Stellenbosch Vineyards: South Africa Comes Out to Play

South Africa is one of those wine regions that a lot of people have heard about, but few people–too few, anyway—have taken the time to discover and explore its wines.  I’m a little bit in that category; I’ve tasted some of its stuff from time to time, particularly Chenin Blanc, which they sometimes call “Steen” locally, and of course Pinotage, a cross of Cinsault and Pinot Noir that was literally invented in South Africa in 1925.  But I've never really spent much time thinking about South Africa except at an occasional tasting.  And for a lot of people, SA is really just off their wine map, and that's unfortunate. Wine has been produced in South Africa probably since the mid-1600s,…

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House Wine Habit?

I thought for a long time that Natalie McLean is a damn good writer and knew her way around a bottle and a vineyard or two. Last year some information came along to challenge that. But I had already disagreed with her when when she said (on her website) that every wine lover should have a "house wine." In my experience, that's precisely what people who are new to wine get wrong, and what often keeps them from learning about new wine places, varietals and styles. Is there anything wrong with enjoying a particular wine, and keeping several bottles of it on hand for guests and gatherings? No. But I can't tell you how many times I've visited friends and…

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