The least controversial observation that could be made about South African wine is that the overall quality has improved over the past 15 years. It’s only after you dig into the detail that points of dispute emerge. Is the Swartland the Cape’s saving grace? Are the prestige districts of the so-called coastal region our viticultural heartland? Does it make sense to have created the Wine of Origin Cape Town appellation? Do we value our wines and vineyards at their true worth or does patriotism blind us to their shortcomings? The list is endless — even before the debates acquire territorial or political overtones. I recently hosted a presentation of wines from four Stellenbosch estates. It was easy enough to assemble a line-up comprising two wines from each property. Each sample was world class and none of the wines a duplicate of any other on the table.During a break I suggested to Luke O’Cuinneagain – the wine maker at Glenelly – that although Stellenbosch is rightly regarded as the ...

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