Rust en Vrede

Best Wine List in Africa and the Middle East

Many wineries have their own restaurant. Understandably, however, for the most part they trade only in wines they’ve produced themselves, occasionally offering a bottle or two of their favorite producers from other regions, but rarely willing to share too much of the limelight.

Rust en Vrede has, to put it mildly, taken a different path. The list at the Stellenbosch producer’s fine in-house restaurant may feature all of its wines—and they may be given a prominent position, with the first few pages taken up with collected vintages of its 1694 Classification, Estate Blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, and other wines.

But the bulk of the 129-page list could never be accused of cellar palate. Described by World’s Best Wine Lists senior judge Francis Percival as “A genuinely nice list that would be good wherever it happened to be in the world. It’s a winemaker’s list,” Percival continued, “the kind of thing that would pull in winemakers looking to expand their horizons.”

Fellow judge Ch’ng Poh Tiong singled out the “fine verticals of South African producers,” for particular praise. “If you were a visitor to South Africa and went to this restaurant you would find the cream of South Africa.”

There are, indeed, few if any weaknesses on the list, which features thoughtful choices on every page, whether it’s dealing in New Zealand and Australia, Spain and Italy, Bordeaux and Burgundy, Austria and Germany—or a wonderful collection of Champagne and sparkling wine. But the highlight, which only adds to the sense of magnanimity, is South Africa, in the shape of one of the most complete collections of fine Cape bottles anywhere in the world.