Independent agent Hayman, Barwell Jones (HBJ), which supplies international wines to the UK's specialist on-premise market, has added three wine brands from South Africa to its portfolio.
The three Stellenbosch estates, Le Bonheur, Alto and Uitkyk, join a selection of top quality European brands already distributed in the UK by HBJ - Italy's Sassicaia and Alsatian brand Dopff.
All three wines are award winners in South Africa. Le Bonheur was recently voted one of the best 100 brands at the SA Wine Trophy show, while Schalk van der Westhuizen, winemaker at Alto, is a previous gold medalist at the London International Wine & Spirit Competition. Uitkyk's new winemaker, Estelle Swart, has earned considerable acclaim for her 2000 and 2001 Sauvignon Blanc.
Alto Estate, a Merlot-based blend has acquired cult status in South Africa, and the 1996 Alto Cabernet Sauvignon is ranked one of Sweden's top reds.
The three estates are owned jointly by Distell, one of SouthAfrica's largest producers of wines, together with German investor Hans Schreiber. They are all located in Stellenbosch, the country's premier wine growing district that offers varying terroir and meso-climates, frequently creating wines of great complexity coupled with prominent fruit flavours.
Carina Gous, international group brand manager for Distell, said: "The inclusion of the three Stellenbosch estates in HBJ's portfolio is not only a vote of confidence but also offers considerable scope to advance their visibility in a fine wine environment.
"The increasing number of international awards won by South African wines enhances the credibility and rating of the industry as a whole and allows top-end products such as these to find their way onto exclusive dining tables."
Miranda Hayman of HBJ, which carries several other Distell brands, said her company was keen to build a South African portfolio of products and believed the three new estates would help to enhance already rising perceptions of South Africa as a country capable of producing world-class wines.
HBJ also carries wines from other New World wine producing countries, including Gallo single-vineyard wines, as well as the Chilean Vina La Mission and Bodega Trapiche from Argentina.