South African Wine?
Recently I have had an affinity for South African wine. When an evening with wine comes to mind it may not be the first place you think of - but it should be.
South Africa offers amazing value for quality wines, and that same quality from Old World or more prestigious New World regions would warrant a very different price tag.
This love affair with South Africa may have started with my insane desire to rappel off of Table Mountain, visit penguins in Durban, and go on a game drive to see some lions (tigers and bears, oh my!). But until I can take that dream vacation, I figure indulging in some of their agricultural products (let's be honest, just wine) is the best place to start.
South Africa is located at the very tip of the African continent.
There is a climate that is ideal for viniculture along the coast of South Africa.The majority of the country may host hot, safari like temperatures, but this couldn't be farther from the truth in regions like Walker Bay, Stellenbosch and even Paarl.
A perfect mix of cooling influences that come off the Indian and Atlantic oceans deliver a ''just right'' climate for those grapes. These cooling influences make the difference in feeling like you're drinking a pie or gnawing on grape stems.
So what kind of wines is South Africa known for?
The famous (or infamous? Depends on your tastes!) Pinotage. A grape varietal that is seldom found anywhere else in the world is actually a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsault. Its fruity, easy to drink and hosts a smokey character. A great pairing to spiced charcuterie (like pepperoni! yum!).
South Africa is also home to some unique expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. When I think of these I think I think of French style Cabernet Sauvignon, with that token New World twist. Higher in alcohol due to hotter soils, but perfectly balanced.
If Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa isn't on your go-to list; it should be. They are known to produce Bordeaux-esque Cabernet Sauvignon with a slightly fuller body. You still get the hints of eucalyptus and the full ripe fruit without any over-ripeness.
I really enjoy Two Oceans Cabernet Sauvignon blend. Crisp, refreshing and fruity - I love sharing a glass of this with my mom. Easy drinking and not quite your bold Napa Cab.
Another insane buy from South Africa is the Sauv Blanc. Admittedly, I can be a bit of a snob when it comes to this varietal.
Too Green. Too Sour. Too Gooseberry-y.
But - South African Sauvignon has to be one of my favourites. Normally a Sancerre fan, I really enjoy the cooling influences delivered by the Agulhas current from the tropics and the Benguela current from the South Pole. It's also insanely good value for the quality.
Pro tip: Get Sauv Blanc from Stellenbosch!
I recently had the opportunity to try Two Oceans Sauv Blanc.
It is beautifully refreshing with flavours of passion fruit, green apple and sweet melon. Perfect with white fish and Saturday afternoons.
What is your favourite South African wine?
PS - also try the Chenin Blanc!! South Africans call it their white grape of choice!