Wines: South Africa

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Wines: South Africa

After much political turmoil South Africa is experiencing a rejuvenation in the wine business, returning to producing some of the world's finest wines including the once heralded dessert wines of Constantia. With most of the coastal region's vineyards lying within 30 miles of the sea the vines benefit from a Mediterranean climate but which is tempered by the cool Benguela current from the Atlantic Ocean. Chenin Blanc, or Steen (its local name), is still the country’s most popular grape and although planting have declined considerably over the last couple of decades it still constitutes 18% of the country’s vines. International varieties such Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc have trembled over the same period and now represent 12% and 10% of all vines respectively. Pinotage, the Cape's own crossing of Cinsault and Pinot Noir, saw a huge rise in popularity during the 1990s and has now reached a steady 6%. Shiraz on the other hand has been the most recent grape to take root, nearly doubling between 2000 and 2007. South Africa's style has often been referred to as combining the restrained subtly of the Old World with the accessible fruit driven styles of the New. Choice however can be somewhat limited with only a mere 1 in 25 bottles exported reaching the US, due to the UK, Europe's thirst.