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Wines of South Africa

Wines of South Africa

Wines of South Africa

This week we went to the Four Seasons located close to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor for a Wines of South Africa tasting. Jim Clarke, a sommelier and a wine ambassador for South Africa’s wines, offered a very good two-hour presentation including a multimedia presentation that included 12 wines from different regions of South Africa.

Twenty-four wine enthusiasts attended the presentation held in a room with six round tables. Schott Zwiesel stemware were used for the wine tasting.

The wine tastings included descriptions, maps and photos of the wine regions in South Africa.  Jim explained that the climate in the wine growing region of South Africa is similar to a Mediterranean climate.

The eight wine regions include:

  • Western Cape
    Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge
  • Elgin
  • Stellenbosch
  • Oversberg
  • Paarl
  • Coastal Region
  • Franschhoek (French Corner)

Jim is well versed with the South Africa wine regions and wines. He included details about South Africa wines including:

  • There is not a signature variety to drive the awareness of wines from South Africa
  • The first wine made with South African grapes was made in February 1659.
  • From the mid 1700s to the end of the 1700s South Africa wines were famous in Europe.
  • The wine industry was halted in the early 1900s due to phylloxera and World War I.
  • The wine industry opened up to world markets for exports in 1994.
  • 95% of the South Africa vineyards are certified sustainable.
  • Locations of vineyards are divided by regions, districts and wards which are like AVAs.
  • The United States is one of the targets for marketing the wines from South Africa
  • Labeling regulations are restrictive in that if you want to use region, district or ward on the label 100 percent of the grapes must be from that area.
Wines of South Africa

Wines of South Africa

Sparkling Wine

Our wine tasting began with the Colmant Brut Rosé NV W.O. Western Cape which retails for $25. In the US this is a fast growing category. The sparkling wine was an orange with a pink hue color. The wine had multiple columns of small beads forming a small surface mousse. The wine offered a light red berry fruits and mineral. The mouthfeel was fresh and lively. “method cap classique” During production the wine spent 28 months on the lees.

White Wines of South Africa

La Vierge ‘Las Temptation’ Riesling 2015 W.O. Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge retails for $18. Jim noted that Riesling is not a common grape grown in South Africa. The Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge is located along the coast which receives cold currents from Antartica. The vines grow in shale soils. The wine was a light yellow color and the wine offered notes of lemon, grapefruit with a trace of peach. The wine was crisp with a finish of fruit yielding to mineral.

Paul Cluver Sauvignon Blanc W.O. Elgin 2015 ($16) is from Elgin which has the coolest climate for a growing region. The wine was a light yellow color. The taste had notes of vegetable and lemon grass. Lemon and tropical fruits were noted on the taste. The finish was fruity with veggie aftertaste yielding to mineral.

Capensis Chardonnay W.O. Western Cape 2013 retails for $80. This wine was a yellow color with notes of pear, apple and caramel. It had a medium-full body.

Stellenbosch Vineyards ‘Credo’ Chenin Blanc W.O. Stellenbosch 2010 retails for $25. Jim mentioned that there is more Chenin Blanc growing in South Africa than anywhere else in the world. The wine was a dark yellow color. The wine offered notes of citrus and apple with a touch of caramel. The finish was crips yielding to mineral aftertaste. It had a medium-full body.

Alheit ‘Cartology’ W.O. Western Cape retails for $60. This was a blend of Chenin Blanc and Semillon. The wine was a yellow color. The wine offered notes of citrus, mineral and tropical fruits. The wine had a medium-full body. The finish was crips with layers of fruit and a hint of caramel.

Red Wines of South Africa

Over the Mountain Pinot Noir W. O. Overberg 2012 is available at $17. The Overberg region has a cooler climate that is suitable for growing Pinot Noir. The wine was a translucent ruby with sienna hue color. The wine offered notes of raspberries with a bit of leather. The wine had medium tannins and was medium/full-bodied. The finish had fruit yield to mineral notes.

Simonsig Pinotage W.O. Stellenbosch 2010 retails for $24. The wine with 14% alcohol was an opaque dark purple to black color. The wine with a full body offered notes of black fruits and bold tannins.

Noble Hill Syrah W.O. Paarl 2013 sells fro $17. The Paarl region is shielded from breezes and water tends to be warmer. This wine was an opaque ruby color. The notes for this wine included smoke, dark fruit including plums and leather. The wine had medium/bold tannins and was full-bodied.  The fruit and leather yielded to spice.

Secateurs Red 2013 W.O. Coastal Region (Swartland) 2013 retails for $17. This was a blend of Cinsault, Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvedre and Pinotage. The wine was an opaque dark ruby color. The wine had notes of black raspberries. The tannins were bold and drying. This wine was full-bodied and crisp. The wine was fruity and earthy.

Raats Cabernet Franc W.O. Stellenbosch 2012 retails for $38. The wine was an opaque dark ruby with black hue color. Notes included leather, and black fruits. This wine was full-bodied with very bold tannins. The wine finished with fruit, spice and earthiness.

Chamonix Rouge W.O. Franschhoek 2013 was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. The wine was an opaque dark ruby color and offered notes of blackberries, cassis and leather. The wine was full-bodied with bold tannins. The aftertaste had fruit, earthiness and mineral.

South Africa Food and Restaurants

Jim finished his presentation with notes what people of South Africa like to eat. They love to barbecue which is known as braai. They like to braai everyday. Find out more about National Braai Day here. The types of entrees they enjoy include: seafood, game (antelopes, ostrich), lamb and sheep. Jim added that many of the best restaurants are located at the wineries.

For more details about the Wines of South Africa visit their website.

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