South Africa is celebrating its 350th birthday as a wine-producing nation.
But it has been a serious international wine producer only since 1994, when apartheid ended.
The Cape on the southwestern tip surrounding the port city of Cape Town is the most significant growing region.
Pinotage, a cross between pinot noir and cinsault, produces the signature red.
Unique to South Africa, it makes an easy-drinking, somewhat rustic wine.
Cabernet sauvignon (actually the largest production) and shiraz show great promise.
As for whites, chardonnay is improving, and I enjoy the more assertive style of sauvignon blanc. But chenin blanc is the most interesting.
Guardian Peak is a 10-year collaboration of South African vintner Jean Engelbrecht and golf legend Ernie Els.
• 2005 Shiraz ($15)• 2005 Frontier (cabernet, shiraz, merlot, $15)
Fleur du Cap, from an estate owned by the Cape's governor around 1700.
• 2007 Chardonnay ($10)• 2007 Sauvignon Blanc ($10)
Golden Kaan, a 2003 joint venture between the largest producer cooperative and a German wine company, is known for its sustainability program.
• 2007 Chardonnay ($10)• 2006 Pinotage ($15)• 2007 Sauvignon Blanc ($15)
Sebeka, a 3-year-old brand imported by Gallo, is named in honor of a noted wildlife conservationist's pet cheetah.
• 2008 Chenin Blanc "Steen" ($10)• 2007 Pinotage "Cape Blend" ($10)• 2007 Pinotage Cabernet ($10)