Friday, August 18th 2017
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Published on May 02, 2014 0

Somewhere between the oceans: South Africa

 The country of Nelson Mandela, Tolkien and Gordimer.

Between the Atlantic and the Indian oceans,in the shadows of the Masa Mountains,in the Cape,lies what most wine writers believe to be the most beautiful vineyards in the world.

The first vineyards in South Africa are planted in 1655,in the Cape of Hope,by the Dutch East India Company. But the Dutch have limited knowledge in wine,they make wine of unripe grapes, and don’t care about hygiene.As in other parts of the world,wine making is improved only when the French interfere. The French king Louis the 14th exiles the Protestant Huguenot’s to South Africa,in 1688. These 150 immigrants settle down in Franschoek- which means French corner- and begin to make wine.At first,mostly Brandy and fortified wine.

In the 1880′s,the phylloxera also spreads South Africa.At the start of the 20th century there is a period with rapid production. The KWV (Kooperatiewe Wijnbouwers Vereniging) is a big co-op which was founded in 1918 in order to bring stability to over-production and increase wine quality.To do this, it makes rules and regulations regarding wine growing in South Africa.

The Wine of Origin law is enacted in 1973,and brings apelation look alike regulations to wine making, such as for a wine to be labelled as a single varietal, it must contain at least 85% of the variety stated , and the categorization of wine production areas (from small to big) as estats, wards, districts and regions.In the 1980′s, South Africa is subject to embargoes because of Apartheid, and wine is also effected. The turning point is when Nelson Mandela is released from jail and is elected as president. After 1994,South Africa once again starts exporting wine to the rest of the world. Although most of the industry has been modernized,there are still wineries that ferment the wine in big wooden casks and in the open air,and that don’t use cultural yeast.

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In South Africa the Mediterranean climate can be seen.Vineyards are planted in lower altitudes.The Benguela current coming from the ocean cools the air and makes the Cape cooler than it suppose to be. Some regions require irrigation because of the draught.The soil types are granite,sandstone and schist.

White wine is produced much more than other warm climate wine producing countries.In the recent years, %45 of vineyards have been re-planted for more quality wine production, and organic wine making is rapidly increasing. South Africa is also an important country for sparkling wine.Together with other kinds, a total of 800 million liters is produced.

The WOSA is the non-profit wine organization with the most power, founded in 1999,with Kanonkop’s owner Johann Krige as chairman.

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Wine production in South Africa can be divided into 5 regions and 16 sub-regions. The most important area is the coastal strip,with regions including Swartland, Stellenbosch,Tygerberg,Cape Point,Paarl and Darling.The historic Constantia Valley was where the popular sweet wines of the 18th and 19th centuries were produced. 

Important grape varieties: Chenin Blanc(Steen),Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat of Alexandria(Hanepoot), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah,Cinsault ve Pinotage.

In 1925,South African Professor Perold created Pinotage by crossing Pinot Noir and Cinsault (official name Hermitage).Pinotage turned out to be a real star for South Africa,and it’s blend with other famous international grape varieties is called Cape Blend.Unfortunately very low quality varietal Pinotage wines can be found in the market.

Although Chenin Blanc was very popular,with the recent return to red wine, the acrage reserved for this grape is decreasing. Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are enjoying popularity. 

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Important Producers: Boekenhoutskloof Winery,Bouchard Finlayson,Cape Point Vineyards,De Trafford Wines,Ernie Els Wines,Fairview,Flagstone,Graham Beck,Hamilton Russell Vineyards, Hartenberg Estate,Le Riche,Kanonkop Estate,Kanu,Meerlust Estate, Mulderbosch,Nederburg  Wines, Neil Ellis Wines,Paul Cluver Estate Wines,Rustenberg Wines,Sadie Family Wines,Spice Route, Steenberg Vineyards,Stellenzicht,Thelema Mountain Vineyards,Vergelen Wines,Villiera,Waterford

Important Producers in Turkey: Fleur du Cap,Nederburg Winemaster’s,Stellenzicht

 

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