Emerging from the shadow of
Apartheid, South Africa is increasingly making better wines which
usually represent good value for money at all levels on the quality
scale. Although South Africa is classed as a 'new world' region, wines
it produces are often nicely poised between the new world and old
world styles. Look out for reds from South Africa's 'own' variety,
Pinotage, which makes striking gamey and earthy-tasting wines, often
with a savoury, cheesy edge to them. The most famous regions are
Stellenbosch, Paarl and Constantia, although cooler regions such as
Walker Bay are beginning to attract attention.
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Historical region that's tucked away in the smart southern suburbs of Cape Town (this is where the first
vineyards were planted in South Africa), now undergoing a bit of a
revival. As well as being a beautiful region, the vineyards are
ideally sited on the slopes of Constantia Mountain, where they are
cooled by the sea breezes. Just five estates here, all good: Klein Constantia,
Groot Constantia, Buitervenwachting, Constantia Uitsig and Steenberg.
Newish cool-climate region east of
Stellenbosch, which is still predominantly a fruit-growing area.
Because of the altitude, it's usually a good few degrees cooler than
the main wineland regions. Leading producer is Paul Cluver, but some
of the 12 other grape growers apparently have plans to bottle their
own wines soon.
The Franschoek valley is a small but significant region, inland (to the west) of Stellenbosch.
Surrounded by the spooky-sounding Drakenstein mountains, the wide
variety of soils and relatively high rainfall permits production of a
wide variety of wine styles. It's a hotter region than Stellenbosch,
and with its profusion of trendy restaurants it can rightfully claim
to be the gourmet capital of the winelands. An easy day trip from Cape
Well known region north-west of Cape Town, and home to several leading
producers, including Veenwouden, Nederburg, Fairview, Glen Carlou and
Plaisir de Merle. Traditionally a white wine region, but with its
Mediterranean climate and terroirs it's now focusing more on reds.
Hotter than Stellenbosch, so the very best wines come from the more
Some 120 km east of Cape Town, next door to Worcester, this hot region is
rather paradoxically best known for its whites. De Wetshof, Springfield and
Graham Beck are among the leading producers here.
Just a short distance east of Cape Town, this is the country's leading
wine area, and is home to many of the country's leading estates. The
town itself is dominated by the University, and despite its relatively
large size has quite a relaxed feel. Vineyards fringed by mountains
make for some lovely views, and the wine route, which takes tourists
through several different trails, is well marked out. There are
several different subregions, and the geology here is quite complex.
granite-based soils in the east are especially suited to the
production of fine red wines, whereas the sandstone soils in the west
are best for whites.
Large region to the north of Cape Town, mostly given over to wheat
farming. Rainfall is light, so irrigation is usually needed. The
This cool-climate wine region, on the Whale Coast to the south of Cape Town,
is on the up: just a few producers so far, but Hamilton Russell and
Bouchard Finlayson are now making classy Chardonnay and Pinot Noir,
and Sauvignon Blanc shows promise.
Hot (thermally, that is) wine region located inland from Cape Town. Production here is
dominated by several large cooperatives.
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