wine, especially if you consider it an investment in future pleasure and care less about re-selling the wines down the road for profit.”

Ernie Els Estate, Stellenbosch

Reminiscences are part of everyday life but anyone who has traveled through South Africa will find those particular recollections as strong and vivid as any. Back in February I penned my post-Cape Wine 2022 article Seeing Western Cape stars: A guide to Cape Wine 2022 with a recounting of regenerative and creative farming, old vines, new frontiers, 80 recommended current releases and the deliciously addictive South African snack known as braai brekkies. Despite that post’s lack of brevity there was simply no way to fully package 11 days of tasting, eating, conversing and trekking in the Western Cape. Not to mention how much time it truly takes to fully assimilate and gain a deep understanding of what was seen, heard and felt on that trip. I am no stranger to extensive travel but there is no wine producing country that gets under your skin and keeps you perpetually energized like South Africa. Fatigue and jet lag are non issues but being anxious about missing something or skipping moments where the incredible are guaranteed to happen – now these are real issues. So allow me some latitude to recall and expand on some quintessential Cape moments. After two unforgettable visits in 2015 and 2018, the third Cape Wine expedition is now cementing into the stuff of legend.

Celebrating Rosa Kruger in Cape Town

The certification system for of Old Vines

It begins, as it must, with South Africa’s cast of characters, the beloved Old Vines Project’s André Morgenthal, original concierge of Wines of South Africa and Rosa Kruger, progenitor of the OVP. As I previously noted, “Over the past 20 years viticulturalist (Kruger) has focused on discovering, classifying, cataloguing and certifying heritage vineyards. It was a great pleasure to chat with Kruger at a Wines of South Africa ceremony and tasting at Cape Wine 2022, which celebrated her 2022 Decanter Hall of Fame Award. And also with the legend (Morgenthal), orchestrator of the tasting of old vines wines. It is remarkable to see how many estates and producers have come on board — to celebrate and show off the wines they are making from 35-year-old (and older) dry-farmed bush vines. Many vines are even pushing or exceeding the century mark.” With thanks to André and Rosa there was an evening’s opportunity to taste dozens of certified old vines examples, many of which were covered in my last report.

Signatory authority Chenin Blanc

As for chenin blanc, if you are a grower, producer or winemaker in the Western Cape, signing a contract for yourself with chenin blanc, well then you’re good to go. Sign away. Planting, resurrecting, reviving, perpetuating and extenuating chenin blanc vine circumstances  to make varietal wines is like finding and selling gold. Since 2011, local chenin blanc sales have doubled, including an 11 percent increase between 2021 to 2022, while total exports (packaged and bulk) have nearly tripled in that 11-year span, also with an 8.5 percent gain from ’21 to ’22. These increases have occurred because the chameleon can play in any sandbox and become anything a consumer wishes it to be – this despite total planted hectarage having decreased 10 percent since 2011. Name a grape tied to a place’s success anywhere near equal to the symbiotic relationship between chenin and the Western Cape? Please don’t say malbec and Mendoza. The future will always be chenin blanc, worldwide and especially here in Canada. Canadians have embraced and fallen sick in love. If you are already one of them, or even if you are yet to have sipped the Kool-Aid, there is always a next level chenin blanc waiting for you.

Zeroing in on sites in reds and whites

Soon enough it will be ten years since I first referred to growing anything and everything in the Western Cape as being akin to a viticultural “wild west.” The ancient geology split between decomposed granites, Malmesbury, Bokkeveld or Witteberg shales and Table Mountain sandstone make for the most diverse and paradoxically hospitable grounds where the varietal spectrum is encouraged. The morphology of my personal understanding grew to look at land and vine as something more focused and the map of varietal matched to place began to take shape. Writing here in 2023 brings white and red varietal wines, plus the coalescence into appellative blends into pinpointed accuracy where winemakers make their mark based on experiential decisions. Heritage vineyards are nearly always key, magical conversion rates create situations unparalleled, but the very presence of rampant sustainable and regenerative agriculture is what truly separates and indeed defines the wine production of South Africa. The Western Cape faces never-ending challenges because of isolation, climate extremes and internal political struggle but I have written this before. “The (wines) are too good to miss, not just a handful but hundreds of outstanding examples. Quality has risen exponentially, virtually across all places of origin, including new frontiers. The stars are out, and they are aligned.” I give you 30 further examples; varietal whites and reds, white and red blends, plus one dirty little secret.


