New York (Finger Lakes)
Although South Africa is regarded as a New World wine producer, the first grapes were pressed for wine at the Cape in 1659 under the command of Jan van Riebeeck. He had come to the Cape in 1652 to establish a settlement on behalf of the Dutch East India Company. Vineyards were planted more extensively a generation later, when the French Huguenots began arriving from 1688 onwards, fleeing religious persecution.
Another impetus for the freeing up of the industry was South Africa s return to international trade after decades of isolation under apartheid rule. With political reform and the advent of democracy in 1994, there was an influx of financial and intellectual capital into the wine industry. Locally trained winemakers began traveling to other wine-producing countries, to study abroad or work in the cellars of leading winemakers in the Old and New World.
Viticulturists began playing a far more prominent role and producers became keenly aware of the need to focus on noble cultivars, to use superior plant material and also to match varietal with terroir, in the process discovering and developing new winegrowing areas. They also began adopting techniques to better express specificity of site in flavor profile. At the same time, producers began developing a knowledge about international markets, and the needs and demands of consumers.
So, it is fair to say that the modern South African wine industry is a little over a decade old and has had to catch up very fast. Despite this, at the start of this decade, South African wines were receiving positive attention in international markets and notably earning prestigious awards at events such as the International Wine & Spirit Competition in London, Vinexpo in France and Mondiales in Brussels, as well as on other Office Internationale de la Vigne du Vin (OIV) events.
Riesling is a very small variety for South Africa.
Stylistically, South African wines have been said to occupy the middle ground between Old World and New. Structured for elegance and food compatibility, they nevertheless express prominent varietal flavors. As South Africans positively embrace their diversity of soils and climate this will be reflected in increasingly distinctive and complex wine.
What is unique is that South Africa has soils which are millions of years older than any other wine growing region in the northern hemisphere, thus allowing for greater variety. Many of the viticultural and oenological practices are similar to those in France and Germany as many of South Africa’s leading producers have studied in Europe.
South Africa has a strong Indian influence as part of its history, and Riesling is the perfect partner for these dishes ranging from biryanis to masalas.
PAUL CLUVER – Paul Cluver Wines is a family owned and family run winery, focused on producing wines that reflect the uniqueness of the cool-climate Elgin terroir, about 70 km southeast of Cape Town, South Africa. The family is proud to have pioneered the Elgin appellation and for being seen as a leader in the sustainable farming. The wine business forms part of larger holistic farming business called ‘De Rust Estate’, which forms part of the UNESCO world heritage site, the Kogelberg Biosphere. CLUVER.COM