While South African wines are regarded as coming from their origins in New World, winemaking has been going on since the early 1600s. However, throughout the 20th century, there was no international recognition given to South African wine, and boycotts related to the apartheid of wine produced by the nation were not uncommon. However, with the post-apartheid boom in the 1990s, many new artisan winemakers produced some of the best bottles. Along with these increased plantings in grapes are red grape varieties that cover more than 40% of the vineyards of South Africa.

Stellar Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage and more are currently being made in the most important vineyards of Stellenbosch, Constantia and Paarl. In these regions and others in the Western part of South Africa, vibrant and lively New World fruits combine with Old World complexity. The Western Cape’s vast array of plants helps create unique wines with a typically earthy, sour character, particularly evident in Pinotage, a distinctive wine of the country and a key component of so-called Cape blend red wines.

Winemakers are exploring other black grapes, such as Grenache, Mourvedre and Cinsault; however, the most popular varieties comprise the bulk of the award-winning wines this year that came from IWSC. A record season for the South African reds. Twelve Gold Medals were handed out to winemakers. The top of the list is Vilafonte’s Series C 2014 – ‘a wine with true elegance and class’, according to IWSC judges. It was a Bordeaux blend consisting of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec, with a staggering score of 96 points.

Other best South African wines include Tesco Shiraz 2020, which judges praised for having the flavour of red and black cherries laced in white pepper with a hint of black olive’. Also, they liked Old Road Wine Company’s 12-mile Syrah 2018, which was praised for the ‘herbal, savoury flavours that emerge in the mouth.’

Pinotage was a hit this year, too, as the spicy Fairview Barrel Aged Pinotage 2020 and Kanu Wines Pinotage 2019 both won Silver Medals. Find these bottles and more amazing South African red wines, which were all tasted blindly by experts in our list of award-winning wines during this year’s IWSC.

How do we judge these WINES?

We follow a strictly-structured thorough wine-tasting process. That’s why every wine sample is poured into numbered glass bottles and then evaluated blindly by judges. In addition, judges at IWSC wine judge are specialists in their field and can work in all areas that make up the world of wines. To prove this, look up our complete listing of our judges.

How can we get these WINES?

Only the finest wines tasted get the Gold Award or Silver. To win, for instance, Gold, the wines must be able to score Between 95-100 points. At the same time, Silver wines vary between 90 and 94 points.