The Best South African Wines
One thing that every connoisseur looks for in a bottle of wine is consistency. A good wine will be able to stand the test of time, and taste good no matter what the vintage. In this area, South Africa has had its problems, mainly due to the heavy restrictive practices of the 1970s and 1980s which lead to wine being placed on the market regardless of the quality. This earned South Africa a reputation as having no really good wines, and many fans of the produce of the vine have avoided the country’s output due to this bad reputation.
South Africa has been producing wine since the 17th century, and has kept its wine culture going through good times and bad. For example, it has managed to produce a regular stream of wine even during the 1980s, unlike other countries who were only able to manage fortified wines. However, only since Apartheid has been scrapped have South African wines once again returned to the tables of European wine drinkers, and the reception has not always been positive. This can in part be attributed to the sudden rush to produce wines after 1994, leading to some inexperienced growers using unripe grapes that have lead to an unpleasant taste in the wine. After Apartheid, many farmers were keen to invest in wine production, and this lead to mistakes being made in the planting and growing of vines.
Fortunately, after all these mistakes, there are still good, consistent wines to come out of South Africa. This is mainly due to the hard work invested in wine growing by some companies, who have naturally risen to the top of the field. White wines from South Africa are often consistently good, and there are a number of different types to choose from. Best in the field are probably Chardonnay wines, but you can also find an excellent range of Cabernet Sauvignon produced by Thelema Mountain Vineyards. This wine estate has managed to produce several fantastic products all of which have a consistently good taste and flavour. The Constantia Vin de Constance is another consistent vintage made from Muscat Blanc, and has been produced since 1993.
Of the red varieties, perhaps the most well-known blend from South Africa is the Pinotage. Often seen as South Africa’s own little wine, it is a blend of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut, and has a deep red character that some people find off-putting, but others find very much to their palette. When handled by experts, this can be a consistently good wine which leaves other South African blends in the dust, but sometimes it can be a little bit sharp. In order to find a good Pinotage, purchase a variety which has consistently good reviews, and then try other vintages from the same producer.
Winemakers in South Africa have a long tradition of doing so – almost 400 years. While this is not as long as in some other wine producing countries, they have become very popular since their inclusion in the worldwide wine trade, due to the consistently good nature of the wine itself. Premium South African wines are certainly something to look out for when you are searching for a good wine globally.
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