South African Wines
The South Africans have been making great efforts to improve the quality of their wines. This started with the installation of ultra-modern equipment for fermenting white wines in a hot climate, and is now continuing with a programme of improving the health and productivity of the vines themselves.
Chenin Blanc, often called Stecn in South Africa, and tasting much less honcved than the Chenin Blanc of the Loire, is the most popular white wine. Most whites are left slightly spritzy to make them seem crisper and very few are designed for a long life. There have been some excellent sweet Rhine Rieslings, though Cape or Paarl Riesling is a much less distinguished grape. The South African wine industry, based in the hinterland of Cape Town, has been slow to import cuttings of those two white grapes so fashionable elsewhere, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
Cape reds are soft and have a certain warm minerally flavour, though they tend to brown after only a couple of years. Cabernet Sauvignon, as elsewhere, here shows its versatility as a top-quality grape, although Pinotage, supposedly a crossing between Pinot Noir and the Rhone grape Cinsaut, is an ultra-fruity local speciality.