Luvo Ntezo
7 minute read
17 Feb 2021
4:17 pm

Is there such a thing as ‘cheap, good wine’?

Luvo Ntezo

I could go on forever about the countless options available on the market, especially if it means demystifying beliefs about the accessibility of wine and converting more of my fellow South Africans to wine drinkers, writes Luvo Ntezo.

Picture: iStock

Is there such a thing as cheap, good wine? Winemaking and vine growing are labour intensive and costs of production are extremely high. However, the tremendous passion shown by the industry allows us, the general public, to reap the rewards of countless affordable yet excellent labels to fill our wine racks with. I am a known bargain hunter, myself, and as head of wine procurement for an iconic establishment such as One&Only Cape Town, I am often in pursuit of remarkable, quality wines in various price ranges.

In my time, I have come across a great deal of “value for money” wines and will take this opportunity to share with you some of these gems. Firstly, and perhaps a favourite, is Kanonkop Cadette Pinotage. The cellarmaster is Abri Beeslaar and is the proud recipient of three ‘Best Winemaker in the World’ awards. Kanonkop has long established itself as the nation’s leading producer of Pinotage and I’m pleased the Krige family has come out with a superb wine in the Kadette range at a price point that appeals to the greater consumer audience in South Africa. Another wonderful option is Warrick’s First Lady Cabernet Sauvignon; this wine celebrates Norma Ratcliffe as South Africa’s first lady of wine and believe me when I say quality really over-delivers here.


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It would be sinful not to mention Ses’fikile Wines, the matriarch Cap Classique by Nondumiso Pikashe. It is such a delight sipping on this wine whilst reflecting on the amazing role Ms. Pikashe has played in changing views and building appreciation for wine in townships across South Africa. I will always welcome a glass of this delicious, clean and fresh yet appealingly complex MCC. Also noteworthy is the Groot Phesantekraal Sauvignon Blanc – I truly love this wine, in fact, the entire range. I live in Durbanville so there may be regional patriotism at play here; but the area has really built itself an incredible reputation as a sauvignon blanc haven in South Africa. And this particular one has delicious characteristics – perfect for a summer’s day and layered with hints of guava, green apple and lime cordial. It also ages well and, most importantly, it doesn’t break my already fragile bank account.


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South Africa is, without a doubt, one of the best regions in the world where one can purchase exceptionally fine wines at great prices. I could go on forever about the countless options available on the market, especially if it means demystifying beliefs about the accessibility of wine and converting more of my fellow South Africans to be wine drinkers. For now, I will leave you with this handful to try.

Wine regards,

Luvo Ntezo

Luvo Ntezo – Head Sommelier, One&Only Cape Town.


About One&Only

Created exclusively for the ultra-luxury market, One&Only is conceived as a hallmark of excellence. Set in some of the most beautiful locales in the world, each award-winning resort offers guests a distinctive style and personality borne of its local culture, a genuine hospitality and a lively energy that is unrivalled. The exclusive collection includes One&Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives; One&Only Le Saint Géran in Mauritius; One&Only Royal Mirage and One&Only The Palm in Dubai; One&Only Palmilla and One&Only Mandarina in Mexico; One&Only Cape Town in South Africa; Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley in The Blue Mountains in Australia; One&Only Desaru Coast in Malaysia; and One&Only Nyungwe House and One&Only Gorilla’s Nest in Rwanda. As part of the new portfolio, One&Only will be opening One&Only Portonovi in Montenegro in 2021. Additional resorts in development include One&Only Kéa Island in Greece and One&Only One Za’abeel in Dubai as well as communities of One&Only Private Homes around the world. More information on One&Only is available at

About Luvo Ntezo

Internationally recognized as the Best Young Sommelier in South Africa, Luvo Ntezo has emerged as the international wine community’s shining star, heralded as one of the best sommeliers in the world.

Luvo’s appointment as Head Sommelier at One&Only Cape Town in June 2011 came after his mentor, Clive Bennett, joined the prestigious hotel as Managing Director in December 2010.

His passion remains embedded in new wineries and emerging terroirs from South Africa. Luvo spends much of his time exploring the lesser-known wine producing regions of the Cape in search of new offerings to add to One&Only’s impressive collection of 5,000 bottles – one of the largest collections in Africa. Visitors to One&Only Cape Town have the opportunity to interact with Luvo in The Wine Studio, a sleek and sophisticated space where key resort wine experiences such as the Sip & Savour and Wine Blending masterclass is held.

‘The wine list at our hotel is massive and features both old and new world wines as well as many vertical vintages,’ says Luvo. ‘It’s my job to introduce our guests to new tastes and to help them celebrate their favourites – there are no golden or unbreakable rules with wine in my opinion. We want to encourage people to explore their own taste preferences. If we can show them something new to enjoy along the way, we’ve done a good job.’

‘I’m enjoying myself and learning a great deal from working at One&Only,’ says Luvo. ‘Every day I discover new things and meet new people; I’m lucky though – wine is a great unifier, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, if you can share and enjoy a bottle of wine, you’re halfway there.’

Born in 1983, Luvo grew up modestly in a small town in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. The middle child in a family of three, Luvo’s first introduction to the world of wine was as a pool porter at the Steenberg Hotel in Constantia. ‘I didn’t have any interest or knowledge of wine. My family had never been big wine drinkers. I just needed a job,’ says Luvo. After six months working there, a guest ordered a bottle of wine. Luvo at that point had never opened a bottle of wine before, and after trying repeatedly, he had to ask the guest for help. Following the experience Luvo went to winemaker John Loubser, and asked him to teach him all there was to know about wine.

Under Loubser’s mentorship, the young porter gained a comprehensive understanding of both the production and the tactical side of winemaking. In 2003, Luvo left the Steenberg Hotel to accept a job as a glass washer at the Twelve Apostles in Cape Town. During a chance encounter, and whilst polishing wine glasses at a wine seminar, the winemaker offered Luvo a taste of the wine. Whilst everyone else gave positive feedback on this wine, Luvo was certainly stated that he believed the bottle to be corked.  He was right. The bottle was in fact corked. So impressed by his knowledge, understanding and inherent talent for tasting wine, the General Manager offered to send Luvo to school and become a certified sommelier for the hotel. From 2006-2008 he studied at the Cape Wine Academy in Stellenbosch, whilst continuing to work at the hotel. In 2008, he agreed to participate in the prestigious Young Sommelier’s category in the national Chaîne des Rôtisseurs competition in South Africa. He won first place that year, and in the years following. Luvo went on to compete in the international competition held in Vienna in August 2008, and was placed an impressive fourth in the world.

Whilst training for the competition, Luvo was exposed to thousands of wines from across the globe, and enjoyed regular trips to High Street Kensington in the UK to study with some of the best sommeliers in Europe. He soon developed tastes for wine outside of South Africa, including New Zealand, Australia and Canada. Whilst he grew a strong affinity for the Sparkling Wines of West Sussex, his favourite international grape remains the Pinot Noir from Oregon.

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