Cape Town is the main hub for South African wine production, and is considered one of the great wine capitals of the world. With a history of wine making that goes back about 300 years, South African wine has developed into a tantalizing mix of old world and new world techniques and flavors.
The vines grown in South Africa are all imported from Europe and are of the species vitis vinifera. Grape varieties grown in South African include:
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Chenin Blanc
- Pinot Noir
- Sauvignon Blanc.
The region that produces the most wine is the Worcester Region. Other well known regions are Constantia, Paarl and Stellenbosch.
South African Wine Flavors
Chenin Blanc is the most widely planted variety, and an annual competition called the Chenin Blanc Challenge is held to determine which variety is the finest. Chenin Blanc wines are sweet and dry with fruity flavors.
A few other varieties with flavors unique to South African wines are:
- Cabernet Sauvignon: pepper, dark cherry, cedar essences
- Chardonnay: oak aged with tropical fruit and buttery essences
- Sauvignon Blanc: sweet and dry wines with melon and spicy or herb aromas
- Shiraz: smoky, spicy flavor.
Although all the grape varieties are imported, a few local crossings have been made, most notably the Pinotage, a hybrid of Pinot and Hermitage grapes that has a hint of blueberry aroma.
Top South African Wines
The best South African red wines can probably be found in Stellenbosch, located near Cape Town.
Top varieties of red wines are the Pinot Noirs, such as the 1998 Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir from Walker Bay, and the Bordeaux style blends, such as the 1995 Morgenhof Premier Selection, from Stellenbosch. Top red wine wineries include Meerlust Estate and Warwick Estate
Top white wines are of the Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Chenin Blanc varieties, with one notable winery being Mulderbosch.
South African Premium Wine
If you are looking for high quality South African wines overall, you might want to look for wines endorsed by the South African Premium Wines company. The company is in partnership with many of South Africa”s leading wine producers, leading South African business personalities and even the South African government.
While not a winery, South African Premium Wines works to market and export the top South African wines to other countries. Two of the brands the company sponsors are Jabulani and Matuba.
The Great Wine Capitals Network
Cape town is one of the members of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network.Besides South African wines, Melbourne (Australia) wines also make the cut. The six other members are:
- Bordeaux, France
- Bilbao-Rioja, Spain
- Florence, Italy
- Mendoza, Argentina
- Porto, Portugal
- San Francisco-Napa Valley, United States.
Where to Buy South African Wine
South African wine can be purchased through a variety of online sellers. Because Cape Town is a main producer of fine wines, South African wines are easy to find even in a reasonable price range.