2019 is a special year for South Africa. First after the abolishment of Apartheid, all 20 million citizen of South Africa could enjoy the first democratic election and voted for the first black President Nelson Mandela which meant a new page of Democracy for South Africa. At the same time it is the 360 Anniversary for South African wine.
TheOldest “New World”
South Africa has been classified as a New World wine country even the first bottle of wine was made in 1659, 360 years ago. If you want to trace back the history of winemaking, you could referred to the oldest scrolls talking about wine from Persia in 7,000 years ago, B.C. 6,000. It reached over Europe, north Africa, Pan-Asia, India and China in the following centuries, and vineyards covered most of the Europe in B.C. 100. Following the explorer route in the sixteenth century, European bring vines to different places, including Asia, South America, and South Africa as well. As early as 1655, there were records about vineyards plantation in Cape area, and the first South African wine in 1659.
Over the last 360 years, the industry went through waves, marked by the Phylloxera disaster in the late nineteenth century, where most of the vineyards were devastated. After that high yield, low quality grapes are planted and the quality fell a lot. Until the twentieth century, the quality has been steadily raised. But global market had very little knowledge about the wines due to apartheid as most modern countries refused to import commodity from South Africa. Only after South Africa became a democratic country in 1994 after Mandela became president. The wine industry picked up again. With advance in technology, technique, and the input from “Flying winemkaers”, overseas investments, The wine quality has obvious improvement and caught the world attention again.
踏入二十一世紀，前人努力建立的基礎得以取得成果。更重要的是，新一代的釀酒師為南非葡萄酒業注入更多生氣。而作為現時南非葡萄酒的代表品種，Pinotage及Chenin Blanc正受更多專業人士，侍酒師、餐飲業界的認同，而且也發展出不同風格及定位的葡萄酒。而南非的釀酒師及葡萄農也在開發不同的產區，為這些產區定位，默此我們現在在南非能找到優秀的沒爾多混釀酒款、隆河谷葡萄酒款，優雅的Pinot Noir、Chardoonay等清涼氣候葡萄酒，還有南非獨有的MCC氣泡酒等等。踏入民主之路第二十五年，這三百六十年的釀酒之旅也同未有停止步伐向前。
Stepping into the 21stcentury, the work from the past is gaining fruitful results. More importantly new generation of winemakers are more dynamic and giving more energy to the industry. As the most representative grape varieitals from South Africa, Pinotage and Chenin Blanc have been crafted to exceptional standards with good reputation worldwide from Sommeliers and F&B professionals. The styles and positions of these wines diversified into greater spectrum. Winemakers and viticulturists are exploring new regions for different style of wines. We could find great Bordeaux blends, Rhône varietal wines, and even elegant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from some cool climate regions. Not to mention the unique sparkling wines of MCC. With the advance of democracy in the past 25 years, the South African wines also take on the right track again after 360 years of history.