Since the early 1990s, South Africa has enjoyed a peaceful, positive and democratic existence. Dynamic and enormously diverse as a nation, South Africa’s Western Cape offers the very same attributes in its winemaking tradition and history, which dates back over three and a half centuries.
As the shackles of apartheid fell loose, established winemakers re-emerged onto the international scene, followed by a full scale explosion of new wines, wineries and international investment. In turn, this has helped to attract more highly qualified winemakers to ply their trade in the Cape; surely the most beautiful winemaking region of the world.
As winemaking has intensified, so too have the number of varietals cultivated. Indeed, new wine regions have come into being during this period as an understanding of terroir, climate, vine variety and aspect have come into play. Improved winemaking techniques and vineyard management have help to bolster the quality of fruit received by the winery. Garagiste, small scale growers producing wonderfully unique, hand-crafted wines are at every turn, as is the emergence of the maverick winemakers in the expansive Swartland region, to the north of Cape Town.
The varieties vary with region; however Chenin Blanc, the famous white variety of the Loire Valley in France truly shines in the South African sun. It arguably holds the country’s greatest potential on the world scene. Here it has the potential to produce dry, full-bodied, floral examples which are at the same time immediate, whilst conversely holding the capacity to develop beautifully in bottle. Old vine examples offer even greater complexity and potential – look out for the showstopping pair of Stellenbosch examples; DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc and Kaapzicht’s ultra rare 1947 Chenin Blanc which heralds from the nation’s second oldest Chenin vineyard. Of the reds, Pinotage is the ‘marmite’ variety which offers plush, richly-flavoured wines which work wonderfully in the right winemaking hands. Frontier has the pleasure of offering two great examples at both ends of the stylistic spectrum; Spice Route’s Swartland Pinotage is modern and beautifully styled, and Kaapzicht’s Stellenbosch Pinotage, which has a classic, gutsy, more traditional feel. Both are outstanding. Elsewhere, Sauvignon Blanc in the region of Darling; Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir in the cool climes of Elgin; Bordeaux varietals (and especially blends) from the iconic Stellenbosch region and Rhône varietals, both red and white, from the uber-trendy Swartland. South Africa does have it all.
In a nutshell, these are inspiring times for South African wine as the country starts to fully develop its own identity. As it delivers day by day on the vast potential which exists, there is no doubt that the Rainbow Nation is the most dynamic and focused wine producing region of the New World. Its potential for greatness is matched only by its desire to succeed.
Frontier Fine Wines is extremely proud to have direct links to some of the true trailblazers of South African wine. A selection of their stunning wines can be found just a few clicks away.