First Cape is the leading wine brand from South Africa. Created in 2002, it’s now the 9th biggest wine brand in the UK, and has a wide range of still and sparkling wines, whose popularity have helped develop South African wine sales in the UK. South Africa is now the 5th in the leader board of sales by country in the UK, and accounts for about 6% of total volume.
First Cape is a brand which was created by 3 Englishmen, who had worked in the UK wine industry for a number of years, and set out to work with a number of South African wineries to create a unique South African brand in the UK.
Originally working with 38 wineries in South Africa, all of whom, had some ownership in the brand, they launched First Cape, and have never looked back. Their vision was to launch a joint venture between UK and South Africa, engaging cooperatives and smaller wine growers to build a strong brand for the UK market.
The fact that there is joint ownerships gives the growers and producers a deeper sense of involvement and they strive harder to work on quality and style, as they are part of this brand and project.
What started as an idea with 38 growers involved, has now grown into the largest South African brand in the UK. Today, there are 5 South African co-operatives who are shareholders in the brand, and over 200 wine farms grow for the brand.
With its roots in South Africa, the brand has now expanded, with a number of different sub brands, and is producing wines from 6 countries – South Africa, Australia, Italy, New Zealand, Romania and USA.
It aims to bring a world of flavours to the UK, and has also just launched a lower alcohol range of wines at 5.5%.
First Cape are heavily involved in rugby sponsorship and will be sponsoring the British Lions rugby tour to Australia later this year.
What Styles Of Wine Do FirstCape Produce?
First Cape produce a wide range of wines, under different names, or sub brands, to bring the best of their styles to the UK. The heart of the brand is in South Africa, and the style is smooth, fruity with lots of upfront fruit and a soft, refreshing finish.
Winemakers’ Selection – a deliciously easy introduction to the brand, with a fruity red, white and Rose; juicy, lively fruit and an easy drinking style.
First Selection – a range of wines from the key stakeholders in the First Cape project, including zestily fresh Sauvignon Blanc, smooth and creamy Chardonnay, strawberry scented Shiraz Rose, spicily fruity Shiraz and the more intense, yet soft and blackberry infused Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon – all fruit driven, juicy, easy drinking styles.
Limited Release – this range is created from specially selected parcels of wines, from the key South African stakeholders in the project, and cover a wide range – Sparkling brut and Rose; Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay; Shiraz rose; and then explore the reds with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and the traditional Pinotage.
Presidents’ Selection – the top notch selection, an intense and apricot scented Chenin, and a rich and spicy Shiraz Cabernet.
Discovery Series – here the brand moves out of South Africa, and aims to bring the best of varietal character to the wine. There’s a lively, floral, peach fruit Pinot Grigio from Romania, to partner up with a fleshy, red-fruit juicy and spicy Merlot, also from Romania, plus a chocolate spice and blackberry Shiraz from Australia.
Lighter style – First Cape have recently launched a range of lower alcohol drinks, blending wine and fruit juices, at 5.5% alcohol. The range includes Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and White Zinfandel, in both 75cl and 50cl, with the same varietals available as sparkling.
Matching First Cape Wines With Food
The First Cape range of wines covers many different styles, but overall, they are fruity, upfront styles that go with most types of food. The Lighter range, with only 5.5% alcohol, are great for lunchtimes and picnics.
Here are some suggestions:
Chenin Blanc – the traditional white grape variety used in South Africa, the wines are fresh and very fruity – great with pork with apple sauce, fish with ginger and garlic and barbecued chicken.
Chardonnay – the rich, tropical fruit flavours work well with buttery roast chicken, creamy fish dishes, and soft cheeses.
Sauvignon Blanc – fresh, zesty, with a gooseberry, herbaceous edge, these refreshing wines work with seafood, Indian and Chinese dishes, and fresh salads, such as goats cheese or tuna.
Pinot Grigio – light, fragrant, and easy drinking, lovely on its own, or delicious with delicate salads, seafood pasta, grilled fish, and light styles of risotto.
Shiraz Rose – a bowlful of strawberries and raspberries, and very fruity, yet dry; a great match with either salmon, tuna, or even better with Indian spiced fish.
Cabernet Sauvignon – smooth, ripe and full of blackcurrant flavours, great to go with roast beef, roast lamb, and spicy Mexican food.
Shiraz – big, bold, velvety wines, with lots of black fruit and spice, look no further than steak or a spiced up barbecue selection to fit the bill.
Shiraz Cabernet – will pretty much go with all of the above as well!
Merlot – soft, fleshy and juicy, great with stews, pies, sausages and barbecues.
Pinotage – the traditional red grape variety of South Africa is a softer version than many in the First Cape wines, with ripe, raspberry, smokey aromas and flavours. Great barbecue wines, and also work well with stews and casseroles.