April 1st, 2011 by jenn in wine varieties and styles
Sipping a rich and fruity Pinotage or a crisp golden and grassy Chenin Blanc you can almost feel the intense sunlight and dry heat or the cool Mediterranean sea breezes that characterize the magnificent southern tip of the African continent where 1.5% of the world’s grape vineyards now are located.
Currently one of the top ten wine producing countries in the world, South Africa has a history of viniculture that is as intriguing as its wines. The first harvest was in 1659 in the region of Constantia which today is known mainly for its Sauvignon Blanc. The industry prospered and exports grew during the time of British rule in the 1800s until blight destroyed many of the vineyards. Replanting and subsequent regulation of the industry in the early 1900s actually resulted in overproduction. However, due to boycott of South African products in protest of Apartheid, the country’s wine remained a well-kept secret until the late 1980’s when new technology and “flying winemakers” from other countries contributed to a resurgence. In addition to Constantia, other major winemaking regions include Stellenbasch, known for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinotage and Shiraz and Overberg which is becoming popular for its production of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Fortunately for us we can now enjoy a wide variety of wine from this lush and beautiful country.
Try a Chenin Blanc with everything from sushi, salad and Camembert cheese to barbecued chicken and pork. Pinotage pairs best with hearty pasta dishes – and pizza – as well as stews or game recipes and hard cheeses such as cheddar. Pinotage also is a nice complement to red meats, stews pizza and grilled meats and vegetables.