South African Wine Collection “Blazing” Through Arizona

Owners of Blazer Beverage enjoying their portfolio
Owners, Amarilys V. Drozdz and Tom Carbon ©Amarilys V. Drozdz

Blazer Beverage

Tom Carbon and Amarilys V. Drozdz, with their love of wine and extensive business resumes, own and operate Blazer Beverage, a wine distribution company.  They are currently in partnerships with restaurants, resorts, and wine shops all over Arizona. With a refreshing approach to sharing environmentally conscious wine, they aim to promote wineries and vineyards with long-term sustainable practices. Additionally, community involvement and supporting local charities are also a part of their mission.  Their portfolio consists of differentiated estate hand-crafted wines from the best wine regions worldwide. Moreover, their South African collection is a special niche to them, and Blazer should be quite proud.

Blazer Beverage South African Wine Porfolio
Overgaauw Vineyard in Stellenbosch, South Africa. ©Chris Thompson

South Africa Wine Region

A Dutch surgeon is regarded as the first to establish vine plantings in South Africa in 1652. Over 300 years later, in 1973, the Wine of Origin system was put in place to emphasize geographical regions for quality grapes growth. Moving forward, international export and improvements in viticulture and vinification continue to flourish. However, harsh winds and proximity to the ocean prove both challenging and rewarding for vineyard practices. Even so, the Coastal region of the country is most notable for quality wine grapes. With Stellenbosch being the most prominent, there are nine districts in the Coastal region. Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Colombard, and red Bordeaux varieties are some of the most planted grape varieties.

Sustainability, Organic and, Vegan

Sustainability certification on the neck of a bottle
Sustainable Farming Certification, ©Bill Thompson

Sustainable farming exercises conservation, preservation, social responsibility, and economic feasibility. Although ways of doing this vary from one vineyard to the next, some examples are night-harvesting and solar energy.

Organic wines come from grapes free of most pesticides and chemicals. Composting and cover-cropping are better options to prevent insects while adding nutrients to the soil. Furthermore, adding sulfites as a preservative is not permitted to prevent oxidation. This does affect shelf life but it’s a choice that’s changing the industry.

Vegan wines are those that are completely free of any animal products. For instance, fining agents such as egg whites deem the wine non-vegan. However, pea proteins and activated charcoal are acceptable fining agents.

Harvest in the vineyard
Bill Thompson of Wandering Cellars and Danie Steytler Junior of Kaapzicht Vineyards working in the Chenin Fields. ©Chris Thompson

Recommended Wines

Perdeberg Cellar Old Vine Chenin Blanc — Sparkling wine, 2019 – Paarl

Perdeberg Cellars and its dry land influence deliver Chenin Blancs of remarkable quality. Using the traditional method as they do in Champagne, the second fermentation takes place in the bottle. This sparkling is elegant and crisp with notes of Granny Smith apples and citrus. It finishes with a gentle bite of minerality. With lovely effervescence, it pairs nicely with a charcuterie of fresh Gruyère and Camembert cheeses, and salted almonds.

Van Loveren Colombar, 2020 – Robertson

One of South Africa’s exquisite family-owned wineries, Van Loveren brings us this unique gem full of fragrant orange blossoms.  Flavors of sweet melon and peaches impart a smooth mouthfeel. Each sip makes me think about the family history. I imagine pairing it with seared scallops and oyster aioli.

Diemersdal Pinotage Reserve, 2019 – Durbanville Valley

Diemersdal is a well-known landmark and one of the Cape’s oldest wine regions. Accordingly, Pinotage is South Africa’s most famous home-grown grape variety. This one is unique in that it offers a softer style of wild brush with fresh berries, plum sauce, and tobacco. Hence, the complexity deserves to be matched with its equal.  I recommend pairing it with venison in a mushroom cream sauce.

Kaapzicht Cabernet Sauvignon, 2017 – Stellenbosch

Where farm community is life, Kaapzicht gifts us a Cabernet Sauvignon that rivals some of the best in the world. The rich blackcurrant and the silky mouthfeel are balanced with the aromas of crushed rock and earth. Additionally, the flavors of Mediterranean spices are enhanced by subtle oak. Lastly, I recommend drinking this all by itself, or with succulent lamb chops with garlic rosemary sauce.

Overgaauw Tria Corda, 2015 – Stellenbosch

The Van Velden family, with their legacy of pioneers, has great respect for their founder at Overgaauw. Furthermore, the family takes pleasure in being responsible for South Africa’s first Bordeaux blend. Their flagship, Tria Corda, is a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc from exceptional fruit discovered in every sip. Moreover, the velvety tannins, ripe blackberries, and cassis are harmoniously in balance with the minerality. Finally, the delicate flavors of cedar and spice come from the beautiful integration of fine oak. Indulge in this on its own, or with fruit-glazed roasted chicken.

South African wines availalble Peacock WIne Bar
Peacock Wine Bar in Gilbert, AZ, ©Tracy Wallace

Where to find Blazer Beverage’s Hand-Selected Wines

When I taste a wine, I remember it because of the way it makes me feel. Consequently, I make it a point to know where I can find it again.

Many wines from Blazer Beverage’s South African collection can be found in the Arizona market at Peacock Wine BarDivided Vine Beer and Wine Bar, Timo Wine Bar, Duck & Decanter, Arcadia Premium, Cellar’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Trevor’s, and Feast in Tucson. Furthermore, Arizona Country Club in Phoenix and The Country Club at DC Ranch in Scottsdale are among the country clubs that rotate these wines by the glass, for retail and events. Other locations include D’Vine Bistro in Mesa and Harry’s Place in Tempe.

Tasting through Blazer's South African Collection
South African Wine Collection, ©Darla Hoffmann

Darla Hoffmann

Wine Journalist and Certified Sommelier, Darla Salem Hoffmann, is the owner of About Wine and Travel, a wine marketing and education company based in Arizona. She is a freelancer and blogger and writes about wine, food, and, travel. She also conducts tastings and classes on wine regions and varieties across the globe.