Tuesday, 22 May 2012 18:21

S. Africa

In keeping with the spirit of renewal in the South African wine industry, 40% of the vineyards in recent years were replanted as the industry realigned its product to compete globally, moving from volume production to noble cultivars and quality wines.

South African vineyards were once dominated by white grape varieties but the predominantly red new plantings shifted reversed that trend. 
Noble varieties which have been cultivated increasingly in the past few years include Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, which produce top-class white wines, and Shiraz and Pinot Noir. Although most of the vine varieties cultivated here were originally imported, up to now six local crossings have been released. The best known of these is a red variety, Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Hermitage (Cinsaut).

Grape varieties in South Africa are known as cultivar with many common international varieties developing local synonyms that still have a strong tradition of use.These include Chenin Blanc (Steen), Riesling (until recently known locally as Weisser Riesling, Crouchon (known as Cape Riesling), Palomino,(the grape of the Spanish wine Sherry known locally as "White French"),Trebbiano (Ugni Blanc), Semillon (Groendruif) and Muscat of Alexandria (Hanepoot).

Chenin blanc has long been the most widely planted variety, still accounting for at close to one-fifth of all grape varieties planted in South Africa as of 2009, though it is slowly decreasing in overall share of vineyard area.

  Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Pinotage have risen to prominence with Cabernet Sauvignon being the most widely grown red grape variety covering 12% of all plantings in 2009. Other red grape varieties found in South Africa include Carignan, Gamay, Grenache, Pontac, Ruby Cabernet, Tinta Barroca, and Zinfandel.

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