Top 20 unusual South African Grape Varietals by Sommelier Higgo Jacobs

Higgo_jacobs-sommelier

Higgo Jacobs

A law graduate from Stellenbosch, Higgo was lured into the wine industry after his studies, and what was meant to be a sabbatical ended up as a way of life.

Certified with the Court of Master Sommeliers, Higgo consults to various establishments; judges on wine competitions and publications locally and abroad, and tries his hand occasionally at writing.

Grape varietals outside of the norm are increasing in popularity not only in South Africa but in the large marketplaces all over the world. Often the growth in sites planted to these different varieties do not merely stem from trying something alternative, but from the necessity to grow crops more suitable to climatic conditions (increasingly warm and dry). Adversity brings opportunity and diversity, it seems. Exciting for the adventurous palate.

In many cases, we find that regions are returning to grape varieties more traditionally or historically associated with the respective areas before producers joined trends in planting the more globally generic (or so-called ‘noble varieties’), more marketable at the time. It is also important to note that although varieties like Harslevelu & Grüner Veltliner may seem very exotic to us, they won’t be to Hungarians and Austrians respectively.

Below follows my list of whites from these less common grape varieties that I find exciting enough to raise eyebrows and compete with the best, even if only for their personality and interest. Along with the wines we mention the country where the variety receives the most recognition.


Austrian Varietals


Diemersdal Grüner Veltliner

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French Varietals


Patatsfontein ‘Patatsblanc’ Colombard

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Micu Narunsky Wines ‘La Complicité’ Colombard

Bellingham The Bernard Series Whole Bunch Roussanne

The Foundry Roussanne

B Vintners Muscat D’Alexandria

Craven Clairette Blanche

Maanschijn Easy, Tiger Grenache Gris

Leeuwenkuil Vineyards Marsanne

Stofberg Vineyards Mariëtte Pinot Blanc

.


German Varietals


Overgaauw Sylvaner

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Cederberg Bukettraube

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Hungarian Varietals


TESTALONGA EL BANDITO Harslevelu


Italian Varietals


Morgenster Vespri Vermentino


Spanish varietals


Newton Johnson Albariño

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Adi Badenhorst Family Vineyards Palomino

Barren Sands Palomino

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Blackwater ‘Pleasure Garden’ Palomino


Portugese varietals


Arcangeli Feiteiras Verdelho

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Stellenbosch Vineyards Credo Verdelho

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