Cultivars and Blends

Cultivars Grown in South Africa

South African Blends

General Questions

What is Pinotage?
Pinotage is a locally bred cultivar which was developed from a cross of the varieties Pinot Noir and Cinsaut (then commonly known as Hermitage) by viticulturist Professor Abraham Izak Perold in 1925. The first bottled pinotage appeared in 1961. It is a light to medium wine and is generally ready to drink sooner than a Cabernet Sauvignon it does; however have good aging potential.

What do South African wines cost?
The range of prices of wine is quite large. It is possible to buy a fairly reasonable dry red blend for as little as R10.00. As little as R8.00 if one isn't too fussy. Most recent Cabernet Sauvignons (just released) will sell at between R15.00 and R25.00. White wines generally can be purchased for between R10.00 and R20.00. These prices are all direct from the estate/farm.

What is Cap Classique?
Methode Cap Classique is the South African equivalent of Methode' Champenoise or Champagne. It refers to sparkling wine which derives its sparkle from being fermented in the bottle (as they do in Champagne, France) rather than by having CO2 pumped through it. The reason we call it Methode' Cap Classique is that in the late sixties South Africa signed an agreement with France in which it was agreed that the French would buy South African crayfish provided that South African wines carry no French names or words. Thus the word Chateaux is also out (except for Chateaux Libertas which was exempt from the agreement by reputation).

How do South African blended wines differ from those of other countries?
The traditional South African blend bottled since the establishment of the South African wine industry consists of predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon and smaller amounts of Shiraz with or without a smattering of Cinsaut (also known as Hermitage). This style of wine fell out of fashion in South Africa at least in the late seventies and early eighties (only to be picked up by the Australians with great success). The current fashion in the South African winelands is the Bordeaux style blends tending more towards the medoc style.

There is a school of thought in the winelands that believes that the South African wine industry has lost its individuality with this shift in style and should return to the original formula and set its own definitive style on the world wine map. Another school of thought advocates a truly unique South African blend which would include pinotage which is uniquely South African.

What fortified wines are there?
There is quite a range of fortified wines available:
How much wine does South Africa produce?
The Cambridge Factfinder gives the world's top wine producers as: (1989 figures)
          Country     Percentage of              Quantity
                      World Production         (thousand tonnes)
          Italy         20.6                        5980
          France        20.3                        5891
          Spain         10.4                        3030
          Argentina      6.9                        2000
          USSR           6.5                        1900
          Germany        4                          1164
          Romania        3.4                        1000
          South Africa   3.2                         944
          Portugal       2.9                         845

What are the grapes grown, & in what proportion?
Details will be given asap on this one.