Erica Landin

Location: Stockholm, AB

While working as a Biotech equities analyst, a divine Burgundy stopped me in my tracks and made me re-evaluate life. Today, I'm a full time wine writer. Passionate about small, quality producers, minimal intervention winemaking & sustainability in wine.

The New South Africa

Sorry for the radio silence, I have been busy uncovering a hidden gem from within my prejudices. South Africa, maybe too well known for over-ripe, "created" bulk wines, proved to be so much more. A trip around the western cape was not only breathtakingly beautiful, it also gave me the chance to discover the newest wave of winemaking in this part of the world. Sure, a decent number of well established properties have already showed that they can make French-styled premium wines. But now come the young guns, showing us a new South African style with lots of personality and optimal drinkability. The whites were some of the most interesting wines I tried, and especially the ones based on the grape chenin blanc. A few cool-climate chardonnays combined the richness of sunny weather with the acidity and backbone of cool nights. Quite pleasant! Here are a few picks which I sincerely hope you can get a hold of. They opened my eyes!

Rank Wine Rating Price
1 Lammershoek Barrique Chenin Blanc (2010)
Comments: The first time I tasted this I said "wow". The second time I tasted this, I offered to work for the winemaker (he didn't take me, by the way). Such an interesting, rich chenin blanc with many layers of creamy complexity and minerality on top of a good acidity from what should be a terribly hot climate. A fun wine to play with for food pairings or just to drink on its own, well chilled to start. Though a few of his wines are a bit funky, most of what Craig does is absolutely gorgeous. I think this is a future star and trend-setter in South African wine. Watch him!
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2 Mullineux White Blend (2011)
Comments: Mullineux, the garagiste winery by young couple Chris and Andréa Mullineux, are making record speed at winning wine writers' hearts. Their wines, over the board, are excellent. No need (in my mind) to hit their prestige bottlings of Syrah - their "regular" shiraz is anything but regular. Same for their sweet straw wine, and for this white blend. Dominated by old-vine chenin blanc from the Swartland area of South Africa, it is a wine with both ample fruit and ample toasted nuttiness. The 2011 made me think of fresh pancakes with cloudberry jam. A must-try. Yum, yum, yum.
Average price: $23.69 from 1 store
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3 Ataraxia Chardonnay (2009)
Comments: Much lauded chardonnay from the cool climate Hemel en Aarde (did I spell it right? It means heaven and earth if I understand Afrikaans by now) in the eastern parts of the South African Cape winelands. Nice freshness and structure while still providing bright fruit and creamy texture.
Previously available for $39.99
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4 Cartology (2010)
Comments: One of the most mentioned white blends at the Cape Wine 2012 fair where journalists from around the world got together with South African producers, importers and random groupies (just kidding, it was all highly professional). A rich, slightly waxy chenin blanc with lots of minerality and a honeysuckle, white peach nose. Interesting wine with huge potential!
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5 Aa Badenhorst Secateur Chenin Blanc (2010)
Comments: Adi Badenhorst, the winemaker, is a bit nuts and he plays it up. A founding member of the Swartland Independent Revolution, he is easily recognized at any formal South African wine event for his wild beard and bright eyes. He says the wine makes itself because he is lazy - I'd like to call Bull**** on that one. He knows exactly what he is doing and his wines are clean, bright and with personality. The old vines he must have gotten a hold of for this Chenin Blanc give depth, richness and complexity to the wine. Highly drinkable at a good price. Hands-off winemaking.
Previously available for $14.99
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6 Avondale Mcc Brut (NV)
Comments: One of the best sparkling wines from South Africa in my view. Nice sharp acidity, pleasant little bubbles, a touch of fruity, heady fragrance and lees (yeasty, toasted nutty notes). Better than most non-champagne sparkling wines out there (including anything I personally have tried from Cali). Farmed with a personal mix of organics and biodynamics, Avondale is definitely sustainable. They get rid of snails, for example, by using ducks who are specially trained and taken to the vineyard in a "duckmobile". Cute!
Previously available for $99.19
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7 Fable Vineyard Jackal Bird (2010)
Previously available for $27.99
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8 Lammershoek White Blend Swartland Roulette Blanc (2010)
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9 Stellenrust 45 Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc (2009)
Previously available for $15.65
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10 Oak Valley Elgin Chardonnay (2010)
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  • 92549Eric Guido Very nice, I enjoyed this quite a bit. Will there be a red wine version? I recently had a run in with a number of good South African wines, so I'm very interested to hear more.

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