South Africa has been growing wines since the 1600s. Despite a tumultuous history that included apartheid, economic sanctions, agricultural disease, and a struggling export market, South Africa has emerged as a region that punches well above its weight-class to provide top quality wines that we enjoy today. South Africa is divided into nine provinces with the Western Cape as the prime wine-growing region in the country. The most famous areas are located around Cape Town and they include the following names that you should remember:
- Franschhoek Valley
- Walker Bay
Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl together form the “Cape Winelands” and the 2017 Motovino crew will be traveling to this region in March! Check the excursions tab of the site for highlights once we return. Now back to the wines – Stellenbosch is the oldest and most respected winegrowing areas in the entire country with Franschhoek best known for their French styles. Paarl is home to more of the brands that you and I know from the states because they are more heavily imported to our local wine shops.
Walker Bay, located further east, is best known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnays due to the cooler climates and ocean influences.
Overberg, just south of Stellenbosch is an up-and-coming area best known for Sauvignon Blanc. Worcester is gaining popularity for its Syrah wine styles.
What’s great for consumers is that South African wines are made with exceptional quality and at amazingly affordable price points. Chenin Blanc (locally called Steen), Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah are grapes that get this region critical acclaim. These will likely be the varietals that you see most in wine stores. The other international grapes that do well here are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinotage.
All this to say is that you should take a trip down the South Africa wine aisles with an open mind. You’ll soon learn what I’m talking about when I say South Africa wines are boujee and budget-friendly. The Cabs and the Chardonnays are classy and tasty. The Pinot Noirs can compete with the best out of Oregon and France. Best of all the native Pinotage is a grape unique to South Africa with a flavor all its own (imagine ripe raspberries, chocolates, blueberries and even a touch of spicy tobacco sometimes). Whatever you choose, enjoy the bottle with great food and even better company.
A great local winemaker by the name of Vivian Kleynhan, Founder of African Roots wines (a portfolio brand that includes the better known Seven Sisters Wines), never thought that she would start a wine company 20 years after her father lost his job, and the entire family was evicted from their homes. She is the leader of one of the very few black-owned wineries in South Africa with her wines are exported to 46 states in the US. Her brand is also the first South African wine served on American Airlines. The brand grew from the vision and tenacity of a woman who sought land and funding in industry 99% male and white. In 2017 this vineyard will be producing the next chapter of wine in their portfolio with a brother John Brutus under the label Brutus Reserve Wines. How’s that for a little motivation!
Ready to see what all the fuss is about? Here are a few of my favorites:
Looks purple in the glass. The nose entices with dark cherry, orange peel, cedar wood, clove, liquorice,cinnamon and dark chocolate aromas. Tannins are silky.
Flavorful wine reminiscent of apples and tropical fruits
Currant and blackberry fruit with a hint of anise. Vibrant mouthfeel.
The aromas are flinty with honey, orange blossom and white stone fruit notes.