MICHAEL FRIDJHON: Surprising discovery about cabernet gives an old twist to a new story
Stellenbosch can now take the marketing gap, in geography and in time
As recently as the 1980s the SA wine industry, extrapolating from the diversity of the Cape floral kingdom, suggested that most cultivars did well on most estates. As a corollary (so the story went) pretty much every vintage was as good as pretty much any other vintage. To be fair, some of the bigger family-owned properties did have most major cultivars planted, and produced reliably solid wines in most years. Some harvests were more difficult than others — but the European experience of the 1930s, 1950s and 1960s, when half the wines of the decade were largely written off — seemed a distant universe.
Lately those responsible for promoting the various areas of origin have designed their narratives around more singular attributes. Elgin calls itself chardonnay country — even though it is home to some very good pinots and shirazes. Hemel-en-Aarde markets itself as the place of pinot, even though some of the Cape’s best chardonnays come from there. Constantia took the sauvignon b...