About South African Wine
South African wine has an illustrious history dating back to the 17th century when the Dutch East India Company established a supply station on the southern tip of Africa for their vessels travelling to India and beyond. Many Wine Estates of the era survive to this day, their tradition and heritage forming the foundation of the South African wine industry we see today. The majority of the wine is grown near the city of Cape Town with notable towns & regions such as Stellenbosch, Franshoek, Paarl and Swartland just to name a few. South Africa is best known for its Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage & Syrah.
A uniquely South African grape
In 1925 Prof. Abraham Izak Perold, the first Professor of Viticulture at Stellenbosch University, crossed Pinot Noir & Cinsaut (known as Hermitage in South Africa). It is generally believed that his intentions were to capture the best qualities of these two varieties, the elegance & quality of Pinot Noir and the robustness of Cinsaut.
In 1959 the first vintage Pinotage was released, internationally the grape received mixed reviews. In 1991 the debate over the calibre of Pinotage was finally put to rest. At the International Wine & Spirits Competition in London, Kanonkop Wine Estate’s Pinotage won the prize for Best Red Wine of the year.
Pinotage has a deep purple colour, you can expect aromas of blackberry, black cherry & raspberry. This luscious, easy drinking wine compliments lamb, venison, stews as well as fish such as salmon and tuna.
Method Cap Classique - MCC
French quality at a South African Price
When it comes down to it there are two ways to make a sparkling wine. The first is make the base wine and then add CO2, it’s fairly easy to do and cost effective. The second is a little more complicated, an art form, a mysterious alchemy. The crucial step in the ‘Méthode Champenoise’ which gives Champagne those glorious little bubbles and bread like aromas is the second fermentation. This takes place inside a sealed bottle; the carbon dioxide released during fermentation is therefore trapped giving the wine its signature fizz.
In order to differentiate themselves, South African Sparkling wine makers who followed this time-honoured traditional method needed a name. Enter the MCC. MCC sparkling wines are integrated and balanced. The commitment to quality is evident with every sip.
The shipwreck that started it all
In 1647 a ship, by the name Nieuw Harlem, wrecked off the coast of modern day Cape Town. This Dutch East India Company ship was one of a fleet on their way back to Holland from the East. Fortunately all of the crew survived, half of them joined the other ships on their voyage back home whilst the other half, around 60, were left behind to salvage the cargo and set up camp. It would be almost a year before they would return home. This temporary camp served as the inspiration for the Dutch East India Company to establish a permanent resupply station for their ships in the Cape.
Five years after the fateful shipwreck, a man by the name of Jan van Riebeek led a group of settlers to the Cape. As the first Commander of the Cape, it was his job to ensure the success of the new outpost. Passing ships of course needed fresh food but the sailors also needed wine. Seven years after setting foot in the Cape van Riebeek recorded the first wine harvest in his diary. These were early days though and the results were mixed. It was one of van Riebeek’s successors, Simon van der Stel, who helped elevate wine making in the Cape. His estate, Constantia, impressed European royalty during the 19th century with its sweet wines. Van der Stel’s legacy was secured with the famous wine growing town of Stellenbosch named in his honour. Constantia survives to this day and is the oldest wine estate in the country. The Cape’s wine making capabilities were further boosted by the arrival of the French Hugenotes towards the end of the 17th century. These religious refugees settled in a town which became known as Franshoek (French Corner). The expertise and knowledge they brought with them was invaluable to the early development of South African wine making.
A sustainable future
Sustainable Wine South Africa (SWSA) was formed in order to safeguard the future of the industry. SWSA is driving South African producers forward in every aspect of the trade. From environmental impact assessments, the preparation of soil, protecting biodiversity, recyclable packaging & fair labour practices. All compliant producers' wines bear the seal of the Wine and Spirit Board of South Africa.
This seal certifies that
- The vintage, variety and origin that are shown on the label are correct.
- The wine has been produced sustainably, in an earth-friendly manner.
- The wine can be traced all the way from the vine to the bottle.
- It was bottled in South Africa – so it is 100% South African!
Go to http://www.sawis.co.za/sealsearch.php and enter the numbers on your seal to see for yourself.