South Africans have been making wine for centuries, but it’s only been since the mid-1990s with the fall of apartheid and the lifting of U.S. sanctions against exports that its wine has been widely available in America.
In this short time, the country, particularly the spectacularly beautiful Western Cape area on the country’s southwest tip has seen a boom in wine production (and tourism).
The four most famous wine regions are Stellenbosch, (nicknamed “the Napa of the Cape”) Paarl, Constantia and Walker Bay. South African wines are classified as New World (a classification given to almost all wine produced outside of Europe), but it often shows Old World characteristics derived from its unique terroir and wine-making traditions.
More white grape varietals are planted than red, much of it Chenin Blanc (locally called “Steen”) and Sauvignon Blanc. But South Africa also makes good reds using Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, as well as Bordeaux-style blends. One popular producer you may recognize is Fairview’s Goats Do Roam label which makes good-quality blends with clever names like Goat Roti and Bored Doe. And then there’s Pinotage, a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsault created by a South African scientist in the 1920s. This medium-bodied, earthy red is both bottled on its own and used in blending with traditional European varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
If you’d like to taste a variety of the wines coming out of South Africa today, join us at Discovering the Cape, our March 28 Wine Down Wednesday at the new Signature Grille & Bar. Click here for more information.