We’re always looking for the next big thing…
And unless you’ve been living under a comfortably-shaped rock (especially if you’re on our website reading this blog), you should have heard about the Swartland Revolution by now. Over the past 15 years, the Swartland region has grown in stature and complexity and today there is a respected mixture of quirky, cult wines and large-scale international success stories flowing out of the ‘black land’ valley.
With Swartland having firmly established itself on the map, South African wine drinkers are looking to discover the next big wave, and so enters our region of the moment: Darling.
Located just 65 kilometres north of Cape Town, Darling is a coastal wine-producing district in the Coastal Region of the Western Cape of South Africa. In recent years, it has started producing some truly exceptional (and award-winning) white and red wines, and people are starting to sip up and take notice. Interestingly, Darling was separated from Swartland in the Wine of Origin scheme in 2003, after a consensus that the wines produced here were distinctive enough to merit acknowledgement.
So, what makes this area so special? Besides the cinematic beauty of the rolling hills and oceanic landscapes, the region is an easy 11kms off the Atlantic coast. If you read our recent Coastal Region blog, you’ll know that being near the ocean for vines is beneficial, as with the ocean come early-morning fog and cooling afternoon winds, which the vines so desperately need in times of drought, or simply typically hot South African summer days.
The soil is not of the highest quality, and with rainfall quite low, growers have adapted to planting bush vines, which is a win for us wine drinkers, as the fruit from bush vines is generally more concentrated, which leads to greater complexity in the final wine.
How Climate Influences Cultivar
Thanks to the moderately dry climate, Darling lends itself to the production of unique, cool-climate style wines made from predominantly Sauvignon Blanc (especially bush vine!) and Shiraz wine grape varieties. Although, in recent years, Mediterranean-style varieties are making a turn, with blocks of Chenin Blanc, Verdelho and Sangiovese popping up if you look carefully enough, as well as old stalwart favourites such as Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Coming Of Age
In the past, Darling was left to its own devices, with many large-scale growers producing bulk wine that was sent abroad or blended into more ‘cheap and sweet’ blends.
Yet, within the last decade, and perhaps inspired by their hipster Swartland neighbours, smaller production is coming to the fore. And this is fantastic news for the region, as it attracts new age wine drinkers who are hunting for something different, delicious and still accessible. As other wine regions premiumise, Darling is one area that still offers incredible value for money.