South African Wine:  Cool Breezes + Upwelling = Outstanding Sauvignon Blanc

We enjoyed the comprehensive zoom talk and wine tasting lead by Jim Clark of Wines of South Africa which was hosted by the San Francisco Wine School. We thoroughly enjoyed all the 10 refreshing Sauvignon Blancs! You can check out the tasting note here. By the way, great price points.

The wines tasted were from the Western Cape Province. There are five wine regions here and we focused on the Coastal Region and Cape South Coast. These happen to be prefect locations for the cool climate Sauvignon Blanc.

Interesting that the current off the western coast of South Africa is the Benguela Current which is actually a warm current. This begs the question: where is the cold ocean air coming from? The cool ocean waters are generated by upwelling. We will briefly discuss this while trying not to get too geeky.


The wind and associated Benguela Current move from the south to the north along the west coast of South Africa. However, atmospheric conditions turn the winds away from the coast. So now the surface winds are now blowing away from the coast and the winds drive the water away from the coast. Then this water is now replaced with cold ocean water from 600 feet (200 meters) deep. The net result shown in the map below is the cold water (blue color) off the South African Coast. These currents are 14 F (8 C) cooler compared to some other coastlines at the same latitudes.  Interesting there is a similar upwelling process that cool waters off the California coast which is a prefect pairing for cool climate grapes grown there. Pinot Noir of course.


So after this meteorological discussion you can enjoy these Sauvignon Blancs with a better understanding of the climate that makes them possible.

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