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WSET ® Level 3 Wine > South Africa > Flashcards

Flashcards in South Africa Deck (45)
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South Africa lies between which 2 latitudes?

32° - 35° south of the equator.*

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

*Revised in 2021 from 27º - 34º south of the equator.


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).


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