Bukettraube – Developed in Germany, produces quality wines with a distinctive Muscat bouquet. South Africa is one of the few wine-producing countries worldwide to bottle Bukettraube as a single varietal wine.
Cape Riesling (Crouchen Blanc) – The variety was wrongly regarded for many years as Weisser Riesling (Rhine Riesling) but was later identified as the Crouchen Blanc of France. A shy bearer which can produce quality white wines with a delicate yet fruity bouquet and sharp grassy aroma, if growth and ripening conditions are ideal.
Chardonnay – A native of Burgundy, this variety’s widely planted throughout the New World. Locally, much experimentation has been taking place with barrel fermentation and oak ageing of Chardonnay, and excellent wines are being produced. It is also used in some of the base wines from which Cap Classique sparkling wines are made.
Chenel – A local cross between Chenin Blanc and Ugni Blanc which produces a white wine of reasonable quality.
Chenin Blanc (Steen) – The most widely cultivated variety in the Cape, growers are raising the standard to new levels. Characterised by its versatility, Chenin Blanc produces good natural wines covering the whole spectrum from sweet to dry, as well as sherry and sparkling wine. Its fruitiness finds favour with a wide range of palates. It is also used for distilling brandy and spirits.
Clairette Blanche – Although it is seldom used as a single variety, its presence is essential in many of our light, fruity wines – unusually low in alcohol and acid content.
Colombar(d) – Planted especially in the Breede River region, this variety produces a quality wine in the warmer areas. Good acid content ensures fresh, interesting wines with a pleasant fruity flavour.
Emerald Riesling – A relatively new variety from California which made its commercial debut in 1981. The wines are flavourful and fruity.
Gewürztraminer – A prominent spicy flavour and taste; usually produces a light, off-dry wine.
Muscat d’Alexandrie (Hanepoot) – One of the world’s most widely planted and versatile varieties, locally it was probably developed from ‘Spaanse dryven’ (Spanish grape) cuttings introduced to South Africa by Jan van Riebeeck in the 1650s. Nowhere else does it form such a high percentage of a country’s total grape harvest as in South Africa, where it is used especially for dessert wine, as well as natural wine and raisins. Hanepoot delivers a strong, flowery bouquet and intense honey flavour.
Muscadel – Used chiefly in dessert wines, it gives an intense, raisin-like bouquet and was historically associated with the famous Constantia dessert wines. Red and white grapes grow mainly in the Breede River region. It belongs to the Muscat family.
Palomino (White French Grape) – A heavy bearer, low in sugar and acid. Used mainly for making sherry and brandy. It produces a neutral wine, best enjoyed young.
Pinot Gris – Planted on a very small scale in South Africa. The wines are full and well balanced.
Sauvignon Blanc – In combination with Semillon and Muscadel these grapes produce some of the most exceptional white wines of Bordeaux, including the sweetest Sauternes and driest Graves. These wines have a distinctive green peppery or grassy character, and are often aged in wood (sometimes labelled Blanc Fumé). Extensively planted in the 18th century, Sauvignon Blanc has now regained popularity and considerably increased its share of plantings.
Semillon (Green Grape) – Produces a full yet subtle wine with little acid; often used in blends.
Ugni Blanc (Trebbiano) – Slightly neutral, thin wines which are used almost exclusively in brandy production.
Viognier – Becoming increasingly fashionable internationally, this variety has been grown for centuries in the northern half of the Rhône valley in France. An early ripener, it produces delicate complex wines with peach, apricot, honey and spice aromas under the right conditions. It is also sometimes blended with Shiraz (to a maximum of 20%).
Weisser Riesling (Rhine Riesling) – Has adapted well to South Africa’s soil and climate. Produces very full, flavourful wines with excellent fruit acids that develop well with bottle ageing. Wines have a honeyed spicy nose and a flowery sweetness.