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WSET ® Level 3 Wine > South Africa > Flashcards

Flashcards in South Africa Deck (46)
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The majority of South Africa's vine growing regions lies between which 2 latitudes?

32° - 35° south of the Equator

These latitudes were updated in 2022 per the WSET 3 addendum.  Know that the former latitudes were 27° - 34°, which are found in the textbook.


Generally, the climate of South Africa is ___.


If not for a fortunate combination of mountains, winds, and ocean currents, most of South Africa would be inhospitable to viticulture.


What is the name of the ocean current that helps make viticulture possible in South Africa?

The Benguela Current, a cold ocean current which flows up from the Antarctic.

Fun Fact: This current is caused by powerful southeasterly winds which blow the surface waters away from the sub-continent, forcing cold water to rise, or upwell, from great depths that don't receive any sunshine.  From South Africa the current flows northwards, up the west coast of Africa, towards the equator. 


What is the name for the series of summer southeasterly winds that help make viticulture possible in South Africa?

The Cape Doctor, which are strong, cool, southeasterly winds that blow through False Bay up to Cape Town and further inland. 

Fun Fact: It's called the "Cape Doctor" because it sweeps away all the air pollution produced by traffic and industry in the city.


South Africa has several mountain ranges that run throughout the wine regions.

What are the mountains' effects on viticulture?

  • different altitudes
  • different aspects
  • different site climates
  • different soils
  • valley floor warmer
  • rugged terrain can cast shadows over vineyards, creating cooler spots


What is the most widely planted grape, of either color, in South Africa?

Chenin Blanc

South African wine regions have taken so well to Chenin Blanc that it is now more widely planted in South Africa than it is in France.


What is the second most widely planted white grape in South Africa?


Colombard is not widely used in still wine production in South Africa, but plays a significant role in South African brandy production.


What is the most planted red/black grape variety in South Africa?

Cabernet Sauvignon


What grape variety, rarely seen outside of South Africa, has become a flagship for South Africa?



What are the parent grapes for Pinotage?

Pinot Noir and Cinsault

Cinsault was formerly known as Hermitage, especially in South Africa. The name 'Pinotage' is a combination of 'Pinot' and 'Hermitage.'


What is Hanepoot?

What is it used for?

The South African name for Muscat of Alexandria.

Used for late-harvest sweet wines.

Fun Fact: Hanepoot means "hen's feet" in Afrikaans, referring to the claw-like appearance of the stems in the grape bunches.


What is South Africa's Geographic Indication (G.I.) system called?

The Wine of Origin (W.O.) system.


What are the four different production area designations under the Wine of Origin scheme according to size?

From largest to smallest they are:

  1. Geographical Unit
  2. Regions
  3. Districts
  4. Wards


What are the requirements for a South African wine to be labeled as an Estate Wine?

  • The wine itself must come from a single estate;
  • The estate's vineyards must be within a single geographical area;
  • The wines must be made on the estate's premises all the way up to and including bottling.


What is presently the most important Geographical Unit in South Africa?

The Western Cape

The Western Cape is important as a wine appellation as it allows producers to blend the best parcels of grapes from widely different areas.


The Western Cape accounts for what percentage of the South African wine market?


> 90%


Outside of the Western Cape, where is the majority of South African wines made?

Orange River, an independent ward in the Northern Cape Geographical Area.

The Orange River is known for bulk and everyday wines that are not often seen outside of South Africa.


What District has long been the heart of production for fine wine in South Africa?



What geographic features contribute to the success of Stellenbosch’s fine wine production?

Stellenbosch’s unique combination of varying elevations, aspect/vineyard placement, soil composition, and geological history all create a unique terroir for its wine production.

It's because of this diversity that Stellenbosch district has so many wards.


Stellenbosch is known for producing red wines from which grape varieties?

Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (the latter two used to make Bordeaux blends).

Cape red blends are often made using these grapes.


Stellenbosch successfully produces white wines from what grape varieties?

Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc


What large, important district of South Africa is located north of Stellenbosch?


see map on p.161 of the textbook


The Paarl region makes red wines from what grape varieties?

Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Pinotage


Paarl is known for its white wines made from which grape varieties?

Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay


Paarl tends to be warmer or cooler than Stellenbosch?


  • Warmer
  • Further inland
  • Fewer effects from oceanic influence


Which Ward in the Western Cape has some of the region’s oldest vines?



Constantia’s oldest vines are situated on the east side of what mountain?

Table Mountain


Constantia is known for producing very good still white table wines from which grape variety?

Sauvignon Blanc


The cooler sites of Constantia specialize in which grape varieties?

White grape varieties, especially Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.


The warmer sites in Constantia are planted to what grape varieties?

Red/black grapes, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.


Constantia’s famous dessert wine, Vin de Constance, is made from what grape variety?

Late harvest Muscat


The Cape Doctor constantly cools the vineyards of which ward?



Which district in South Africa used to be viewed just as a place that made bulk wines but in recent years has changed its image to become a more quality-centered wine region, especially for its white blends?


White blends from Swartland are often Chenin Blanc-based wines with Rhône varieties such as Marsanne, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, and Viognier added.


Swartland has built its new reputation based on which grape varieties?

Old vine Chenin Blanc and Syrah


Swartland’s best vineyards are known for practicing what viticultural technique?

Dry farming (no irrigation)


Thanks to the Atlantic Ocean's cool breezes, the Darling district has become successful in growing which grape variety?



Sauvignon Blanc


Which ward in the Tygerberg district is known for its undulating geography, cooling sea breezes, and Sauvignon Blanc?

Hint: it's north of Cape Town.

Durbanville ward


Which district in Breede River Valley is known for growing grapes destined for distillation?

Which grapes here are used for distillation?

District: Worcester

Grapes: Chenin Blanc and Colombard



Worcester's climate is so hot and so arid that viticulturists have to use ___ in their vineyards.


The water is drawn from the Breede River.


How does the climate of the Robertson district compare to that of the Worcester district?

Robertson is slightly cooler because it receives southeasterly winds, and because of this it is emerging as a higher quality wine growing area.


Robertson district is known for producing quality wines from which grape varieties?

Syrah and Chardonnay


Which 2 districts in Cape South Coast have reputations for being cool areas, and what are the features that cool them?

  1. Walker Bay - sits right on the Atlantic Ocean and receives direct, cool sea breezes;
  2. Elgin - has some ocean influence but also has some dramatic elevation.


Hemel-en-Aarde Ward has built a reputation as being a producer of some of South Africa’s finest wines made from ___ and ___.

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir


What grapes perform best in the Elgin District?

Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are best suited for Elgin's climate as well as some Chardonnay and Syrah.


Which ward of South Africa is located at the southern tip of the Western Cape?

Elim ward, which is in Cape Agulhas district


Elim is gaining a reputation for crafting which two grape varieties?

Flinty, pungent Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah (sometimes labeled as Shiraz).