The Cape winegrowing areas, situated in the narrow viticultural zone of the southern hemisphere, mainly have a Mediterranean climate and the mountain slopes and valleys form the ideal habitat for the wine grape Vitis vinifera, (common grape vine). Long, sun-drenched summers and mild, wet winters contribute to the ideal conditions for viticulture at the Cape.
The Cape winelands stretch from the rugged mountains and multi-directional slopes of the coastal region to the open plains of the Klein Karoo where viticulture takes place mainly in the riverine valleys. South Africa’s vineyards are mostly situated in the Western Cape near the coast. Rainfall on the coastal side measures up to 39 inches of rain per year.
In keeping with the spirit of renewal in the South African wine industry, in recent years over 40% of the vineyards were replanted as the industry has realigned its product to compete globally, moving from volume production to noble cultivars and quality wines. South African vineyards were once dominated by white grape varieties but the predominantly red new plantings shifted that. In the last four years, winegrowers have started planting more whites than reds, a reversal of the 10-year trend to planting more reds.
Noble varieties which have been cultivated increasingly in the past few years include Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, which produce top-class white wines, and Shiraz and Pinot Noir. Although most of the vine varieties cultivated in South Africa today were originally imported, up to now six local crossings have been released. The best known of these is a red variety, Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Hermitage (Cinsaut), which more recently is being cultivated locally on a fairly large scale.
Lion’s Lair Rosé 2013 is a 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot produced by Leeuwenkuil Family Vineyards. A pleasurable wine lush with strawberries and cherries on the palate and nose. The Leeuwenkuil farm is situated in the Swartland wine region, 30 miles north of Cape Town along the West Coast of South Africa. The Swartland is mostly planted with bushvines, because water is very scarce making the area extremely dry. This results in smaller berries as the vines are constantly stressed and gives a great concentration of fruit from varieties that can handle the environment. The Swartland is often associated with the Rhone region in France and the styles of wine are somewhat similar. SRP $16.99. Wines can be purchased at Total Wine & More
Goats do Roam Rosé 2014 a heavily slanted berry wine, on the nose and palate. This sweet value wine shows off its ample bouquet of strawberries, and cherries. The ‘legend’ goes that some errant members of the vineyard’s long-established goat herd, supplier of milk for Fairview’s internationally award-winning cheeses, took the backseat when owner Charles Back’s young son Jason and buddy Justin had left open the gate to the paddock containing Fairview’s famous goat tower. The little group happily roamed among the vineyards, showing rare discernment by selecting the ripest berries off some of the choicest vines. Thus “Goats Do Roam” was established, in 1999, what was for the South African wine scene an innovative blend using Rhône varieties such as Shiraz, Cinsaut, Carignan and Mourvèdre with a dash of local Pinotage, which Back had sourced from various vineyards (his own and others) around Paarl and Malmesbury. SRP $9.99. Wines can be purchased at Total Wine & More
De Morgenzon DMZ Cabernet Rosé 2013 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. This crowdpleasing rosé displays sweet aromas and sweet juicy flavors of pomegranate, watermelon and strawberries. De Morgenzon DMZ focuses on wines which express its own unique terroir and fruit. DeMorgenzon means ‘the morning sun,’ thus the name because it is the first part of the Stellenboschkloof valley to see the sun due to its high altitude. SRP $11.99. Wines can be purchased at Total Wine & More
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