The quality and diversity of SA white wines is unique. Most of the best examples are produced within 100km of Cape Town, an area significantly smaller than Bordeaux, where only two white cultivars hold sway. The effect on climate of two ocean currents — one equatorial, one originating in Antarctica — on the relatively small land mass is partly what makes possible the production of world-class chardonnay, chenin, sauvignon blanc and sauvignon/semillon blends, among others. In France, the prime regions home to the same four varieties are separated by the breadth of the country. To drive from Beaune via Rochecorbon to Bordeaux would take a day, even on the French autoroutes, and you would traverse more than 800km. The mere idea that SA is a source of white wines that compare comfortably with the best of the Old (or New) World would have been considered incredible, if not outrageous, 20 years ago. In the early 1990s the late Pamela Vandyke Price, a distinguished British wine writer, pro...

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