The Other Cape! Wines of S. Africa

/ Updated on May 31, 2014

One of the oldest Southern Hemisphere wine regions in the world is Stellenbosch, just 33 miles east of Cape Town. Stellenbosch is in a hilly region of the Cape Winelands, sheltered in a valley at an average elevation of 446 ft., flanked on the west by Parrot Mountain and Stellenbosch Mountain to the south. To the east and southeast are the Twin Peaks- Drakenstein and Simonsberg Mountains. The terroir range from dark alluvium to clay. Well-drained and hilly, making for perfect viticultural conditions of the Mediterranean climate.

350-plus years ago, the Dutch East India Company planted the region’s first vines. During the decades that followed, they continued to develop farms as a source of wine and produce to take on lengthy seavoyages to the East Indies and Europe. French Protestant refugees began arriving in the late 1680s, bringing viticultural finesse. However, under 20th-century apartheid, government restrictions and trade embargoes stalled South Africa’s wine industry. But the 1994 dawn of democracy ushered in a new era for the nation’s wine makers. International-style wines from Chardonnays to Cabernet Sauvignons now find a wider global market alongside South Africa’s signature grape: The Pinotage.

Two of our customer favorites at Teller Wines are the Jardin family Chard and Cab, and the Barista Pinotage. The Pinotage grape is only grown in South Africa. A truly indigenous variety you might say. The Barista Pinotage is a real gem of smooth coffee and mocha undertones, ripe berry, truly “smooth & structured” (and that’s where you will find it on our shelves). Judicious oaking leaves your mouth craving chocolate! Our customers can’t get enough at $14.99 a bottle.

We also love the Jardin Chardonnay & Cabernet. Gary and Kathy Jordan have been making world-class wines since 1993 on a farm with a history going back over 300 years. He’s a geologist, she’s an economist – together this California-trained husband and wife team is a winemaking phenomenon. Gary’s parents bought the 146 hectare Stellenbosch property in 1982, and embarked on an extensive replanting program, specializing in classic varieties suited to the different soils and slopes. The result is wines that combine the fruity accessibility of the New World with the classic elegance of the Old.

It is no surprise that you’ll find the 2010 Jardin Chardonnay here at Teller under “Luscious & Complex” for its supple tropical and citrus fruit flavors, notes of hazelnut and a buttery toastiness on the finish. 90% of the grapes were barrel fermented in French oak and aged “sur lie” (leaving the yeast in) for 9 months while the other 10% was fermented in stainless steel to retain the citrus flavors.

The 2008 Jardin Cabernet Sauvignon is classically “Big & Concentrated.” Perfect for drinking now, but can be cellared for another 3-5 years. Both Jardin wines are a real value at $24.99.

Now let’s get busy making some lamb confit, wild mushroom tarte tatin with truffle cream, or salmon Niçoise to go along with these fine wines!

Catherine Hester

About the Author

co-owner of Teller Wines in Lewes, DE with her husband Kevin, is a world traveler and shares their adventures at various wineries while offering thoughts on why she and Kevin order particular wines for their customers. Learn more about the Hesters by clicking here. View all articles written by Catherine Hester

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