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From complex Cabernet Sauvignon and superb Syrah, from charming Chenin Blanc to vivid, expressive Sauvignon Blanc, the best of South African wines draw their flavors from the country’s various terroirs. Combine a moderate Mediterranean‑like climate and distinctive and varied topography with the oldest soils of any winegrowing region on the planet, and you have the conditions in which to create wines of such unique character and complexity. South African wines seemingly effortlessly bridge the gap between the elegance and restraint of the old world and fruit‑driven character of the new.

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2015 Buitenverwachting Beyond Sauvignon Blanc Constantia

Buitenverwachting (Afrikaans for something like "beyond expectation") is located on the east-facing slopes of the Constantiaberg, Western Cape. Most of the fruit for the wine hails from Buitenverwachting estate vineyards, which are planted to soils of decomposed granite. The vineyards are dry farmed; the vines range in age from 7 to 21 years. Breezes sweeping in from False Bay, a mere 7½ miles away, make it one of South Africa’s coolest winegrowing areas. Another small portion of the blend is sourced from other cool climate sites in the Durbanville, Walker Bay and Somerset West regions. The handpicked grapes are crushed and the juice left in contact with the skins for approximately 12 hours before pressing. A long, cool fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at 60° F over a period of around 21 days. The result is a shimmering white wine with vibrant Sauvignon Blanc aromas suggesting kiwi, gooseberry, lime flower and pulverized stone; at once crisp and tantalizing and ample on the tongue with vivid, mouthwateringly intense flavors that reverberate true to the promise of those first whiffs. And, at its modest price, it is well beyond expectation, indeed.

$11.25 the bottle  $114.75 the case

2015 Excelsior Chardonnay Robertson Valley

Excelsior’s vineyards in the Robertson Valley, Western Cape are characterized by limestone-rich calcareous clay soils, with a portion of the Chardonnay coming from broken shale, which lends a kind of stone fruit character. Cool afternoon breezes sweep through the valley in the summer, providing natural air conditioning in the vineyards on hot days. The 2013 vintage here was characterized by big variation between warm daytime and cold nighttime temperatures. The fruit reached full ripeness at slightly lower than normal sugar levels, resulting in a wine with lower alcohol and lovely fresh acidity. The grapes were hand harvested in the cool, early mornings, at moderate levels of ripeness, ¾ of the wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks to preserve fresh citrus flavors. The remaining ¼ was fermented and aged in French oak, lending a subtle toasty nuance. A small percentage of viognier was included to give the wine added richness and roundness on the tongue. Telltale Chardonnay aromas suggest crisp green apple, citrus, a fleeting minerality and a hint of toast (from just that touch of oak aging); supple, just ample on the tongue, with flavors fresh and lively and clean and springy and yummy that soon have you into that second glass. And, by all means, please do note the price. This is simply superb value!

$7.99 the bottle  $81.48 the case

2014 Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon South Africa

New vintage just arrived! Excelsior’s vineyards are characterized by well-drained calcareous clay / limestone-rich soils, which allows the vines to stress, resulting in small, concentrated berries. Fermented in stainless steel, just over ⅓ of the wine was aged in a combination of French and American oak for 18 months before bottling. Crimson red in color; lovely aromas suggestive of cassis and violet and fleshy ripe grape; medium-bodied with a nice polished palate feel, this one holds it shape on the tongue, at once both fresh and vibrant, toothsome and satisfying. And, by all means, note the price. This is simply superb value in Cabernet Sauvignon!

$7.99 the bottle  $81.48 the case

512 West Sixth Street Austin, Texas 78701-2806 USA
(an easy right turn between San Antonio and Nueces streets)