By Tim James -  May 17, 2019 


If one can have feelings for a grape variety, gamay noir is one of the more serious candidates for your sympathy. Burgundy snobs will know that it’s virtually disappeared from the grander vineyards of the Côte d’Or, where it once thrived – and that it was officially banned in 1395 by Duke Philip the Bold, who called it “a very bad and disloyal variety”. A variety, moreover, his edict declared, “very harmful to human beings”. Enough human beings survived it, however, and apparently even enjoyed it sufficiently to make it necessary for later dukes and the like to repeat the injunction. So the favoured pinot noir (one of the parents of gamay) didn’t have the field, or vineyard, clear for itself even in the Côte d’or – although the great home for gamay has been in southernmost part of greater Burgundy, in Beaujolais.

The reputation of beaujolais has had its ups and downs – somewhat on the up at present, thanks both to a revival of interest in lighter reds and a greater concentration in the area on more serious styles than the frivolous, light and fruity beaujolais nouveau, with which the grape became dangerously associated. In the Cape, gamay has had a fitful presence over the years since, I think, it was brought in by Perold. I’ve no idea which was the first label – perhaps it was that of the Verdun estate (now Asara); certainly that was the best-known, and even the only varietally named version in much of the last decades of the 20th century. It’s there in the maiden Platter guide of 1980, while the 2000 edition also lists versions from Ashanti, Backsberg and Fairview. (As an aside, those producers who don’t offer their wines to Platter are doing a signal disservice to future winelovers and researchers trying to find out details about modern Cape wine history).

Currently, Platter lists only one producer of gamay: Stellenbosch-based and -centred Radford Dale. And it’s thanks to Radford Dale (and especially its presiding genius, Alex Dale, a great admirer of Beaujolais) that the Cape’s plantings of gamay have crept up again, following a major decline – to a magnificent total of 7.73 hectares at the end of 2018, all in Stellenbosch. That’s still over 10 hectares less than there were a decade back, and below the approximately 11 hectares reported by Orffer in his 1979 book. And no-one here even banned it or denounced it as a “disloyal grape”, as far as I know! It has just languished from lack of interest.

This week I visited, with winemaker Jacques de Klerk, the little gamay vineyard that’s made that latest upward difference. It’s on a splendid grape farm on the rolling Bottelary Hills, called Karibib, that provides grapes to some very classy names even apart from chenin to Redford Dale (Van Loggerenberg, Alheit, Craven, The Blacksmith, for instance). The new gamay planting (which should be completed this year, when material becomes available, and reach nearly a hectare in total), is a joint project between Radford Dale and the highly regarded farmer, Jozua Joubert – a former Warwick winemaker, who also now makes a few wines of his own off his Karibib, under the Solitary label, which unfortunately I don’t know (but intend to remedy that).

There are two Radford Dale gamays. The hipster, geeky winebar version is under the Thirst label (where, incidentally, the delightful skin-contact Clairette Blanche is well worth seeking out) and left me rather cold. Entirely wholebunch-fermented, made in traditional Beaujolais carbonic maceration style (reliant on an initial, intracellular fermentation that occurs within the berry itself); fresh, undoubtedly, and light at 10.5% alcohol, with a nice bit of fruity perfume – but I found the 2018 rather insipid and lacking vinosity and deliciousness. All this minimalism at over R150.

The more serious, generous version is called The Antidote, the current version being the maiden 2017, but I also sampled the 2018. It is also made by carbonic maceration, but with fewer stems included. Here, now, is something characterful, something a bit different in the spectrum of lighter Cape reds (12.5% alcohol). Its name offers it as a remedy to “high alcohols, big tannins, lots of oak, your car breaking down, a bad interview, a shit day at work, the dark powers against you… – everything we playfully call poison”. I can accept that. Winemaker Jacques suggested that it in some way “straddles pinot and syrah”, and that seemed to me an acute characterisation, in terms of appearance, flavour and structure – the richer 2018 especially bringing out a spicy, peppery note, as well as an element of earthiness, both vintages having modest but informing tannins, a fresh acidity, and a rounded and textured whole. A rather elegant wine, and recommendable – even at around R400, if you can afford to splash out on something new and different. Gamay … why not? You needn’t even feel disloyal to pinot noir.


Tim James is one of South Africa’s leading wine commentators, contributing to various local and international wine publications. He is a taster (and associate editor) for Platter’s. His book Wines of South Africa – Tradition and Revolution appeared in 2013.

Article published on, 17th May 2019

Click here to read the original article. 



Here's a roundup of our recent reviews and news from around the world.
Radford Dale Terroir Range Press Pages
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March 2019
Tim Atkin Lismore Tasting Results - 23 March 2019
Alex, took part in the fifth Lismore tasting held in Greyton by Tim Atkin and Lismore Wine Estate. Designed to pit the best wines of South Africa against their peers from the rest of the world this time it was Chardonnay. 35 wines were tasted in total, 13 of which were from outside the Cape. 

