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Tales from South Africa: Falling back in love with Sauvignon Blanc
Having spent my first two days in South Africa in regions that specialise in Sauvignon Blanc (Elgin and Constantia) it won’t greatly surprise you I’ve been drinking a fair bit of it. The greater surprise, as someone who has become Sauvignon-weary is how much I’ve been enjoying it.
Partly of course it’s the weather which - I hate to rub it in - is gloriously hot and sunny, temperatures at which Sauvignon hits the spot perfectly. But the style, particularly in these premium regions seems also to have become much more refined: less grassy and herbaceous, more elegant and rounded.
Having tasted with a number of Elgin producers in what resembled a speed-dating session (15 minutes with each producer) it seems many are picking later and also adding a percentage of semillon to their wines. Some are also holding on to their wines longer before releasing them - the 2012s were particularly attractive - and of course the vines are also 4 or 5 years older since I last visited the region - all adding up to much more rewarding drinking. Because these are cool regions they also don’t need to add acid to the wines, as they are often forced to do in a warmer region.
I’ll be trying to unscramble my notes over the next few days but particularly liked the sauvignons from Corder, Shannon (Sanctuary Peak) and the 282 from Elgin Ridge, the one producer I actually managed to visit. (And not just because they are Brits . . . )
We also swung by a very swish food and wine festival (right) at Buitenverwachting in Constantia, called Fresh, which draws in top producers from other regions. A relaxed afternoon on the lawn so not really an occasion for note-taking but I did particularly like the Beaumont Hope Marguerite Chenin Blanc from the Bot River. £15.95 from vincisive.co.uk.
Good to see so many pinots served nicely chilled too . . .
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