Until about 40 years ago, blended Cape wine always sold for less than decent, well-branded, single-varietal examples. The mere mention of cultivar on the label appears to have offered a guarantee of quality. It was widely assumed that if you weren’t prepared to disclose the variety, you had something to hide.

This coincided with the time when there were very few so-called noble varieties available in the Cape. The total plantings of cabernet sauvignon and shiraz were less than 4% of the national vineyard. There was no merlot, malbec, pinot noir or cabernet franc. If a wine was sold as “dry red”, clearly (so the logic went) its components were patently “unmentionable”...

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