Our Radford Dale Chardonnay 2017 came in 1st of the South African wines and 4th overall, in the group tasting! Interestingly, 4 of the 5 top SA Chardonnays were from Stellenbosch.


1. 2017 Errázuriz Las Pizarras, Aconcagua Costa (Chile)

2. 2017 Black Book Clayhill Vineyard, Essex (England)

3. 2014 Domaine Marc Morey Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru Les Referts (Burgundy)

4. 2017 Radford Dale Chardonnay, Stellenbosch (South Africa)

5. 2017 Kershaw Clonal Selection, Elgin (South Africa)

6. 2017 Circumstance, Stellenbosch (South Africa)

7. 2016 Leeu Passant, Stellenbosch (South Africa)

8. 2015 Domaine Hubert Lamy St Aubin Premier Cru Les Frionnes (France)

9. 2017 Meerlust, Stellenbosch (South Africa)

10. 2015 Leeuwin Art Series, Margaret River (Australia)

For more information, please visit: - Tim Atkin Lismore Tasting Article - WineMag Article 


Platter's 2020 South African Wine Guide

Another great year - 12 of the Best

12 of our Radford Dale wines were awarded 4.5 stars and 8 received 4 stars in the latest guide, we are thrilled with the results!
This 40th edition's independent ratings and reviews are the result of a best-of-both worlds system of sighted and blind tastings. 

Please click here to see the full list of the wines and vintages and Platter notes. 

Platter's 2019 South African Wine Guide

12 of the Best - Consistently Outstanding 

We are thrilled to announce our Platter 2019 results. 

An unprecedented 12 RADFORD DALE wines were awarded 4.5 stars in the latest guide, released last week. 

This, the 39th edition, features over 8,000 wines from 900 producers. The guide's independent ratings and reviews are the result of a best-of-both worlds system of sighted and blind tastings. Please see below for the full list of the wines and vintages with fully transcribed Platter notes. 

In addition to the 4.5 star scores above, 8 of our Radford Dale wines have been awarded 4 stars while our Radford Dale Black Rock retains its 5 star rating, which demonstrates our consistently superb ratings in the Platter guide. 

This all follows the recent high scores received from Tim Atkin for which we are delighted to have obtained especially as we celebrate 20 years of Radford Dale. 
We are very proud of our range and to receive  such acknowledgement of all the hard work the team puts in year after year is extremely rewarding.

November 2018

Radford Dale Chardonnay 2017

Winemaker as chaperone rather than surgeon allows natural processes to yield balanced 2017. Fresh peachy fruit in firm but pliable support with remarkably low alcohol (11.5%). There's added allure of vanilla-spiced creaminess from 10 months in French oak. 15% new.  

94 /100

November 2018

Radford Dale The Renaissance of Chenin Blanc 2017

From dryland Helderberg bush vines, partial bunch-pressing, wild yeast ferment in older oak, bone-dry, modest 12.5% alcohol. Sensual 2017 has honeysuckle aromas & a velvety structure supporting fresh citrus and waxy lanolin. Exceptional refreshment.  

91 /100

November 2018

Radford Dale Syrah 2015

Singular Stellenbosch rendition, more muscular, less fragrant than Nudity. 2015's scrub, fynbos and earthy profile heralds savoury intensity with beautiful balance in a long tail. POrtion bunch fermented, some post-ferment maceration. 20% new oak, 18 months. 

93 /100

November 2018

Radford Dale Black Rock 2015

Maintains fine form. Gorgeous fynbos perfume, brambly berries & spice from 40% Syrah, 25% Cinsualt, Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre, co-fermented/aged in oak, 16 months, 20% new. Naturally fermented Swartland fruit, like 2014, Platter 2017 Red Wine of The Year. 

95 /100

November 2018

Radford Dale Nudity Syrah No 16

"Natural Wine" (no additives, not even sulphur), from organic Voor-Paardeberg site. Intensely aromatic 2016, vibrant pepper tones, wild berries, hints of fynbos and smoked meat, a chalky minerality. Like 2015, great complexity considering older oak imparts no spice. 

93 /100

November 2018

Radford Dale Frankenstein Pinotage 2016

Handled like a Pinot Noir, 50% bunch ferment, 10 months older oak), vibrant 2016 packed with bright, juicy red berry fruit; at 12.75% alcohol, no monster, actually rather poised and elegant; perfumed and fresh. 

93 /100

November 2018

Radford Dale AD Pinot Noir 2017

Curated under the hand of co-founder Alex Dale, the most fragrant, perhaps most delicate of the house's Pinots. Elgin fruit de-stemmed & whole berry fermented. 2017 is no lightweight given its black cherry intensity and serious structure, with grippy tannins. Bone-dry, naturally low, 10.5% alcohol.

