Grape varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Pinotage, Shiraz
Style – Hugely varied
While Paarl (meaning pearl) can′t boast the same number of high-class wineries as neighbouring Stellenbosch in the south, tucked into its many nooks and crannies are several extremely fine producers who are making wine of excellent quality. Much of Paarl is warm and flat, but there are also higher hillside vineyards and adjoining valleys, the most famous of which is Franschhoek.
This is a region of innovation, where as well as more mainstream varieties, Charles Back′s range includes Mouvèdre, Carigan, Zinfandel and Gamay. It is also home to the massive KWV, which, having relinquished its role as South African wines governing body, is now concentrating on producing some extremely fine wines under the Cathedral Cellars label, as well as improving the cheaper wines
THE PAARL TASTE
It´s generally warmer here than in regions closer to the coast, so the wines tend to be more weighty and less refined than in Stellenbosch. However, there is a world of difference between the arid, sandy soils of the valley floor and the granite slopes of Franschhoek, where Pinot Noir grows well.
This huge variety in both terroir and styles of winemaking means that both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot can vary from light and slightly rubbery to something which could be mitaken for Bordeaux.