South Africa is a wonderfully diverse country in terms of wine production. You’ll typically find New World fruit combined with a European minerality, but the wines have a certain gravitas rarely found in other areas.

This week, I met Samantha O’Keefe, a Californian farmer and winemaker living and working in South Africa. She bought a dairy farm in Greyton, miles away from any other wine producer, and thirty minutes away from the nearest shop. She carved out her business, planted her vines and has become a favourite of the wine critics in the interim. She took advice in the early days from Peter Finlayson, arguably one of the best South African producers. He said, “If you succeed in Greyton, you will be considered a pioneer. If you fail, no-one will care”.

She is now definitely a pioneer, even a trailblazer and her wines are nothing short of exceptional. Her wine influences are mostly based in the Rhone Valley in France, and you should actively seek out her Viognier and Syrah expressions.

She hosted a tasting for us on Tuesday night, and comparing the wines side by side was a joy and an education.

Here are a few of my favourites for you to try this weekend…

Lismore Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (Inverarity One to One, £21.99). Oaked Sauvignon can be clumsy and disappointing, as the primary characteristics of the grape are often overpowered by the wood influence. This is the best example of the style that I’ve ever come across in my 23 years in the trade.

Lismore Estate Reserve Viognier 2017 (Inverarity One to One, £38.99). This is clearly an expensive wine, but the equivalent quality from Condrieu in Rhone would cost twice as much. This is a spectacular wine, to be enjoyed on it’s own as an aperitif or with a really good Thai green curry.

Lismore Estate Reserve Syrah 2017 (Inverarity One to One, £40.99). This beautifully elegant wine is exactly what a Cote Rotie should taste like, but seldom does. If you only buy one £40 red this year, it should be this one. I would have this with a nice bit of venison. Cheers!