South Africans might prefer to think of their wine industry as a relative newcomer to the global stage but it is actually 347 years old and saddled with a history of cheap chenin blanc and patchy pinotage.
So it's surprising to taste South African wines which can foot it with some of the best reds from southern France, Australia and New Zealand.
After tasting 32 modern South African wines in Auckland last month it was evident that country's wine industry has had as much of a makeover as its politics since apartheid ended in 1994.
The wines were brought here by expat South African, Martin Cahnbley, who has now made New Zealand his home. Not that he is importing all of these wines - yet.
The purpose of the tasting was to gauge which ones would appeal to New Zealanders before Cahnbley starts importing.
Whether we need any more choice of wines to buy is the question - we are already being inundated with new local wineries and new offshore labels every month.
The best whites at the South African tasting were not the predictable chenin blancs (South Africa's best known white until now) but sauvignon blancs from cool climate regions in that country.
The only trouble is that few New Zealanders are likely to opt for a South African sauvignon blanc above a locally made version - particularly since the price of our sauvignon blancs is lowering in most supermarkets.
The best South African wines are the reds, which are made mostly from cabernet sauvignon, syrah, grenache, pinot noir and pinotage; often blended in untraditional ways that create a marketing point of difference and taste original.
Hence, Flagstone Le Bow, made from the unlikely trio of cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and pinotage, and tasting as exotic as South Africa's diverse flora and fauna.
And the Newton Johnson Winery's syrah and mourvedre - another wine that shows why buyers in British auction houses predict South Africa will emerge as one of the world's top 10 markets for investment wines within the next decade.
They believe South Africa's wines will become as sought after to collect and on-sell as they will be to drink. That is, if you view wine as something to invest in rather than to drink. Thankfully, most of us don't take that view.
Cahnbley vows he will choose only the best wines of this experimental line-up to import and sell here.
His success with South African reds and whites in New Zealand will rest on his ability - or not - to bring in wines that are affordable (mostly under $25 a bottle), taste different to what's on offer here and which tap into the New Zealand mindset of clean, fruit-driven and relatively light (not over-oaked).
These are three qualities that New Zealand wine drinkers most easily relate to and value in a glass of wine today. And they are the qualities that depict the new wave of South African wines.By Joelle Thomson