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South African Wines – White Varieties

white-wine-glassIn this article I will briefly introduce the most popular white varieties grown in South Africa. White wine varieties still dominate the Cape vineyards, accounting for 55% of all plantings.


Whether unwooded or matured in oak , Cape Chardonnay always makes elegant wines full of fruit  flavours. This variety has become very popular in recent years with many new vineyards being planted.

Chenin Blanc

Though generally producing dry and fruity, quaffable wines, it is versatile and can be fashioned in a variety of styles. Many are full-flavoured, food-friendly wines with excellent maturation potential. This is the Cape’s most widely planted wine grape variety.

Sauvignon Blanc

One of South Africa’s most successful varieties although not particularly significant in terms of volume. Wines made from this variety are being recognised internationally for their quality and complexity and are produced in most of Cape’s diverse winegrowing regions.


Planted for over two hundred year, Semillon was once the Cape’s most dominant variety but today represents only a small percentage of the total vineyard area. It is regaining in popularity, offerring wines of great flavour and intensity.


Forty years ago, the viognier grape was virtually extinct.  Today, however, it is extremely fashionable, and set to become still more so. This variety is showing great promise in the Cape, producing delicate yet complex wines  with peach, apricot, honey and spice aromas.


This is usually a dry white wine with a pleasant fruitiness. Unknown to many, its great claim to fame is that as the base wine of Cognac.

Other white  wine varieties

Muscadel is popular and used mainly in the production of dessert wines. Gewürztraminer usually produces a light, off-dry wine. Others grown in small qauntites include  Hanepoot,  Nouvelle, Pinot Gris and Riesling.

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South African Wines – Red Varieties

red-wine-glassIn this article I will briefly introduce the most popular red varieties grown in South Africa.

In the past decade there has been somewhat of a renaissance in the South African wine industry, with many new plantings and a new generation of enthusiastic winemakers producing wines which are winning international accolades.

Because of this international demand, the production of red wine has increased dramatically in recent years to 45% of the national output, with white wine varieties accounting for the remaining 55%.

Cabernet Sauvignon

This noble grape is grown in almost all the regions of the Cape but most extensively in Stellenbosch and Paarl. It has become the most widely planted red variety and accounts for over a quarter of the acreage of all the red wine grapes in the country.


Traditionally blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot is now increasingly bottled on its own. This fruity, rich variety is found in Stellenbosch, Paarl and Worcester as well as along the West Coast.


Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir and Hermitage (Cinsaut) and is unique to South Africa. It is reknown worldwide for the distinctively rich and spicy wines it  produces.

Pinot Noir

Although not grown extensively in South Africa, some outstanding wines have been  produced, particularly in the cooler Walker Bay and Elgin  areas.


This grape is ideally suited to the Cape where  intense smoky and spicy wines are being produced. Almost 20% of red wine vineyards are are given over to Shiraz.

Other red wine varieties

Cinsaut is widely planted and used mainly for blending. Cabernet Franc,  Mourvèdre, Malbec, Grenache and Petit Verdot are  more recent introductions with small plantings at the moment.

In the next article, I will take a look at the most popular white wine varieties.

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South African Wines in the UK

Although South Africa is currently the ninth biggest producer of wines worldwide, it occupies fifth position in UK retail, currently the world’s biggest wine market in value terms.

The UK is expected to remain the single biggest export destination in the immediate future. WOSA (Wines of South Africa) aims to take South Africa from fifth to fourth position in terms of its value share of the retail sector, with value exceeding volume share. We can therefore expect to see more South African wines here and greater marketing of them.

There are a wide variety of wines from which to choose. For those South Africans amongst you, they will need no introduction. To those in the UK, new to South African wines, here is a brief inroduction to the wines from the stunningly beautiful Cape winelands.

Continue reading South African Wines in the UK

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Welcome To This Site

Thank you to those of you who have been waiting patiently whilst this website has been parked. Some of you followed the links on the parked site and I hope the links took you somewhere useful!

The time has come to start putting this website and blog together in earnest. This will be a slow process over the coming months as there is so much to do. There will be a few blogs initially as I put all of the background information together that will make this site interesting.

I also hope to incorporate a store into the site so that you will be able to buy many of your favourite South African Wines online, here on this website. Obviously there will be hints, tips and favourites discussed along the way as well.

The shape, colour and design of this site will alter over the coming weeks to make it more palatable to the eye and easy to use and navigate. I would welcome your feedback on this.

If there are any wine lovers amongst you who would like to build their own website in due course, whether or not wine related, please let me know and I will be delighted to share my experiences with you about this.

Having lived in Soutrh Africa for over 12 years and now drink South Africa wines almost exclusively, I look forward to sharing my eperiences and views with you.

Steve Moriarty