Despite the label ‘New World’, South Africa’s wine history stretches back over 300 years with the legendary Vin de Constance the favourite tipple of such notaries as Napoleon and Frederick the Great. Despite this proud heritage the country suffered, first biological attack from the Phyloxera louse, then political setbacks as the Apartheid government isolated them from international markets and investors stifling any progress. The soul had been driven out of the industry and producers concerned with quality were in the minority. The last 20 years however have seen a dramatic winemaking revolution as investment poured in and South Africa has been propelled one of the most exciting modern wine making countries in the world.
A new breed of young, travelled and experimental winemakers are pushing the boundaries, experimenting with terroir, grape variety, viticultural practices and winemaking techniques and have forged an impressive reputation for the quality of their boutique wines. Though boasting their own unique varietal in Pinotage, it is perhaps the quality of their Shiraz, Chardonnay and increasingly their Chenin Blancs which is winning them most acclaim.
The Western Cape boasts a patchwork of micro climates and soil types ideally suited to the production of some really exciting and diverse wines, with new premium areas coming into play all the time. In broad strokes the winemaking areas of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl boast an enviable reputation for classical red French varieties, Robertson is gaining renown for its white wines, Swartland for its Rhone varietals, the cooler coastal regions of Constantia and Walker Bay for their exceptional cool climate Pinot’s, Chardonnay’s and Sauvignon Blancs while the mountainous Cederberg region is home to South Africa’s highest vineyards supporting just one winery.
Leading the way in sustainable farming, virtually disease free by virtue of its isolation and sitting at over 1000m above sea level, the Nieuwoudt family have been farming this land for 5 generations. Exceptional not just in its beauty, but in the quality of their wines, Cederberg Cellars are producing Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Chenin Blancs and Sauvignon Blanc with an elegance, purity of fruit and minerality that has set them apart from other South African producers. Cederberg is rightly a consistent trophy winner at the Decanter International wine awards.