30 Second Wine Advisor: Wine Focus - South Africa

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Wine Focus - South Africa

Only eight of the world's nations produce more wine than South Africa, but market statistics reveal that the African country's own citizens don't drink much wine.

What's more, although South Africa sends a flood of its wines to The Netherlands and Great Britain, North America isn't doing much to ease this glut: Only 1 percent of wine sales in the United States involve South African wines.

But with the arrival of President Barack Obama in the White House, the popularity of South African wine in the U.S. just might start to change.

"The Obamas had a dinner reservation for the night Democrats announced their presidential candidate, and the restaurant was looking for a wine that popped but also made a statement," Associated Press writer Michelle Paul reported this week from Johannesburg in South Africa.

"That night in the private dining room at Chicago's Blackbird restaurant, Eduard Seitan served them a bottle of Graham Beck Brut - the same sparkling wine sipped by Nelson Mandela at his inauguration as South Africa's first black president.

"(Obama) liked it so much that when they had the election, they called me and asked if they could order six more for their Election Night party," Seitan told The Associated Press.

Just as George H.W. Bush's professed hatred of broccoli may have given thousands of his supporters a political reason to shun the green vegetable, it's a reasonable guess that Obama's affection for South African wines could give them a boost ... even if he later chooses to "Buy American" in the White House.

We've been featuring the varied wines of South Africa throughout May in the Wine Focus section of our WineLovers Discussion Groups. Next week we'll switch to a new topic for June, but there's still time to join in with a South African tasting report, comment or question.

You'll find Wine Focus among the WineLovers Discussion Groups at this link:
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You'll find my tasting reports on two interesting, affordable South African wines, a red and a white, just below.

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Today's Tasting Reports

Leatherwood 2006 Western Cape South Africa Shiraz (95%) - Viognier (5%) ($14.99)Leatherwood
Dark ruby with a clear edge. Bright dark fruit, plums and blackberries with hints of menthol and oak; flavors consistent, warm and tannic, plenty of body and presence at 14.5% alcohol, but for all that it's a relatively balanced Southern Hemisphere Shiraz, elegant in compaison with the big-boy style of South Australia. Fine with a natural pastured-pork chop, pan-braised with onions and garlic. U.S. importer: Vineyard Varieties Inc., Bluefield, Va. (May 26, 2009)

Here's a link to the U.S. importer's Website:

Wine-Searcher.com yields no hits for Leatherwood or its parent producer, De Wet's Prospect Farm. To track down local distributors, see the "Distribution" page on the Prospect Wines Website:

Ken Forrester 2008 "Petit" Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc ($9.99)Petit
Clear light gold. Honeydew melon and a hint of almond on the nose and palate. Ripe melon fruit and tart, singing acidity, with a touch of peach-pit bitterness in the finish. Young and fresh, not overly complex, but fruit and food-friendly acidity make it very good at the table and a fine value for a buck under $10. A surprisingly good match with the mildly spicy flavors of lengua (shredded beef tongue) tacos, Mexican-style.U.S. importer: Boutique Wine Collection, Philadelphia. (May 12, 2009)

Read about Ken Forrester Vineyards and click to fact sheets about "Petit" and other KF wines on the U.S. importer's Website:

Find vendors and compare prices for Ken Forrester "Petit" Chenin Blanc on Wine-Searcher.com:

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