CH Edition: Backsberg Estate Cellars Safari Collection

Enjoy our six favorite wines from the South African producer


For our second CH Edition Zambia photo safari this summer, we wanted our guests to have as local an experience as possible. We asked our friend Simon Back, who heads up marketing at his family’s South African winery, to join our group and share some of the great wines they produce. Our meals and traditional sundowners were much more enjoyable with his pairings and insights, and during a night at the lodge we got to experience a full-on wine tasting, learning about Backsberg Estate and the many styles of wine they produce in Paarl, an idyllic area in one of the world’s most productive wine growing regions an hour outside of Cape Town.

While only a few of readers were able to join us in Zambia to experience the trip first-hand, we teamed up with Backsberg, Invoer (their American importer and distributor), and SquareWine to create a special collection of our six favorite Backsberg wines we enjoyed on the trip.


This special Cool Hunting Edition Zambia + Backsberg Estate Cellars Safari Collection sells online from Square Wine for $100, plus shipping. The set includes the following:

2011 Backsberg Premium Pinotage

Region: Coastal, South Africa

Tasting Notes: Ripe mulberry and sweet strawberry flavors with a touch of herbs. A juicy mouth-feel with supple, sweet tannins.

Vinification: Early press and immediate 50% oak aging.

Vintage Notes: 2011 was a dry vintage with very little rain. Strong winds in November and early heat in January created smaller crops and an early harvest.

2012 Backsberg Chenin Blanc

Region: Paarl, South Africa

Tasting Notes: Pear, green apple and cashew provide an array of aromatic characters. Ripe fruit is tempered by finely balanced acidity to give a mouth filling, yet refreshing palate, which has a lingering finish.

Vinification: Long cool fermentation. Stainless steel aged.

Vintage Notes: 2012 was an extremely dry and hot vintage resulting in lower yields and more complex wine.

2012 Backsberg Reserve John Martin Sauvignon Blanc

Region: Coastal, South Africa

Tasting Notes: Gooseberry, green fig and guava aromas with grassy undertones combined with elegance and freshness, adds to the intriguing qualities of this wine.

Vinification: 100% Sauvignon Blanc—lightly wooded. 12-year-old vineyards, yield eight to 12t/ha. Very cool-picked, crushed and left on the skins in ice cold conditions for 12 to 24 hours. Only free run juice is used to settle and ferment cold in steel tanks. 15 to 20% of the blend is fermented in small French oak barrels and left on the lees for three to six months. The blend is bottled nine months after picked.

2012 Backsberg Tread Lightly Sauvignon Blanc

Region: Western Cape, South Africa

Tasting Notes: Bursting with aromas of gooseberry and passion fruit, this lively wine matches aromatic intensity with freshness and balance. Lime and nettle characters predominate the palate, cleverly matching fruit sweetness with natural acidity.
Vinification: Cold fermentation. Stainless steel aged

Vintage Notes: 2012 was an extremely dry and hot vintage resulting in lower yields and more complex wine.

2011 Backsberg Tread Lightly Merlot

Region: Western Cape, South Africa

Tasting Notes: Aromas of raspberry, red plums and earth. The palate is redolent with succulent, sweet fruit flavors and finely coated in ripe, mouth-filling tannins. Smokey and savory oak characters provide a subtle background to this complex and well-balanced wine.

Vinification: Oak aged for 12 to 18 months in French and American barrels.

Vintage Notes: Near perfect conditions; warm sunny days and cool rainless nights. This allowed for slow even ripening and flavor development.

Backsberg Klein Babylonstoren Cab/Merlot

Region: Paarl, South Africa

Tasting Notes: A specially crafted cuvee on the basis of varietal intensity and character. Ciolets, cassis and dried herb aromas from a complex bouquet hinting at the palate’s awaiting intensity. Flavors of blackberry and earthy forest floor elements are neatly meshed by fine, ripe fruit tannins that finishes dry with oak derived characters of cinnamon and vanilla.

Vinification: Two to 12-year-old vineyards, yield eight to 12 t/ha. Cabernet Sauvignon 49.7%, Merlot 50.3%. Wooded for 24 months. Separately prepared cultivators of Merlot and Cabernet are blended with other bordeaux varietals. Long skin and oak maturation makes this a very age-worthy wine.

Photos by Josh Rubin