- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Porcupine Ridge, Sauvignon Blanc, Coastal Region of South Africa, 2004, $9

The first South African wines were made by Dutch colonists who planted European grapevines on the southwestern tip of the continent — the region known today as the Cape.

Geography and politics, however, long combined to isolate South African vintners. Until recently, few benefited from the technological innovations that revolutionized international winemaking in the second half of the 20th century.

All that changed with the end of apartheid as new money and new energy immediately began to revitalize the wine industry. A country that was a backwater in the world of wine now has become an innovative leader. In South Africa these days, history moves fast.

For wine drinkers here in America, more and more exciting South African wines are showing up in wine shops. Some sport familiar labels; others are new.

Some of the best South African wines are made with sauvignon blanc, a grape variety that seems ideally suited to the Cape’s cool, maritime climate. Porcupine Ridge’s rendition provides a good introduction. Crisp, cool and vibrantly citrus-scented, this is a wine that seems, above all, refreshing, so it’s a great warm-weather choice.

This is a delicious wine to sip on its own before dinner or to pair with light seafood or vegetarian dishes. Although not as multifaceted as the best South African sauvignons, it is extremely reasonably priced, so it’s also a good wine to serve when entertaining a crowd. (Imported by Vineyard Brands.)

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