bordeaux lips and rosy cheeks
One of the days we were in Cape Town, my friend and I decided to venture out to the smaller hillsides outside the city to experience a little bit of the wine culture. South African wine, as you may know, is growing in prominence. And though we were only able to make it to Stellenbosch and the Fraanschhoek Valley in Paarl, I had fallen for the crisp whites and velvety reds the regions exposed me to. So, a little rundown of my day plus a bit of background on South African wines just for you…
Our tour was organized to visit select vineyards that gave us a review of the region and the specialized wines. From 24 samples to endless little bits of cheese and fruits, there was an array of grapes that South Africa produces. Bold reds and sweet sparkling whites and everything in between. The Western Cape, where we visited, is most prominent in wine production as it sits at 17th in terms of area planted with vines and with its massive production of a huge variety of wines, South Africa is considered one of the top 10 countries in wine production.
We visited Stellenbosch, located just 45-kilometres east of Cape Town, housed between mountains and valleys. The climate parallels that of Bordeaux making it perfect to product some of the best reds and dense whites in the country. My favorite was the Pinotage, but the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are the most prominent of the region. At the peaks of the mountains, vineyards also specialize in Chenin Blanc.
Our last vineyard visit was in Paarl in the Franschhoek Valley. The autumn leaves had made their appearance, the grass damp, and the air brisk and humid. The soil though, was quite pungent, which I knew meant for an incredible selection of wine. Most of the selection in Paarl is vintage since winemaking expertise were brought over from the French Huguenot Settlers. Their full-bodied and flavored wines in incomparable to that of the world.
South African wine has a long history of specializing in fortified wines, which are more sweet and almost “syrupy”. Though not my favorite, they sit among the favorite of some of my friends. Perfect for a cold winter day after a hearty meal. The ports, closely parallel their Portuguese counterparts, are made from a variety of grapes and cherries blended with fragrant spices and aged in woods.
Pair Cape ports with desserts or after meal savories. Your cheese platter should include gorgonzola, fourme d’ambert, almonds and dried fruits. Ports from South Africa should be the center of attention, so paired deserts should include semi-sweet chocolates, red fruit or chocolate mousse and fresh cherry pie.