This was one of the first grapes introduced to South Africa, but suffered the misfortune of being mislabelled as Weisser Riesling. In 1656 it was also known as Groenblaarsteen (green leaf steen), Cape Riesling and Paarl Riesling. The true noble Riesling was introduced in 1664. And only in the 1950’s did Christiaan Johannes Orgger determine that different varieties were grown under the name Riesling. Since 2009, Crouchen Blanc is no longer permitted to be labelled as Riesling. It is mainly grown in Breedekloof and Paarl with roughly 725 hectares reported (as of 2010).
It originates from the western Pyrenees in France but is virtually extinct in France as it’s so susceptible to powdery mildew as well as downy mildew. It is now associated with Australia (Clare Riesling) and South Africa (Cape Riesling). In SA it’s mostly planted in Breedekloof, Paarl and Stellenbosch where the dry climate helps combat fungal disease.
Interestingly, the Australians imported the grape from South Africa as Sales Blanc in roughly 1850 and it was subsequently mistaken for Sémillon. It was grown in the Barossa and Clare Valleys, where it got the name Clare Riesling after Clare Valley. Only in 1976 was it identified by Paul Truel, a French ampelographer. It is mainly found in Murray Darling and Swanhill in New South Wales, and Riverland in South Australia.
In Spain the grape is grown in Basque country (País Vasco) alongside Courbu Blanc and Noah – all three of these varieties are called Hondarribi Zurra.
Also known as:
Across the globe, the grape is also known as Basque, Cheri Cerratia,, Cougnet, Crochenta, Crouchen Blanc, Cruchen, Cruchen Blanc, Cruchenta, Cruchenton Blanc, Grand Blanc, Kaapse Riesling, Messanges Blanc, Navarre Blanc, Paarl Riesling, Riesling, Riesling Vert, S. A. Riesling, Sable Blanc, Sales Blanc, Trouchet Blanc, and Zurizerratia.
On the vine:
The vine grows vigorously but doesn’t produce many bunches. The bunches are medium sized with green berries susceptible to botrytis, powdery mildew, downy mildew, rot and sunburn.
In the bottle:
Guava + nectarines + ripe yellow apples + citrus + herbs + thatch + geranium + honey
Drink now, not suitable for further ageing beyond a year
Theuniskraal Cape Riesling
Pale lemon with a green hue and specks of gold. On the nose: grass, lime, green apple, guava, nectarines and light florals. These repeat on the palate. It’s a simple wine with a short finish, but the crisp, dry, light body had me craving a pickled octopus salad…with the high acidity probably able to hold its own against a dressing.
First launched by Andries Jordaan in 1948, it won a gold two years later at the Commonwealth Wine Show against international competitors.
Hand-harvested at 20° to 21° Balling from the middle to the end of February, mostly from pre – dawn early morning. Each vineyard block was individually vinified. The juice received no skin contact and was cold-fermented in stainless steel tanks at 14°C for a period of 14 to 21 days. [source: Theuniskraal.co.za ]
The first thoughts that come to mind are a spicy Durban curry. And Pickled fish at Easter time is an inspired idea. Ultimately, it’s similarities to Riesling make this an excellent food pairing wine. It’s light body makes me crave a salad. And the high acidity would hold up well to a dressing, so don’t hold back. The winemakers also suggest soft cheese. So bring on the cheese and fruit platter.
Find the Wine:
Other wines to try: