In the 17th century, vineyards were planted in the Nation of South Africa by a Dutch surgeon who was stationed along the Cape of Good Hope decided to include grape vines on his farm.
According to Platter’s South Africa Wine Guide, approximately 235,000 acres of land is used to grow wine grapes. Over the years, the grape variety in South Africa has increased from approximately 80 to 100.
Up to 65% of wine grape produced is white and includes Chenin Blanc, Colombard, and Sauvignon Blanc primarily. The red wine grapes include Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinotage, and Merlot.
The Cinsault and Pinotage Grapes
According to Wine Mag of South Africa, Cinsault once occupied a third of the vineyards in South Africa and was vintner’s bread and butter. In the 19th century, Phylloxera aphids destroyed vineyards, and Cinsault was selected to repopulate the affected vineyards. The popularity of this grape started to deminish so much that by 2017 production of Cinsult deteriorated to only 3% of the total crop.
The Vintage grapes are a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, which was first combined in 1925. The wine produced from Pinotage was said to be of poor quality. Today winemakers use it to produce a burley and jammy wine like Ashbourne Pinotage from Hamilton Russell, Guillermo Swartland Pinotage from painted wolf wine.
Chenin Blanc grape is a grape with a thousand faces and still looks for a focused identity when looking at the international markets.
The Hemel-en-Aarde Valley
The Hemel-en-Aarde valley, which means heaven and earth in the Afrikaans language is divided into three regions. The heights of these regions are excellent for the production of Pinot Noir at Spookfontein vineyards in this region. Overall the South African climate limits the production of this wine grape. Pinot Noir represents only 2% of the production of grapes in the whole country.
The Elgin Valley
This region was traditionally known for growing apples. The valley now produces red and white wine grapes on sandstone, shale, and granite soil. Red wine is elegant and attractive; the zippy white wines of the Elgin valley are distinctive. White wines are like Iona Sauvignon Blanc, Beaumont Family Wines, and Hope Marguerite Chenin Blanc.
Swartland’s dominant grapes are Chenin Blanc and Syrah. Swartland’s exceptional Syrah wines are produced between18 to 28 years, and they sell at high prices. Syrah makes high-quality wine, and that is why it is costly. Syrah variety includes the 2016 Syrah, 2016 Round stone Schist Syrah, and Iron Syrah.
Many of twnes produced in South Africa is still very cheap in comparison with their international counterparts. There is an ultra-premium category: wine sold for R200-R400 for per bottle of red wine or R90 plus for every bottle of white wine. South African wines are of top quality and value, reflected in the price of wine.
Some worthy brands to sample in South Africa include Deetlefs Family wine in the Western Cape, Avontuur wines near Stellenbosch, Natte Valleij Darling Cinsault, Jakkalsvlei wines in Garden Route, Iona Sauvignon Blanc, Ataraxia Chardonnay, and Rietvallei Vineyards near Robertson.
South African wine has evolved over the years. The quality of wine and production continues to be impressive as more wineries and restaurants continue to increase. The red and white wine grapes are grown in South African vineyards continues to produce excellent wine over the years. It comes at no supprise to me that South Africans. Whereever they are based around the the world continue to be avid supporters of South African wine, even of they have to buy SA wine online.