In 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.
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.
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.