A WINEMAKER'S playground, South Africa has it all. And walking the line between the fruit-forward ripeness of New World wines and more restrained elegance of the Old World, the Cape Winelands are the beating heart of the South African wine industry.

With more than 19 scenic wine routes along the Western Cape, some less than an hour's drive from Cape Town, the diverse landscape, sea breezes and climate produces wines as varied as the spectacular terrain - coupled with a reputation for offering exceptional value and quality.

As Rollo Gabb, managing director of award-winning winery Journey's End and chairman of PIWOSA (Premium Independent Wineries of South Africa), puts it: "From a quality, value perspective, South Africa continues to do what it's been doing consistently for a very long time, certainly for the last 15 years, which is producing a broad spectrum of well-known and lesser-known varietals and producing them very well, with great fruit expression and elegance.

"Stylistically, how South Africa is positioning itself is nicely between what people call or might think of as classic New World - i.e. Australia, New Zealand and Chile - and Old World, being Europe, so the flavour profile and the fruit and elegance you're getting with South African wines really does sit neatly between the two worlds," adds Gabb.

As such, you have wonderful expressions of chardonnay, chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc, Bordeaux blends, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah. "And then bang for buck, in my view there's no-one really in the world that's coming close, so there's absolute value for money right across the spectrum, from your entry level £8 bottle in the supermarket, to a £25 bottle on shelf. They're really smashing it and working very, very hard to deliver," says Gabb.

Here's what caught our eye and charmed us, at £12 and under...

1. Mount Rozier Reserve The Red Snapper Cinsault 2020, Western Cape, South Africa, £6, Sainsbury's

A delicious discovery and part of the Journey's End family, this sun-kissed juicy red can be enjoyed slightly chilled on a warm summer's day, with its bright berry fruits and low tannins. Light and fresh, with lovely floral notes and cherry and strawberry fruit in a ripe but gentle New World style, we suggest bagging two - or you'll kick yourself!

Outside of producing some of the country's top-notch vino, Journey's End are community-focused and committed to sustainable farming practices, as well as environmental and ethical projects through the Journey's End Foundation to tackle hunger and poverty.

2. L'Avenir Estate Horizon Chenin Blanc 2020, Stellenbosch, South Africa (priced at £10 per bottle, but free as part of the 'Bottles of Kindness' initiative when you spend £75 or more from Wine&Something)

Wine&Something are 'spreading a little joy' with their Bottles of Kindness initiative - "to thank our customers who've remained so incredibly supportive over the past year, offering them the chance to carry out an act of kindness and send someone special a free bottle of wine," says Dale Agar, Wine&Something CEO.

"I'm particularly pleased our buyer, Robin Kick, MW (Master of Wine) has chosen a South African wine, L'Avenir Horizon Chenin Blanc 2020," adds Agar. "The wine industry in South Africa has suffered a great deal with their ban on domestic sales during their lockdown periods. South African wines continue to deliver incredible quality for their price and know people will love this crisp, fresh chenin blanc."

A shining example of the country's signature white grape, this bottle aligns ripe tropical fruit with hints of honeysuckle and no shortage of fresh acidity.

3. Tesco Finest South African Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Stellenbosch, South Africa, £7.50, Tesco

Very stylish, this own label wine shows plenty of character with gooseberry, citrus and limes leaping from the glass and crisp, refreshing finish. Super fresh and lots of fun.

4. AA Badenhorst The Curator White Blend, Swartland, South Africa, £8.99, Waitrose

Deftly blended, here we have chenin blanc, chardonnay and viognier to highlight how South Africa offers stellar deals and grapes to highlight the country's diversity. An A-list producer, Badenhorst's entry-level Curator line hints at greatness - and if you're very taken with the creamy ripe stone fruits in this vibrant white, check out their top tier Kalmoesfontein White Blend and second tier Secateurs.

5. Morgenhof Estate Merlot 2015, Stellenbosch, South Africa, £13.99, Waitrose

If you really want a foothold in one of South Africa's world-class wineries, this historic estate is up for auction - after all, who doesn't dream of having their own vineyard? This magnificent merlot hails from a fantastic vintage, a luxurious red that more than delivers with its fabulous aromas of blueberry, cherry and plums, which unfold onto a rich, suave, velvety smooth palate with a long, persistent finish. Indeed, the elegance, balance and ripeness that marked this vintage is in full swing six years on.

6. Journey's End Pastor's Blend 2019, Stellenbosch, South Africa, £11.90, Tanners Wines

A glorious parcel of fruit, this Bordeaux blend has a beautifully expressive, aromatic profile of elegant black fruit, with rich aromas of black cherry and blackcurrant following through on the soft, plush palate plus sweet spice and a touch of cedar, showing great balance, generosity and well-judged oak. Fruit forward yet refined, and utterly delicious from beginning to end.