Tuesday, December 13, 2011

SBIG South African Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group

SBIG South African Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group

4 November 2011

FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 Competition 2011 Tasting Report
By Christian Eedes

Was 2011 the right vintage at the right time for local Sauvignon Blanc? Hot and dry almost everywhere, the resulting wines tend to be richer and riper than usual and therefore set to appeal to a consumer base that shows the first signs of tiring of wines made to be ultra-green and ultra-acidic.

Past a point, however, the debate that has raged recently between proponents of “grassy” Sauvignon Blanc and those of a more “fruity” style is not that helpful. What ultimately matters are the issues fundamental to all wine assessment: flavour intensity, balance, length but also the relative success of the winemaker to elevate a mere agricultural product to something worthy of contemplation.

The results of the fifth annual Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 held under the auspices of the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group and sponsored by FNB reveal some interesting trends. Nine of the winning wines were from the generally under-rated 2011 vintage and only one from 2010, which does seem to play into the hands of those that insist Sauvignon drinks best when young. Even those of us who are fond of Sauvignon when a little older have to admit that most simply take on a little more richness rather than gaining huge complexity...

Of the 10, five wines were area-specific and five were multi-regional blends. Sauvignon is arguably one of the ultimate terroir wines in the sense that there is theoretically little in the winemaking process which might obscure the impact of site. Any consideration of terroir becomes difficult, if not meaningless, as soon as fruit from more than one place of origin is involved but on the other hand, blending undoubtedly facilitates greater complexity, and in a vintage like 2011, having access to vineyards across multiple regions acts as a buffer against difficult weather conditions.

In the four previous years of the Top 10, Darling, Durbanville and Elim have always featured prominently and while a lot of the wines that performed well in this year‟s competition are again made from grapes sourced from these three maritime areas, it is interesting to note how fruit from Stellenbosch plays a role in many of the wines. When very “green” Sauvignon was at the height of fashion, this relatively warmer district was unlikely to be associated with the leading wines but now that there is demand for greater ripeness, it pops up again.

Finally, consumers should be delighted (and producers frustrated) that despite the ever growing reputation of local Sauvignon, the category seems unable to ratchet up its premium in any meaningful way. The average price per bottle of the Top 10 in 2007 was R70 and in 2011, it‟s R77.

For any enquiries relating to the FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 Competition, please contact the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group (SBIG):
Pieter de Waal
Secretary: SBIG
+27 (0)83 357 3864

The FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 for 2011:

Boschendal Reserve Collection 2011 Not yet released. Cellar price for 2010: R90
40% Durbanville, 30% Helshoogte, Stellenbosch, 30% Firgrove, Somerset West. Blossom on the nose before a complex palate showing a range of flavours from citrus through yellow apple to green melon. Rich and full with tangy acidity. Drink now – 2014.
Wine of Origin: Western Cape
Alcohol: 13.71%
Residual Sugar: 3.2 g/l
Total Acidity: 6.6 g/l
pH: 3.40

Clos Malverne 2011 Cellar price: R76
Devon Valley, Stellenbosch. Flavours of apple, spice and honey. A rich and round mouth-feel counterbalanced by zesty acidity. Very good fruit concentration before a saline finish. Drink now – 2013.
Wine of Origin: Stellenbosch
Alcohol: 13.74%
Residual Sugar: 1.6 g/l
Total Acidity: 6.5 g/l
pH: 3.45

David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner 2011 Cellar price: R165
Elim. Lime as well as herbaceous notes on both the nose and palate. Pure fruit, good line of acidity, saline finish. Towards the greener end of the flavour spectrum but focused and balanced. Drink now – 2014.
Wine of Origin: Elim
Alcohol: 13.24%
Residual Sugar: 1.5 g/l
Total Acidity: 7.0 g/l
pH: 3.49

Delaire Coastal Cuvée 2011 Cellar price: R95

50% Stellenbosch, 32% Durbanville, 14% Darling, 4% Franschhoek Semillon. A complete wine with a range of flavour from paprika through lime to granadilla. Rich but balanced. Great fruit purity matched by bright acidity. Long, dry finish. Drink now – 2016.
Wine of Origin: Coastal Region
Alcohol: 13.36%
Residual Sugar: 1.7 g/l
Total Acidity: 7.3 g/l
pH: 3.30

Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Limited Release 2011 Cellar price: R95

66.6% Darling, 33.3% Cape Agulhas. Classic South African Sauvignon Blanc. Complex nose displays lime, an attractive herbal note, granadilla and gunpowder. Great fruit definition and fresh acidity on the palate. Very persistent on finish. Drink now – 2016.
Wine of Origin: Western Cape
Alcohol: 13.71%
Residual Sugar: 1.2 g/l
Total Acidity: 6.8 g/l
pH: 3.30

Franschhoek Cellar Statue de Femme 2011 Cellar price: R40

80% Franschhoek, 14% Stellenbosch, 6% Franschhoek Semillon. Quiet nose but the palate shows good fruit weight and soft but sufficient acidity. Range of flavour including green and yellow apple as well as granadilla. Drink now – 2012.
Wine of Origin: Western Cape
Alcohol: 13.39%
Residual Sugar: 3.6 g/l
Total Acidity: 6.6 g/l
pH: 3.38

Lutzville Cool Climate 2010 Cellar price: R26.99

100% Lutzville. Some pleasing development on the nose. The palate is rich and full balanced by tangy acidity. Great flavour intensity: green bean, lime, paprika. Drink now.
Wine of Origin: Lutzville Valley
Alcohol: 12.39%
Residual Sugar: 7.0 g/l
Total Acidity: 8.1 g/l
pH: 3.34

Overhex Soulo 2011 Cellar price: R45

66.6% Darling/Swartland, 33.3% Elgin. This elegant wine is generally green tinged – lime and some herbaceous aromas and flavours. Juicy and fresh before a long, dry finish. Drink now – 2012.
Wine of Origin: Western Cape
Alcohol: 12.43%
Residual Sugar: 2.7 g/l
Total Acidity: 5.4 g/l
pH: 3.48

Wade Bales Winemaker Selection Thys Louw 2011 Wade Bales Wine Society price: R49

100% Durbanville. Rich and full, this wine shows citrus, yellow apple and spice on the nose and palate. Good fruit concentration, tangy acidity. Has an appealing sweet „n sour character. Drink now – 2013.
Wine of Origin: Durbanville
Alcohol: 13.59%
Residual Sugar: 1.5 g/l
Total Acidity: 6.4 g/l
pH: 3.47

Woolworths [WHAT]? 2011 by Bergsig Estate Woolworths price: R39.95

100% Breedekloof. Somewhat shy on the nose but the palate shows intense lime flavour and bright acidity while the palate is long and very dry. Made in a lean, racy style. Drink now – 2012.
Wine of Origin: Breedekloof
Alcohol: 13.06%
Residual Sugar: 2.2 g/l
Total Acidity: 5.9 g/l
pH: 3.63

Panel: Christian Eedes (Chairperson and Independent Wine Writer)
Angela Lloyd (Independent Wine Writer)
James Pietersen (Beverages Manager)
Louis Nel (Winemaker)
Pieter de Waal (Secretary: SBIG)
Dates of tasting: 27 September to 29 September 2011 (3 days)
Venue: The Wine Cellar, Observatory
Audited by: Nico Viljoen, PKF Chartered Accountants
Tasting & coordination: Karlien van Straaten
Total number of wines entered: 169
Wines achieving 4 stars and above: 27 (16% of entries)


Backsberg John Martin Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Bergsig [WHAT]? Woolworths Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Bonnievale Cellar Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Boschendal Reserve Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Clos Malverne Sauvignon Blanc 2011
De Grendel Koetshuis Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Delaire Coastal Cuvée 2011
Delaire Coastal Cuvée 2010
Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Sauvignon Blanc Limited Release 2011
Franschhoek Cellar Sauvignon Blanc 2011
David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010
KWV Cathedral Cellar Sauvignon Blanc 2011
La Motte Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Lomond Sugarbush Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Lutzville Cool Climate Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Neethlingshof Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Phizante Kraal Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Quoin Rock The Nicobar 2009
Rietvallei Classic Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Soulo Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Wade Bales Thys Louw Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Tokara Reserve Collection Elgin Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Tokara Zondernaam Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Uitkyk Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Vergelegen Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2011