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Southern Hemisphere

South Africa

  • South Africa is another wine producing country that is often lumped together with Australia and New Zealand in the southern hemisphere group. Although there are similarities, there are important differences as well.

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  • One similarity with New Zealand is new popularity of Sauvignon Blanc. This wine from South Africa has been getting an increasing amount of attention, but it is not the most widely planted white grape, that honor goes to Chenin Blanc. Some of the Sauvignon from South Africa is delicious. Most of the best comes from the Coastal Region, and particularly from the districts of Constantia, Stellenbosch and Paarl.

    Less favored wines come from high-yielding vines infected with viruses that can prevent full maturation, leaving both red and white wines with vegetal, green and unripe flavors and aromas. Lesser regions include the Breede River Valley, containing the Worcester and Robertson regions, Olifants River Valley and Klein Karoo.

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  • The one grape for which South Africa is best-known is Pinotage. This is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut that was developed in the 1920s. Although it has its fans, many dislike the grapes distinctive aromas.

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  • Another popular grape in South Africa is Shiraz. The climate is conducive to producing Shiraz in the Australian style, since the heat summation relatively close to Australia, and quite a bit hotter than New Zealand. The character of the fruit is accordingly riper, and the natural acidity is much lower.

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