The summers in Cape Province tend to be long and dry. Without irrigation, many of the vineyards in South Africa's major grape-growing regions are parched as harvest time approaches. This is good for the grapes: too much water reduces the flavour and cuts the vital sugar content in the fruit. But the soil usually holds ample water because of the Cape's wet winters. Good winter rains are essential if the balance between sun, earth and water is to be maintained. There was plenty of rain in the winter of 1997, which eased the 98 vintage to fruitful success. This is reflected in the lush, tasty 98 cabernet sauvignon made by vintners at Cape Soleil estate. Now on sale at Wellcome for $48, this is a good-value red made from quality grapes. It's a big, fruity number and can easily be held for three years or more. Some of the vines at Cape Soleil are a quarter of a century old, and mature grapes often mean a well-rounded wine. This purplish wine with a lovely smoky flavour was aged in French oak, giving it a good balance. But the strength of the berry flavour comes through strongly. It's an ideal companion to a well-grilled steak, but I enjoyed this solid red with a spaghetti and a tomato-onion sauce. The same stable has a lemony chardonnay on the shelves (also $48), a fleshy, rich white that begs to be drunk now.