My wine list | lapetitenenette

Winemaking exists in South Africa for over 300 years ! It was in 1973 that legislation was implemented to establish geographical boundaries between production areas. There are 5 geographical units: Western Cape, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, Kwazulu-Natal and Limpopo.

 

6 distinct regions are officially dedicated to wine making : Boberg, Breede River Valley, Cape South Coast, Coastal Region, Klein Karoo and Olifants River.

These regions are also demarcated in 26 districts of which my favorite is the one held by our French ancestors who arrived during the persecution of the Protestants under Louis XIV in 1685: Franschhoek, "the little French corner"!

There are about 80 varieties of grape cultivars in South Africa, of which 3 varietials account for 42.5% of all of them in the country: Chenin Blanc, Colombar and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Here below are the cultivars I recommend you to discover...

  • Sémillon :

 

This grape originated in the region of Bordeaux (French West) is one of the first established in South Africa (since 1822!). Until the nineteenth century, it accounted for 93% of plantings, with a strong presence in the districts of Paarl and Worcester. In the Bordeaux region, it is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc (Graves, Sauternes). The flavors to discover: waxy, pineapple, peach, honey, vanilla, lemon, fig, grass, pepper

If wooded: vanilla, caramel, toasted, buttered

  • Chardonnay :

 

This grape variety, always dry, wooded or not, light or full body, has been present in South Africa since 1970 in most areas with a strong presence in the districts of Robertson and Worcester. Flavors to discover: lemony notes, grapes, apple, melon, sometimes pineapple, peach and chalk. With age: aromas of fig and honey. If it is woody: vanilla and caramel.

  • Chenin Blanc :

 

This is the "star" variety used in all styles of wine (dry, semi-dry, sweet, sparkling, dessert wines ...). These are fragile grapes to handle because of their pyramidal shape. This grape variety widely planted in South Africa is native from the Loire region in France. It has notes of tropical fruits, stewed apples, pineapple, peach, melon, marzipan, guava. With age: honey and almonds. If oaky: vanilla, smoked or toasted!

  • Sauvignon blanc :

 

This is also a widespread variety, especially in the Bay of Plettenberg, close to the Ocean which brings nice acidity to the wine, the favorite for locals to pair with seafood ! This variety shows aromas of fresh grass, green pepper, green asparagus which nice crispiness and acidity...

  • Shiraz

   (known as Syrah in France) :  

 

An amazing varietal to my heart and eyes that offers a nose and a palate quite different on South African lands, because of the hot and dry climate especially. It is a rich, complex and spicy grape variety perfect to pair with meat and sauces! It has a long aftertaste in the palate. I perceive Syrah in France as a more feminine wine with very red fruit nose whereas South African Shiraz appear to be more "masculine" wines to my eyes (or my nose and palate!). They present notes of very dark berries, plums, smoky, leathery along with spices like cloves, cinnamon, black pepper or even eucalyptus!

  •  Pinotage :

 

The "star" red grape in South Africa since it was created in the country itself by Professor Perold at the University of Stellenbosch in 1925. This grape comes from a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault (Hermitage). In 1961, he won the championships at the Cape Young Wine Show. The aromas revolve around red fruits, raspberry and strawberry, caramel and a nose of jam with some notes of spices like cinnamon.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon:

 


This is also a very widespread grape and acclaimed by the locals to pair with their meals! Arrived in the country in 1920, this variety resulting from a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc is a rather powerful wine and full bodied because it is very often wooded. According to the climatic conditions of the different soils, it can present a great range of aromas and good tannins structure: blackcurrant, blackberry, tobacco, cedar, mint, cigar box, olives, earthy, dark chocolate, eucalyptus or even vanilla!

  • Following an agreement with France, named « Crayfish Agreement », which prohibits the generic use of French names (Méthode Champenoise or Champagne method), South Africans had to rename their sparkling wine fermented a second time in bottles, like in the Champagne region. They finally came up with the naming « Methode Cap Classique » approved and recognized internationally.

  • These sparkling wines are also very nice to discover in the country based on 3 major grapes used mainly for this method : Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.

  • Pinot Noir constitutes the basis and brings structure to the wine as well as its deepness. Pinot Meunier brings some richness and fruits. Then, Chardonnay will add some notes of austerity while ensuring a fine maturation with fruit notes and will also preserves the wine elegance.

  • We can retrieve the same range of sparkling wines like in France:

    • Rosé with salmon color (either white + red grapes  blended together, or a red grape macerated a couple of hours with the red skin contact to give the pinkish color)​

    • Blanc de Noir or white from black (based on Pinot Noir juice without skin contact)

    • Blanc de Blanc  or white from white (Chardonnay)

    • Vintage (3 years, several grapes from different vintages)

    • Non Vintage (18 months)

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