94 /100

November 2018

Radford Dale Freedom Pinot Noir 2017

Best of the top 3 Elgins, all 10 months in oak, this 10% new, the rest only old barrels. Poised 2017's floral/violet bouquet leads to tangy black fruit, fresh acidity & fine grained tannins, some smoked meat nuances, too. All the components harmonious.  

93 /100

November 2018

Radford Dale Gravity 2010

Forceful, forward 2010 from Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot offering spice, & bright red & black berries on a firmly structured base. Successfully balances the claims of fresh fruitiness & savoury depths to give some early complexity supported by good oaking. Will benefit from cellaring. 

92 /100

November 2018

Radford Dale Edouard Labeye Pinot Noir 2017

Like Freedom sibling, de-stemmed Elgin grapes are not crushed to allow a semi-carbonic maceration. Reflecting the persona of the cellarmaster, 2017 is brawniest of the Pinots with earthy wild strawberry and morello cherry fruit, enticing fynbos perfume and savoury truffle hints. 

93 /100

November 2018

Radford Dale Pearce Predhomme Chenin Blanc 2017

Made from 5 parcels in collaboration with "like-minded" Canadian sommeliers , elegant old vine, wild ferment 2017 more vinous than fruit but balanced. Peachy 2016 offered tangerine and melon fruit cut by very bright acidity. Touch of new oak, trademark moderate alcohol. 

91 /100

November 2018

Radford Dale Pearce Predhomme Cinsault Syrah 2017

Cinsault Syrah duo for export customer. Pot-Pourri on nose of "whole-cluster, wild-ferment" 2017. Fabulously expressive of red berry fruit from 65/35 blend. Lighter 2016 Syrah Cinsault (55/45 blend) had tangy sweet against on backdrop. Lovely 12.5% alcohol. 

91 /100

November 2018

What did Tim Atkin MW say about Radford Dale?

"I am extremely impressed with the quality of what I tasted in 2020, especially from 2019 vintage...Against formidable odds, South Africa is making some of the greatest wines in its history"

Tim Atkin.


Radford Dale Renaissance Chenin Blanc 2019

Alex Dale refers to Chenin Blanc as "South Africa's noblest grape" and it's hard to disagree
when you taste a wine like this. Elegant and subtly wooded, this is all about balance and
freshness, with fennel and lemongrass aromas, lemon and green apple flavours and the
concentration and extract to age.


Radford Dale The Revelation Chenin Blanc 2019

Low in alcohol and deliberately made in a style that reflects its cooler Walker Bay source, this
is a fresh, sappy, very lightly wooded Chenin Blanc with commendable precision, brightness
and lift. Aniseed, citrus and wet stone flavours marry well on the palate.

Radford Dale Chardonnay 2019

Burgundy nut Alex Dale has shifted the style of his Stellenbosch Chardonnay in recent years
from Meursault to Chablis, as it were. Low in alcohol, with pear, lemon and subtle cinnamon
spice, this is long, refreshing and a pleasure to drink. The opposite of a one-glass wine.

Radford Dale Freedom Pinot Noir 2019

Reflecting Alex Dale's love of red Burgundy, this is a light, elegant, focused Elgin Pinot that
wouldn't look out of place in Chorey-lès-Beaune. Graceful and refreshing, with redcurrant
and watermelon flavours and fine-grained tannins supported by older oak.


Radford Dale Vinum Chenin Blanc 2019

Offering superb value for money at just R160, this is like a scaled-down rendition of Alex
Dale's top wines. Taut and refreshing with wild yeast aromas and texture, a hint of oak spice
and a core of crisp, tangy citrus and green apple fruit.


Radford Dale Vinum Pinotage 2019

The aim here is to reveal "the hidden side of Pinotage", using natural fermentation and
carbonic maceration. It's certainly a wonderfully drinkable red: supple and juicy with
impressive colour and concentration and raspberry and black cherry fruit.

Radford Dale Grenache 2019

Sourced from Alex Dale's home vineyards, close to the Helderberg and cooled by the breezes
from False Bay, this is a Grenache for Pinot Noir lovers, with some whole berry carbonic
maceration. Medium weight, lightly wooded and spicy, with notes of thyme and fennel, tangy
acidity and raspberry and bramble fruit flavours.


Land of Hope Reserve Pinot Noir 2019

Part of an educational project of "social upliftment", this tasty Pinot Noir is serious stuff.
Made with clones 115 and 777, it's a focused, well-structured red with wild strawberry and
tomato skin flavours and a spicy, slightly volatile lift.

Radford Dale The Antidote Gamay Noir 2019

Made in the style of a Beaujolais Cru rather than a Beaujolais Nouveau, this is a pretty
serious Gamay from Alex Dale and his team. Savoury, grippy and showing some reduction,
with bramble and raspberry fruit and a dusting of oak spice.

