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The Best Articles on Bordeaux Wine

Best Wines from the Paarl Valley - Cape Town

Paarl is situated just over fifty km from Cape Town and the superb wines are so popular that Paarl Tourism is booming with international and local wine lovers. The vineyards of Paarl are distributed across three main types of soil. In the area along the Berg River they are grown in sandy soils of Table Mountain sandstone origin - while in the town of Paarl and the surrounding lands they are planted on granitic soils. The third soil type is of Malmesbury shale origin and the vineyards planted in the north-east grow mainly in this kind of soil.

Simonsvlei wine estate

Set against the foothills of the magnificent Simonsberg Mountains, this estate has been honoured at the highest levels for the quality of their wines. The Paarl area is renowned for its high quality Shiraz wines and even though Simonsvlei focus on a combination of terroir and grape varietals, they have the added bonus that Paarl's terroir is perfectly suited to Shiraz production. They plant their Shiraz on the eastern slopes of the valley in order to promote optimum photosynthetic activity. This activity is the determining factor in the accumulation of sugars and flavour components. Aromas inherent to Paarl Shiraz are spicy; resembling cloves, green peppers, smokiness and rich ripe plums. This grape is also known as Syrah. It makes a soft and rich wine often characterized by smoky and chocolaty aromas. It matures faster than cabernet and is sometimes blended with it to speed accessibility.

Pinotage-the unique South African grape

On an almost equal footing to Shiraz regarding the production is Pinotage; the only true South African grape varietal. In the cooler parts of the valley the grapes tend to have more floral flavours, whilst the Pinotage planted in the warmer areas bear more berry or plum aromas. It is a unique South African grape made from a cross of pinot noir and cinsaut. It is hardy in the vineyard and generally produces a wine that is full bodied with good fruit flavours and a distinctive spiciness. It is often referred to as possessing a "sweetish acetone" flavour. Previously thought to be early maturing, it is now believed that Pinotage benefits from extended maturation.

Award-winning wines
Simonsvlei was established in 1945 on the initiative of a group of leading grape farmers. They were determined to provide the area's farmers with the facilities and expertise to produce quality wines. This vision has been fulfilled and quality, affordable wines have become characteristic of Simonsvlei who now export wine to a wide range of countries, amongst which Germany, Sweden and Denmark are the biggest. Simonsvlei was the first regional cellar to be crowned with Superior awards for red (1973 Cabernet Sauvignon) and sweet wine. More recently the Hercules Paragon range earned double gold, and gold at Veritas and Michelangelo's as well as Silver at the International Wine Challenge.

De Zoete Inval-family wine estate
Another wine estate in the Paarl region that has superb credentials is De Zoete Inval; a shining example of the Boland's traditional family estate. The Frater family has been making wine here for more than 115 years. Today, the fifth generation on the estate continues to produce fine wines of singular character - an art developed through 3 centuries.

Here tradition sets the pace with the tasting room being managed exclusively by a family who offer personal attention, opinions and advice, and good value for money; especially when it comes to well aged Cabernets. De Zoete Inval was originally granted by Simon van der Stel in 1688. Robert Frater arrived here in 1878 to find the original cellar (which today houses the tasting room) and vineyards in production on the farm. For many years, Port was made here for KWV. One of the farms' highlights was winning the General Smuts trophy for the grand champion wine of the South African Wine Show in 1955. Cabernet Sauvignon was planted on quite a big scale and with some pre-1920 vineyards, dry red wines have been produced on De Zoete Inval. More Chardonnay has been planted and some interesting white wines are now made which last five to six years. New planting of Shiraz, Merlot and Petit Verdot were planted in August 2001.

Cabernet Sauvignon - A South African specialty
Wine Recommendations include the medium-bodied Shiraz, Maiden release of De Zoete Inval Estate's second label, Eskdale. This medium-bodied juicy red has upfront cherry and raspberry flavours, followed through by hints of spice and vanilla, ending with a racy finish. The Cabernet Sauvignon 1980 is an Old Clone Cabernet Sauvignon fermented dry in open fermenters - matured and bottled with old-style earth/tobacco whiffs, dry sweet and sour tannins with a menthol-like finish. Most of the great red wines of Bordeaux and some of the finest wines of the New World are based on Cabernet Sauvignon. It is often blended with Cabernet Franc and Merlot and its flavour is reminiscent of blackcurrants or cedarwood. It demands aging in small oak barrels, and the best wines require several years of bottle age to reach their peak.

About the Author

Oak Tree Lodge is ideally situated for tourists in search of a memorable Cape Town winelands stay-over. While stocking up on your favourite Shiraz, Pinotage or Cabernet; why not stay at this renowned Cape Town Guesthouse/Boutique Hotel in Paarl. The beautiful garden setting - enhanced by mature oak trees - provides the perfect ambience in which to sit and imbibe from your cache of superb wines.

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