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The South African wine region of Overberg takes its name from its location in relation to that of the country’s capital city, Cape Town. It is ‘over the mountains’, or berg. For the past three decades, this region has been steadily establishing itself as one of the most important and finest of all of South Africa’s wine regions, thanks to the dedication of the vintners who call this place home.
Overberg owes much of its success to its altitude. The region is situated around seven hundred meters above sea level, which allows the vines to receive more hours of sunlight than those in neighboring regions. This altitude also allows for a cooler climate, and a longer ripening season which produces grapes of remarkable character and balance, which are used in the region’s distinctive and increasingly popular wines. Complex, acidic, fresh and balanced are the typical adjectives used to describe the wines which come out of Overberg, and they are a fantastic example of what native French varietals can be in new and interesting locations. The most popular grapes planted in this part of South Africa are Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc - the altitude and coolness suiting these white grapes perfectly. Red varietals are also grown there to great success, namely Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Petit Verdot.
The green skinned grapes of the Sauvignon Blanc varietal had their origins in Southern France, where they are still widely grown and used for many of the excellent young and aged white wines the region is famous for. Today, however, they are grown in almost every wine producing country in the world, and are widely revered for their fresh and grassy flavors, full of tropical notes and refreshing, zesty character. Sauvignon Blanc grapes thrive best in moderate climates, and ripen relatively early in the year. This has made them a favorite for many wineries in the New World, where they can still produce healthy and high yields in the earlier part of the summer before the temperatures become too hot. Too much heat has a massively adverse effect on Sauvignon Blanc, as the grapes become dull in their flavor, and the wine produced from them loses all its unique character and high points. As such, Sauvignon Blanc farmers have had a lot of trouble from global warming and climate change, as they are being forced to harvest their crops increasingly earlier in the year when it is cool enough to do so.
Situated on the very tip of the African continent, South Africa has proved itself over three centuries to be an ideal location for producing a wide range of wines. Benefiting from something not dissimilar to a Mediterranean climate, with long, hot summers complemented by both Atlantic and Indian Ocean winds, the grapes which grow on the valleys, mountainsides and plains of this fascinating country can ripen to their fullest capacity, producing wines packed full of fruity flavors and an array of interesting and enticing aromas. As a former colony, South Africa has long since been home to a range of different nationalities, who each brought something of their wine culture with them. As such, many European grape varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling and others have been given time to flourish in South Africa, allowing the country to develop a diverse group of wine types which are proving increasingly popular around the world.
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