South Africa - The Growing Environment & Grape Growing - Grape varieties

5 important questions on South Africa - The Growing Environment & Grape Growing - Grape varieties

What are South Africa's top 8 grape varieties? How is the % in plantings spread?

Majority is white due to Chenin Blanc. 8 varieties count for 80% of the total plantings. 45% is black.
  1. Chenin Blanc nearly 20%
  2. Colombard 12%
  3. Cabernet Sauvignon 11%
  4. Syrah 10%
  5. Sauvignon blanc 10%
  6. Pinotage 7%
  7. Chardonnay 7%
  8. Merlot 6%

Chenin Blanc Characteristics (9)

  1. Chenin blanc grows best on limestone soils.
  2. Buds early (prone to spring frost)
  3. Sparkling, dry, off-dry and sweet white wines
  4. High acidity
  5. green apple, lemon, sometimes steely and smoky
  6. Vigourous, can carry high yields
  7. Prone to botrytis for sweet wines
  8. Ripens late, vulnerable to autumn rains
  9. Ripens unevenly so best quality to be picked on several  passes, and hand picked; adding to cost

Colombard South Africa

produces neutral white wine with m/m+ acidity and is typically used in blends

Describe the characteristics and wine styles of the grape variety Pinotage

  • 1925 bred at Uni of Stellenbosch
  • Black variety
  • Crossing pinot noir x cinsaut (hermitage)
  • Early budding (no spring frost issues in SA)
  • high sugar levels in small berries; high abv,
  • deep in colour, skin contact 3-5 days max
  • quality improving due to better vineyard management (avoiding waterstress) and better winemaking (cooler fermentation).
  • often blended with international reds for a Cape Blend.
  • Old bush vines give full bodied, rich, spiced berry fruit.
  • Larger volumes in fruity lighter styles.

South Africa Pinotage tasting note

  • Clear medium ruby colour.
  • Medium +intense nose of black fruit (blackberry), red fruit (kirsch), dried fruit (figs), spice (pepper, vanilla), dark cocoa, rubber, charred oak, leather, game.
  • Dry palate, medium acidity, medium ripe tannins, medium + alcohol, full bodied, medium + finish.
  • Very good wine, has potential for further ageing.

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