Varietal Whites

A.A. Badenhorst Chenin Blanc The Golden Slopes 2021, WO Swartland

Alheit Vineyards Chenin Blanc Nautical Dawn 2021, WO Stellenbosch

Craven Wines Pinot Gris 2022, WO Stellenbosch

Crystallum Chardonnay The Agnes 2021, WO Western Cape

David And Nadia Sadie Wines Plat’bos Chenin Blanc 2021, WO Swartland

Domaine Des Dieux Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2018, WO Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge

Hamilton Russell Vineyard Chardonnay 2021, WO Hemel-en-Aarde Valley

Huis Van Chevallerie Palomino Old Vines Spookberg 2021, WO Piekenierskloof

Le Bonheur Chardonnay 2022, WO Stellenbosch

Leeu Passant Chardonnay 2020, WO Stellenbosch

Momento Wines Grenache Gris 2021, WO Voor Paardeberg

Rall Wines Cinsault Blanc 2021, WO Swartland

Springfield Estate Albariño 2020, WO Robertson

Hemel-en-Aarde Pinot Noir

Varietal Reds

Hamilton Russell Ashbourne Pinotage 2020, WO Hemel-en-Aarde Valley

Kleine Zalze Grenache Vineyard Selection 2021, WO Stellenbosch

Porseleinberg Syrah 2018, WO Swartland

Restless River Pinot Noir Le Luc 2021, WO Hemel-en-Aarde

Reyneke Syrah Biodynamic 2020, WO Stellenbosch

Saurwein Pinot Noir NOM 2021, WO Elandskloof

Storm Wines Pinot Noir 2020, WO Hemel-en-Aarde Valley

The legend André Morgenthal and friend at Cape Agulhas

White Blends

Avondale Cyclus 2019, WO Paarl

Mullineux Old Vines White 2021, WO Swartland

Sadie Family Palladius Liberatus In Castro Bonae Spei 2020, WO Swartland

Memorial to Arniston, Cape Agulhas

Red Blends

Beaumont Wines New Baby 2019, WO Bot Rivier

Blackwater Wines Sophie MMXX 2020, WO Western Cape

La Motte Hanneli R 2015, WO Western Cape

Radford Dale Black Rock 2014, WO Swartland

Savage Wines Are We There Yet 2021, WO Malgas

Sijnn Red 2016, WO Malgas

Something Other

Ken Forrester Dirty Little Secret Vin Blanc #3, WO Piekenierskloof

Beauty in Hermanus

Buyers’ Guide to current LCBO and VINTAGES Essentials LTOs for South African wines


K W V The Vinecrafter Chenin Blanc 2022, WO Western Cape
$13.00, Philippe Dandurand Wines Ltd.
Michael Godel – Crisp, clean, herbal yet vibrant chenin blanc predicated on fruit part stone and part citrus, followed by herbs and herbals of pleasant nature. Simple, effective and tidy.

Boschendal The Pavillion Chenin Blanc 2022, WO Western Cape
$13.50, Lifford Wine & Spirits (Select Wine Merchants)
Megha Jandhyala – The Pavilion is a clean, fresh, and juicy chenin blanc for under $15. With a focus on refreshing citrus fruit and a pleasingly fleshy palate, it is perfect for summer barbeques and patio get-togethers.
Michael Godel – One of the Western Cape’s mots recognizable chenin blancs of singing fruit, linearity, bones and textural fleshiness as a reminder that Boschendal can really do no wrong.

Spier Bay View Chardonnay 2022, WO Western Cape
$14.90, Sylvestre Wines & Spirits
Michael Godel – From one of South Africa’s most historic farm properties here with smart, sharp, fresh and clean chardonnay that breathes with the slightest kiss of oak.

Nederburg Sauvignon Blanc The Winemaster’s Reserve 2022, WO Western Cape
$15.95, PMA Canada
Michael Godel – There is a bit of sweetness here, well matched by sharp acidity, like juicy fruit gum and a squeeze of real lemon. Basic sauvignon blanc all in all that quenches quite readily.

The Wolftrap White Blend 2022, WO Western Cape
$16.00, Univins (Ontario)
Megha Jandhyala – This is a lively, invigorating white blend, vegetal, herbal, and zesty, with notes of citrus and tropical fruit. I like its expressive, unaffected nature and energetic, almost exuberant palate.
Michael Godel – A white blend in the appellate way only found in this kind of fresh and layered style specific to the Western Cape, of great consistency that always keeps us on our toes.

With Love From The Cape Chenin Blanc 2022, WO Western Cape
Michael Godel – With love from the Cape is a chenin blanc postcard sent to the world as an open invitation to taste and enjoy the finest white wine chameleon of them all. Fresh and clean, high acid and adjusted to suit many palates.

Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay 2021, WO Coastal Region
$18.95, Prevedello and Mathews (Ponte)
Michael Godel – Bright, marine airy and really breathable chardonnay vintage this 2021, natural sweetness of ripe fruit captured like Spring in a bottle.  Any oak used is not noted or noticed and balance runs from start to finish.

Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc 2021, WO Stellenbosch
$18.95, Noble Estates Wines & Spirits Inc.
David Lawrason – Vintage after vintage this is one of classiest and best value Cape chenin blancs on the market. Expect generous and complex with ripe yellow pear/quince, spice, yellow flowers and subtle honey. It is medium weight, fleshy yet dry and firm with excellent flavour intensity.
Megha Jandhyala – Ken Forrester’s old vine chenin blanc consistently represents excellent value. It is versatile, somehow both complex and layered, on the one hand, and broadly appealing and easy to enjoy, on the other. I love how fragrant it is, awash in flavours of perfectly ripe apples, yellow plums, and persimmons, and infused with the hypnotic scent of honeysuckle. Its glossy texture is captivating, as its finish.
Michael Godel – Energy abounds in a crisp, crunchy and jet propelled chenin blanc that defies everything there is to know and say about a $19 wine. Brilliant blending by Mr. Forrester and winemaker Shawn Mathys.
John Szabo – Another marvelous vintage for Forrester’s classic old vine chenin, always a screaming value and in 2021 particularly attractive. There’s excellent flavour intensity in the category, and terrific fruit purity, mostly yellow-fleshed orchard fruit, yellow grapefruit, custard apple and more with no detectable wood influence. Length and depth are excellent. Drink or hold this into the mid or even late-’20s.


Boschendal The Pavillion Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, WO Coastal Region
$14.50, Lifford Wine & Spirits (Select Wine Merchants)
David Lawrason – A lot going on for the money! This has a very lifted, intense and complex nose with considerable Cape tarry/mineral character atop shiraz pepper and cabernet currants and herbs. Quite spicy, smoky and almost meaty as well. It is medium-full bodied, quite dense, smooth and a touch hot and sweet. Excellent length and depth.
Michael Godel – It needs saying again – that only South Africa can push this kind of local savour faire sincerity at this cost.
Steve Thurlow – This is excellent value for a lively fruity full bodied red. The fragrant nose is brimming with raspberry and black cherry fruit with hints of lemon and nicely integrated spice. The juicy palate is nicely driven by acidity with just enough tannin for structure. Very good length. Drinking well now but will hold. Best 2022 to 2025. Great BBQ red when lightly chilled.

Fairview Goats Do Roam Red 2021, WO Western Cape
$15.95, Noble Estates Wines & Spirits Inc.
Michael Godel – Holding really well, not surprising actually and no clouds have rolled in, in fact the red sky at night means the morning will be all bright blues. Just so well made and widely appealing as a Cape red.
John Szabo – Fairview’s ever-reliable Goats do Roam red blend equals past successes and drinkability here in 2021, with its swarthy dark fruit and spice, soft texture and smooth finish. For $14, one can’t ask for much more. Chill lightly for maximum enjoyment.

The Wolftrap Syrah Mourvedre Viognier 2021, WO Western Cape
$16.00, Univins (Ontario)
David Lawrason – One the great values from Boekenhoutskoof, a leading-edge winery based in Franschhoek. This shows a very pretty, quite generous nose of well meshed ripe cherry, peppery spice, oak vanillin and some meatiness. It is medium-full bodied, a touch sweet, warm and generous. Tannins are soft.
Michael Godel – One of the Western Cape’s most recognizable red wine brands is The Wolftrap and in syrah it exemplifies the Swartland idiom at the most base, effective and understood style.
Steve Thurlow – This has consistently been one of the best value reds at LCBO for less than $15 for years and the 2021 does not disappoint. I love true exuberant fruity syrah nose. It is a deep ruby red blend of syrah, mourvedre and viognier with aromas of black and red cherry fruit with tar, mild oak spice and tobacco notes. There is a rustic tone which intrigues. The palate is well balanced with soft tannin giving nice firmness to the finish. Very good length. Try with roast meats or mature hard cheese.

Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2022, WO Swartland
$18.95, Univins (Ontario)
David Lawrason – This has long been a terrific syrah value at the LCBO, even at this rising price point. It is a fairly full bodied, dense and smooth and slightly sweet example loaded with syrah pepper, licorice, candied cherry, some meatiness and spice. Loads of flavour if nudging the sweet-metre.
Megha Jandhyala – If you are looking for an approachable, delicious, and well-priced syrah, Boekenhoutskloof’s Porcupine Ridge syrah is a solid and reliable choice. It is comfortingly warm and supple, with delicious flavours of dark fruit compôte and sweet spice.
Michael Godel – The latest syrah iteration under Marc Kent’s Porcupine Ridge label is a a brighter and fresher one, less meaty and ferric than in the past. Has finally arrived at a more appropriate price considering how much complexity is on offer.

Old Vines Chenin Blanc, Ken Forrester Vineyard

Good to go!


This feature was commissioned by Wines of South Africa. As a regular feature, WineAlign tastes wines submitted by a single winery, agent or region. Our writers independently, as always, taste, review and rate the wines — good, bad and indifferent, and those reviews are posted on WineAlign. We then independently recommend wines to appear in the article. Wineries, wine agents, or regions pay for this service. Ads for some wines may appear at the same time, but the decision on which wines to put forward in our report, and its content, is entirely up to WineAlign.