White wine in South Africa
South Africa is known for its varieties of white wine, and in fact makes far more of this product than of red wine, and it has large vineyards completely dedicated to producing excellent quality white wine. It produces white wines in every one of the wine-making regions, and the crisp, fruity nature of South Africa’s white wines means that they have made a name for themselves in the international wine market. As overseas consumer interest grows, so it seems more likely that drinkers from the domestic market will also start to turn to South Africa’s white wines.
While wine experts are familiar with the idea of South African red wines as eccentric, challenging and even a little bit too much for the average wine drinker, the country has been steadily producing quite outstanding white wines that should have received a wider audience. That they have not is in part due to the lack of consistency between wines produced in one region, and the same wines produced in another part of the South African winelands. The differences are clear when you consider the number of problems that Chardonnay, a very simple and elegant wine, has had during production in South Africa. The good news is that as the wine growers have gained in experience, so they have learned how to produce truly outstanding wines.
Fans of white wine should be aware of the many different varieties of white wine which are produced in South Africa, as well as the different blends, making a significant percentage of all white wine produced. While it may still have a long way to go before it can rival Australia for the number of wine products being produced, South Africa is making good white wines that should be welcome at any table.
One of the many good white wines produced by South Africa is the Chenin Blanc, also known in the country as Steen. This is grown in around 23% of all vineyard acreages, so is the largest single wine grown in South Africa. As well as a single-vintage variety, it is also popular as a wine used to soften Brandy and other spirits. The most popular wine grown in South Africa is the Chardonnay. This wine was originally produced according to traditional methods, but new wine makers in South Africa are gradually experimenting with this age-old wine, particularly in the method of adding more complexity to Chardonnay.
Another good South African wine is the Sauvignon Blanc. Always a popular wine, this is perhaps the most distinctive wine grown in South Africa. Sauvignon Blanc, like its red wine cousin, has a peppery nature, and is often aged in oak caskets with fruit additions. It is often very light in body, and is considered to be a good wine to have with white meats, fish or salads, as its crisp, clear nature compliments these foods well. There are a number of other wines, including Riesling and Cape Riesling, in addition to other white wine varieties, all of which are now being extensively grown in South Africa.