Malcolm Jolley gets to the bottom of a new promotion at the LCBO…

South African wines are the focus of a new promotion running this month at the LCBO. At any given store, there ought to be a table display set-up with up to a dozen wines from the Western Cape, all of which have some kind of special incentive attached: either a few dollars off the regular price or bonus Air Miles. The theme of the promotion, however, is not based on the wines of South Africa’s reputation for high quality to price ratios. ‘Sustainable South Africa‘ is instead focused on the South African wine industry’s commitment to environmental best practices, including the 22 year old Integrated Production of Wine scheme and the ten year anniversary of the industry’s wine seal certification program, which is now found on over 90% of South African wine bottles.

I’ve used the promotion to reacquaint myself with some South African favourites, like the Boschendal Chardonnay I wrote about last week, or a wine I hadn’t tasted for years, Fairview’s $12 Goats Do Roam. I tend to overlook these wines, all of which are well under $20, when I’m shopping because they are mostly shelved in the ‘General List’ section of my local store, and I tend to gravitate to what’s new in Vintages. Another wine that I hadn’t tried for ages, but remember really enjoying when I was in the Cape, was the Spier Cabernet Sauvignon from Stellenbosch, which is $13 for a bottle of the 2018. I likely overlooked it out of price snobbery, but I rediscovered it’s a well made, fun wine, with good lively dark red to black fruit and an unmistakably South African note of smoke and leather.

What’s also fun about this wine, and the others on the table, is that you can look-up their sustainability bona fides by entering a code printed on the certification seal on every bottle at a special website maintained by the Wines of South Africa and the South African Wine and Spirit Board. Just don’t spill any on your keyboard.