Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Pinterest South Africa is definitely not on everyone’s radar when it comes to fine wine because of its very niche and exclusive production and exportation channels that only distribute in few foreign places. Luckily for us, some of South Africa’s best wines are already here in the Philippines. South African wine supplier Diverse Flavours recently held a private gathering for spirit aficionados and media hosted by its local partner, Planet Grapes, in Edsa Shangri-La Plaza. The intimate event started with a crash course on South African geography and culture and was followed by a tasting event with exquisite pairings especially prepared by their resident chef. South African wine’s heritage can be traced back to the Dutch colony in Cape Town in the 17th century, when the first vineyard was set up with the purpose of stocking up wines during the long voyage from Europe to Asia and back. Established in 1659, South Africa’s first winery was erected in Constantia and later on became one of Europe’s most fortified suppliers of wines. Anthony and Michiko Budd founded Diverse Flavours to open doors for winemakers in South Africa. Anthony and Michiko say that the South African wine business hasn’t quite matured yet and has a long way to go in terms of getting global recognition. Hence the company has been active in doing wine tasting events to introduce people to their wines. “South Africa is quite special as it is considered both ‘Old’ and ‘New World’ wine. Its wine production is relatively younger compared to its European counterparts, but the aging process and the secret techniques that were passed down can be traced back to some of the oldest regions in Europe. Thus, South African wines are of exceptional quality when it comes to taste and smell,” says Anthony. Cape Town Wine production in South Africa is limited only to about 500 wine estates. But this small-scale, isolated wine industry has produced four remarkable red wines that we think can compete with some of the best wines out there: Ghost Corner Pinot Noir 2016 A beautifully crafted Pinot Noir with prominent flavors of red fruits like cherries and raspberries with an undertone of earthy, mushroom nuances and a clear hint of oak. That’s how we would describe this premium wine, which is aged between three and five years. Though it can be enjoyed on its own, this wine goes perfectly well with mushroom soup or crispy duck and chicken dishes. During the event, Ghost Corner was paired with potato chips fried in truffle oil. Cederberg Merlot Shiraz 2015 Cederberg (69 percent merlot and 31 percent shiraz) has a pleasant taste that will surely please those with a picky palate. The taste and smell conjures sweet plums and blackcurrants from the merlot and cherries and spice from the shiraz. Because of its smoothness, this red blend is a must with every braai, but also suited to any meat dishes like steak. We paired this wine with grilled beef salpicao. Lion Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2015 This was definitely our favorite. This label has a rich brand history, inspired by the Lion Creek, flowing past Napier Vineyards, that connects two important production sites: Napier and Ranzadale. It is said that lions used to come to the creek to drink in the hot, dry conditions of the South African summer. At present, this small creek dries during summer, leaving a riverbed of gravel, as shown on the bottle’s packaging design. You can clearly distinguish the cherries, plum, and cedar with a touch of white pepper; carefully creating a balance of spice and fruity aftertaste on the palate. This wine is a good choice for all meat and pasta dishes. This wine was paired with Planet Grape’s signature pulled beef (shank) caldereta crostini. 88 Vineyards Merlot (Medium-sweet) This fruit-forward sweet wine is bursting with ripe flavors of juicy plums and cherries with hints of spice. It also has a lengthy finish and smooth tannins, which makes it easy to drink and pair with seared salmon, Chinese-style crispy duck pancakes, roast duck, braised short ribs, chicken, pork or rabbit casseroles with fruity elements, roast leg of lambs and many more—such wide selection of flavor profiles for this amazing wine. This was paired with classic street food: grilled chorizo de Cebu.