Over the past few months, I have noticed a number of South African wines making their way onto the retail shelves. Brands like Nederburg, Two Oceans and Golden Kaan have been around for a while. Relatively new are Cathedral Cellar and Goats do Roam. The main white wines from South Africa are Chenin Blanc (where it is also called Steen), Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The main red varietals are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux Blends (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc). Back in 1925 South Africa created their own varietal called Pinotage, which is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault. While there are some producers that make relatively good Pinotage, it has not yet been used to make any world-class wines of note. South Africa is largely considered to be the greenest wine region on Earth.
Last week I was introduced to four new wines from a producer known as Indaba. Coming from a wine-producing country that was initially known for its fortified wines and brandy, I was pleasantly surprised with these wines. They were very approachable and refreshing, each showing varietal typicity with the right amount of fruit forwardness.
"Indaba" is the Zulu word for "a meeting of the minds", or a traditional gathering of tribal leaders for sharing ideas. The brand was created as a celebration of the democratisation process in South Africa and embodies the notion of 'coming together'. The Indaba range is composed of Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot and Mosaic (a red blend representative of the best grapes coming together), all of which are bottled under user-friendly screwcap closures. The Chenin Blanc and the Mosaic are not yet available in Jamaica. Here are the producer's notes and my impression.
Indaba Sauvignon Blanc - Enticing melon, citrus and tropical fruit aromas lead to fresh, zesty flavours of passion fruit, lime, mango and green fig, supported by a spine of racy acidity. Herbal undertones shine through on the mineral-tinged finish. Quite possibly my favourite of this bunch, at first I felt it was very similar to the New Zealand style, upon further tasting I realised that Indaba strikes a great balance and has a style of its own.
Indaba Chardonnay - Bright tropical fruit aromas lead to a crisp, fresh palate with mouth-filling flavours of apple, pear, honey and pineapple. A gentle kiss of oak adds a creamy butterscotch nuance and wonderful depth. Indaba has managed to create a great value Chardonnay with "Goldilocks" oak - not too much, not too little, just right.
Indaba Merlot - Crafted in a fresh, clean style, this smooth Merlot offers lively, juicy flavours of cherry, plum and dark berry backed by subtle chocolate and herbal nuances and an elegant minerality. This will be a crowd-pleaser. The grapes used to make this wine were sourced from select vineyard sites in the cooler areas of Stellenbosch and
warmer regions of Perdeberg and Paarl. The Stellenbosch fruit contributes a soft, velvety character, while the Paarl component adds bold plum and black cherry flavours. The Perdeberg portion imparts red fruit flavors and the bright minerally profile typical of decomposed dolomite granite soils. A small amount (2%) of Malbec from Stellenbosch adds structure, richness and dark berry flavours.
Indaba Shiraz - This fresh, juicy Shiraz flaunts lively flavours of ripe blackberry, blueberry and dark chocolate, with hints of white pepper, licorice and spice. A very enjoyable wine with 96% Shiraz, 2% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot.
After my private tasting, I did some research on these wines and the industry trade has been very kind to them.
The wines consistently garner "Best Value" and "Best Buy" accolades from Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast.
When Robert Parker's Wine Advocate says "Indaba offers some truly mind-boggling values", one should take note.
Christopher Reckord - Businessman, Entrepreneur & Wine Enthusiast. Send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on twitter: @DeVineWines @Reckord