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May 22, 2010

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Hi Julia

Many South African restaurants, including Belthazar, offer French Champagne.

The first vines were planted in 1655.

Cape Blend is a technical term that requires a 30% Pinotage component - those expensive ones on the Helderberg were most likely Bordeaux-style blends.

Several supermarket chains import Spanish, Portuguese and French wines. I suspect you were dining in tourist restaurants, hence the focus on South African.

Best wishes

Neil, thanks for your comments.

I certainly did not mean to imply that non-SA wines are unavailable to South Africans - if that were the case, their support of local wine would be far less impressive! I saw international wines in many stores and a few restaurants. (I'm not sure what you consider to be a "tourist" restaurant, so I can't speak to that - I was a rather impoverished cellar intern at a wine farm in Stellenbosch, so I usually ate at whatever local pub or cafe I could afford.)

Coming from New York, where one or two local wine selections on a menu is exciting, I was delighted at the wide local selection in SA. I wanted to make it clear that the support for local wine in SA is a choice, not a forced circumstance.

Cape Blend or Bordeaux Blend, my point there was that SA wine drinkers don't just drink local wines because they're cheap. (My understanding, on a side note, was that the term "Cape Blend" implies but does not legally require a pinotage component, usually 20%-30% of the blend. But that's neither here nor there.)

As for the date, you caught me. :) I'm a big fan of your blog.

Cheers, Julia

... sure NY could sell wine for $4 a bottle, IF we forcefull depopulate the best farmland of its inhabitants, then pay them a pittance (or many times nothing at all) to work the land.

the way I see it, there are three types of wine / wine producing regions in the world. Imperial, Communist, and Free.

"Imperial" wine producing regions, like South Africa and much of Latin America, have vast (thousands of acre) estates planted and huge population of poor rural people for labor, legacies of their colonial past.

"Commie" wine regions, for instance much of California / Oregon / Washington, are basically places that for one reason or another would not naturally support vineyards, except through massive state intervention and subsidization ... aka the fact that much of the "best" vineyard and orchard land in Washington is actually in a desert, irrigated by a massive state-sponsored construction projects, and farmed by laborers from Mexico brought over by a goverment program (yes so NY tax dollars, through federal programs, help subsidize things that in the long run hurt the NY fruit industry).

Then their are the "free/real" wine regions, like france or the east coast USA, where the land and climate natually support the growing of grapes, and the producers work reasonably sized plots of land them selves and pay their workers at least a mimimum wage of $8.50/hr. It is only from these regions that you, the actual consumer of the bottle of wine, actually pay for its contents entirely.

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