Written by Clifford Roberts; Photographer: Johan Viljoen
South Africa makes great rosé wine, but to make sense of the many options available it helps to consider them by region. Rosé wines from a particular area such as the Swartland, share overlapping characteristics. By knowing them you can make a better choice about good rosé wines you’d like to try.
Background to South African rosé
South Africa has a rich history of winemaking, with farming of vineyards dating to the 17th century. The climate at this latitude and available terroir provide ideal conditions for growing high-quality grapes for wine production.
The occurrence of rosé in South Africa however is relatively new. The popularity of the style is even newer with the rise as wine-lovers have become familiar with the style and the diversity and quality of these wines have improved.
What makes Swartland rosé different?
- Culture: Winemakers of the Swartland have a reputation bigger than most for pushing boundaries. This means that wines are rarely boring and there’s always something new and interesting on the boil. Examples to try include Allesverloren’s Tinta Rosé, AA Badenhorst’s Secateurs Rosé and Pulpit Rock’s Pinotage Rosé.
- Diversity: Winemakers of the region often engage in experimentation and an expression of individuality without sacrificing quality. An enjoyable reference is the Blanc de Noir by Swartland Winery or Pinotage rosé by the Riebeek Valley Wine Co.
- No grand entrances: Many wineries announce themselves by the size of their entrance gates. You’ll find none of that in the Swartland, where authenticity and approachability keep the wine experience interesting. A visit to Wightman & Sons and Org de Rac – both makers of organically-farmed rosé, is one of the ways to illustrate this best.
- Terroir: It’s impossible for terroir where grapes thrive to be replicated because terroir is an environment created by nature. Each place has its variations of which soils and compositions are the most obvious. This makes the Swartland completely unique.
- Climate: Likewise, climate affects fruit production and the Swartland is ideal for cultivating healthy grapes. The region’s climate is also among the most closely related to some of the world’s most renowned rosé producing regions, such as France’s Provence.
The experience of Swartland rosé
Significantly, the diversity of Swartland rosé wine means there’s wine to suit whatever occasion or dish. Of course, many will satisfy that most popular use of rosé – for something light, delicious and refreshing on a hot day. But there are those, which most certainly pair well with food and are guaranteed to be conversation starters.
Here, you might try Intellego’s The Sleeping Co-Pilot and Elementis. While often mistaken for rosé because of their off-white colour, these are actually orange wines – wines that get their colour from oxidation rather than blending or grape skins.
What food goes with Swartland rosé?
As to what food to serve with Swartland rosé, the same is true for most versions wherever they’re from. Most commonly recommended are light salads, seafood, grilled vegetables, and soft cheeses.
Its acidity often complements spicy cuisine too.
Best rosé wine in South Africa
In conclusion, the South Africa rosé wine has really taken a leap in the past few years. As a result, wine buyers now have numerous wines to choose from. It’s an impossible task to pick the best of these, so shopping by region is a good start. Among these, Swartland has arisen as one of the regional champions. Its wines are certainly worthy of pouring and raising a glass as a toast to South African rosé!