Red Wine Grape Varieties In The Cape
The Cape is home to some of the most delicious and unique red wine grape varieties in the world. From dry, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon to juicy, fruity Pinotage, there’s something for everyone here in South Africa‘s Cape Winelands.
Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied wine with bold tannins and dark fruit flavours like blackberry and currant. It’s often blended with merlot or Cabernet Franc to make well-balanced wines with complexity. This grape variety is widely planted in South African vineyards, particularly in Stellenbosch, Constantia, and Paarl. Some cabs can be aged for 10 years or more if stored correctly.
Syrah, also known as Shiraz, is a spicy red wine with black pepper and floral aromas. It produces big-bodied wines and fruit forward, making it a favourite among many South African winemakers. Planted predominantly in the Elgin region of the Cape Winelands, Syrah can age up to 15 years when stored properly.
Pinotage has become one of South Africa’s signature grapes. A cross between pinot noir and cinsault (another French grape variety), pinotage produces deep ruby red wines with smoky aromas of grilled meat and dark fruit flavours like plums and cherries. Its popularity has grown over recent years as winemakers have learned how best to craft this unique grape variety into delicious wines that can be enjoyed young or aged for several years.
Mourvedre (also known as Monastrell) is another red grape variety found in the cape that produces big-bodied wines with intense flavours of dark berries, spices and leather. Mourvedre loves warm climates so it can reach its full potential in South Africa’s Mediterranean climate where it’s often blended with other grapes like shiraz or cabernet sauvignon to create complex blends that are truly unique to the cape region.
Malbec is a relatively new addition to the Cape Wineries but has quickly become popular due to its velvety tannins and intense berry flavours such as plum, blackberry, blueberry, raspberry and cherry accompanied by subtle notes of tobacco leaf or smokey spice depending on how it’s aged in oak barrels during the production process. Malbec grows best in high-altitude vineyards so it’s typically found higher up than most other varieties in the region making for interesting tasting experiences depending on where you choose to visit!
Finally, we have Grenache which is not as widely planted as others but still offers an amazing drinking experience thanks to its bright acidity and inviting aromas of ripe raspberry jam coupled with light floral notes like rose petals or lavender depending on terroir where it was grown. When blended into lighter styles of reds it can add structure while helping retain freshness making them perfect summertime sippers!