The drought gives Cape’s wines subtle notes of extravagance
The 2018 harvest is expected to fall by 15%, but the reduced quantity has improved the quality and flavour profile of the wines — and their prices
The drought in the Northern and Western Cape provinces is billed as the worst on record, with Cape Town residents forsaking baths in favour of 90-second showers. At least the wine is getting better.
Drier weather meant fewer pests damaging vine leaves in the world’s eighth-biggest wine producer and the warm temperatures helped boost the quality of the 2018 vintage, according to Vinpro, which represents 2,500 wine producers and cellars in the local industry of R36bn annually.
Varietals ranging from sauvignon blanc to pinotage, a local hybrid of pinot noir and hermitage (also known as cinsaut), have benefited.
"Greater variation between night and day temperatures during the ripening stage gave the colour and flavour formation a further boost, which are indicative of remarkable quality wines," Vinpro said.
Still, the three-year drought has left a toll. The harvest is expected to fall 15% to 948-million litres, resulting in an estimated 8% to 11% increase in prices.
For consumers around the world who enjoy the 20-million glasses of South African wine drunk daily, that may be a price worth paying.