Radford Dale Thirst Gamay Noir 2019

One of those wines that I often order by the glass in South African restaurants, this is a
classic combination of Gamay on granite soils. Zesty, crunchy and refreshing, it has thirst quenching acidity, pale colour and bright cherry and raspberry flavours.

Tim Atkin released his South Africa Report 2018 at Cape Wine last week and we are delighted to announce the reviews he gave our wines. 

  • Each Radford Dale wine he tasted, he scored between 96 – 90 points

which means all our wines have been bestowed an Award of Excellence.

  • The 3 Regions in which we specialise: Stellenbosch, Elgin & The Swartland, 

each featured among these endorsements, reflecting our consistent quality across the various

terroirs and Appellations.

  • 5 single varietal wines and one blend featured, also reflecting our consistent quality

across different styles and varieties.

  • Renaissance Chenin Blanc, with 96 Points, was named as one of his WINES OF THE YEAR.

96 points

Radford Dale The Renaissance of Chenin Blanc 2017

Stellenbosch, 12.5%

The Renaissance hails from a single vineyard on the Helderberg that also supplies the core of the Vinum Chenin. Made with a Burgundian sensibility by Jacques de Klerk, it’s layered and complex, with refined oak, amazing concentration and palate length and a creamy, savoury finish. 2019-29

94 points

Radford Dale Chardonnay 2017

Stellenbosch, 11.5%

With his background in Burgundy, Alex Dale has always had a sure touch with Chardonnay. This fresh, light-bodied style, all from the Polkadraai Hills, is light, nuanced and focused, showing notes of struck match and lemon butter and impressive palate length. 2019-25

93 points

Radford Dale Vinum Chenin Blanc 2017

Stellenbosch, 12.5%

The core of this wine is a 48-year-old vineyard on the Helderberg. It’s all about fruit, with only 30% of wooded material, subtle skin contact for some grip, bracing acidity and flavours of pear, wet stones and spicy, palate-coating concentration. 2019-25

93 points

Radford Dale The Antidote Gamay Noir

Stellenbosch, 12.5%

Inspired by the Cru wines of the northern Beaujolais, this is a new release for Radford Dale,
made with carbonic maceration. Lightly wooded, it’s a very ambitious Gamay, with pepper
spice, bramble and raspberry fruit and crunchy, lip-smacking acidity. 2019-25

93 points

Radford Dale Freedom Pinot Noir 2017

Elgin, 13.5%

“We’ve taken a long time to refine the style,” says Jacques de Klerk of this unfined, unfiltered, whole berry fermented Pinot. There’s a bit of what he calls “grunt” here, as well as subtle reduction, but the underlying fruit is pure, sweet and wonderfully juicy. 2019-24


92 points

Radford Dale AD Pinot Noir 2016

Elgin, 13%

AD is made with the 115 and 777 clones and is all about perfume and approachability, with no whole bunches or new wood, just refined fruit from Elgin Orchards. Pretty and very enticing, it’s a Pinot Noir for lovers of Chambolle-Musigny. 2019-24

91 points

Radford Dale Syrah 2015

Stellenbosch, 13.5%

Laterite soils in Firgrove supply the fruit for this grippy, savoury Syrah. There’s a feral note to this wine, as well as 15% whole bunch spice. Firm and serious, even at lower alcohol levels, it needs time in bottle to soften. 2019-25

90 Points

Radford Dale Black Rock 2015

Swartland, 13.5%

Grown on granite soils in the Swartland, Black Rock is an everything-but-the-kitchen-sinkRhône blend of Syrah, Cinsault, Grenache, Carignan, Mourvèdre and Viognier. It’s a tight, rather tannic wine at the moment with a funky undertone and good concentration. 2020-25

You can download the report in full from Tim's website for R395 or £20.

Freshly Pressed 2018
PRESS 2018.jpg
We've had the good fortune to meet the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (and two Ladies) ofRadford Dale this week - we suggest you read the story to get the reference here:, there's a special case right here: And their individual wines available here: With their Black Rock 2014 wine identified as Platter's Best Red Wine of 2017, we have a feeling you can't go wrong.


— Products shown: Radford Dale - Vinum Chenin Blanc (2017)Radford Dale - Nudity Syrah (2015),Radford Dale - Thirst Gamay (2017)Radford Dale - Syrah (2014)Radford Dale - Thirst Clairette (2017),Radford Dale - Thirst Cinsault (2017)Radford Dale - Black Rock (2015)Radford Dale - Freedom Pinot Noir (2016)Radford Dale - Chardonnay (2016) andRadford Dale - Chardonnay (2013)

Super cool write up from Oddbins of our Thirst Gamay Noir:

Not For Sale to Persons Under the Age of 18. Drink Responsibly.

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