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Vintage in South Africa is primarily used to denote the year of harvest and is not a quality classification (as is the case with a ‘vintage’ port in Europe, where it means one from an officially declared great year for port grapes). Vintage year can be indicated if at least 85% of the wine consists of wine produced from grapes harvested during the year indicated.


The decade from 1970 to 1980

Overall a good vintage with some exciting wines. Hot dry weather gave sound grapes with good sugars, but low acids.

The driest and also warmest winter since 1926. February conditions were warm and wet and resulted in high incidence of botrytis which in some areas developed into noble rot. March was dry and cool so late-ripening reds showed rather well.

Another cool wet winter followed by rains in March and April which kept sugars low. Considered overall to be a vintage of good quality and quantity.

A cool winter which was followed by a wet spring and a poor berry set. The harvest was troubled with rain and extensive downy mildew damage resulted. The Cape Riesling crop was small but produced some excellent wines. High acids benefited all whites and gave red a very French character, although they generally lacked colour.

A long, cold winter with late rains and snow. The vintage took place in almost ideal conditions and all cultivars produced good quantity and quality.

A fairly dry vintage with an exceptionally hot February that resulted in whites of very low acid; late rains tended to spoil the late-ripening reds especially Cabernet. The largest crop since 1971.

A very dry year. The consistent warmth produced high sugars and is considered by many as the outstanding vintage of the decade for reds. In general the whites suffered, although some Steens proved exceptional. The overall crop was down in quantity owing to poor setting conditions in the spring.

A small crop in which downy mildew gave problems and rain affected the late-ripening reds. It is generally considered that the whites of this vintage were better than the reds, although some Cabernets showed well.

Another hot, dry vintage and one was acclaimed as being one of our greats - exceptional for reds and Cabernet Sauvignon in particular.

A large crop and at the time generally considered to be of average quality.

A hot but wet vintage. Early rains affected the early-ripening Pinotage. Conditions were ideal for later-ripening red varieties such as Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.