White wine from South Africa: always a pleasure
They cover just over half of the Cape Winelands: white grape varieties. The most popular and most frequently cultivated grapes include Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. White wines from the Cape are – depending on the ageing and growing region – fruity and fresh or elegant and full-bodied. In any case, they make the hearts of white wine lovers beat faster.
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White wine is grown almost everywhere in the world. Over 50 percent of the vines grown in Europe are white. This once again underlines the popularity of white wines, which have the ideal interplay of acidity, fruit and freshness. Normally, white grape varieties feel particularly comfortable in cool, refreshing wine-growing climates and need less heat and light to fully ripen. But even in warmer regions, such as South Africa, winemakers manage to produce absolutely top wines from the preferred grape varieties Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. South Africa's unique climatic conditions provide the grape variety with sufficient heat, but also with the necessary cooling from fresh winds blowing in from the Atlantic. These winds are also called "Cape Doctor", because they are not only important for cooling the vines, but also keep the plants away from pests and diseases.
While South Africa is particularly specialised in Chenin Blanc, Germany is the wine country of choice for Riesling. Besides the Riesling star, Müller-Thurgau and Silvaner are also very popular in the wine world. The wine regions of Burgundy and Champagne in the north of France are the flagships for Chardonnay, which is the most widely grown grape there respectively. In Italy, the grape variety Verdelho is the pioneer, while in Spain Arièn is cultivated most often.
Production and storage life of white wines
After harvesting the berries, the grapes are also pressed in white wine production and a pulpy mass of skin, pulp, seeds and juice is produced (the so-called mash). Now the mash is left to stand so that aromas, colourings and tannins can be extracted. When the mash is pressed, yeasts are added to the must (juice) which convert the sugar into alcohol. This fermentation process then takes place either in steel tanks or in oak barrels:
Ageing in steel tanks: The advantages of steel tanks are that the wine can ferment undisturbed, without external influences. While the yeast from the skins starts to work and converts sugar into alcohol, a lot of heat is generated. With the help of steel tanks, the temperature can be optimally cooled down to about 16-18 degrees. The tanks, which are easy to keep clean, hardly allow any oxygen in, so that the white wine ends up particularly fruity, fresh and crisp.
Maturing in wooden barrels: In contrast to steel tanks, a wooden barrel is made of living material. This means that wooden barrels have small permeable pores, allowing oxygen to penetrate. Due to the influence of oxygen on the wine, preserving and aromatic substances unfold. The wine in the wooden barrel also needs a longer time to mature, as the absorption of tannins from the wood takes longer. White wines that have been matured in wooden barrels are more complex and acquire a creamy to melting character. Special aromas of caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, banana, roasted aromas or cedar notes unfold.
How long a white wine can be stored depends on its acid, alcohol and sugar content. The more of them are present, the longer the white wine can be kept. For white wines from steel tanks, a shelf life of 1 to 3 years can be expected, while oaked white wines with high acidity can be stored for 3 to 6 years. This is also due to the fact that the wine has already had contact with oxygen through the wooden barrel and thus becomes more resistant. As far as the ideal drinking temperature is concerned, a distinction is also made here between light white wines, which are drunk at around 8 to 10 degrees, medium-heavy white wines at 10 to 12 degrees and full-bodied white wines at 12 to 14 degrees.
White wines from South Africa: Chenin Blanc and co. reinterpreted
Chenin Blanc is one of the oldest grape varieties in the world. The grape variety originated in France in the 9th century. In the meantime, Chenin Blanc, also known as "Steen", has risen to become the national grape of South Africa, as the special climate produces unique aromas of stone fruit or pineapple. The grape variety Sauvignon Blanc is not only the most popular white wine variety in the world, but also indispensable in South Africa. It is also particularly appreciated when blended with Sémillon, which is an excellent Cuvée partner with its full-bodied structure and well-integrated acidity. South African white wines are elegant, fruity and crisp.
Well-known wine-growing regions in South Africa for white grape varieties are Stellenbosch, Walker Bay, Paarl or Franschhoek. These wine regions offer sufficient rainfall and cooling. The Neethlingshof Short Story Collection The Six Flowers evokes South African flair in the glass. The white wine blend was matured in French oak and comes up with great aromas of kiwi, lychee and green asparagus. A great representative of the national grape is the Zevenwacht Chenin Blanc. Its grapes come from vines that are over 40 years old. The low yields of the old vines, are a feature of the highest quality and help the wine to have a balanced character. The Klein Constantia Wine Estate, on the other hand, is located in the unique wine-growing region of Constantia, which, with its particularly close soil conditions and proximity to the Atlantic, creates ideal conditions for white vines, especially Sauvignon Blanc. This is also reflected in the Klein Constantia Sauvignon Blanc, whose full-bodied character is rounded off by a wonderful minerality.
White wines are not only particularly good to enjoy pure, they also pair excellently with a variety of dishes. Powerful white wines suit pan-fried asparagus and Parma ham with hollandaise sauce. In addition to typically light dishes such as salad or seafood, white wines can also be particularly great with creamy versions, such as a pan-fried trout in an orange-dill-butter sauce or penne in a creamy chicken-cream sauce.