It’s Summer, it’s silly season, it’s time for Sauvignon Blanc. Most people are onto the 2016 vintage (NOW is the time to switch over, not 10 months ago, by the way!) and the wines are looking very good indeed. Enjoy – and keep drinking them for the next 6-8 months 'cos they’re only going to get better. Here’s a round-up of ones which have recently come my way.
Rietvallei Burger Family Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2016 R45
A new range from family-owned Rietvallei in Robertson brings great affordability and lashings of flavour to the table. This is a nice little wine, unpretentious and unpretentiously-packaged with quite a bit more oomph than you might expect at a sub R50-price. Several picking tranches ensure a wide range of flavours all packed together into one very toothsome and moreish fruit salad of a wine.
Altydgedacht Sauvignon Blanc 2016 R79
Although this is 100% Sauvignon, it actually comes from 7 completely different vineyards which is a fabulous way of introducing complexity and interest into a wine. It comes from Durbanville winery Altydgedacht and is a really well-made example of how you can add character to what can sometimes be a one-dimensional grape – lovely pure green fruit flavours underpinned with a lap of tropical and more than a hint of citrus.
Muratie Melck’s White 2016 R90
I love my kid as much as the next mum, but I think there is a time and a place for kids and I’m not sure it has much to do with bottles of wine. A charming drawing by the Melck daughter, Isabella, has traditionally-adorned this range but that has now been substituted with a much simpler, classier and grown-up label which is a great improvement. The wine still tastes good – Muratie’s wines always do – with lashings of green-edged tropical notes and well-balanced acidity. And now it looks good as well.
Backsberg John Martin Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2016 R96
A light kiss of oak is the signature trait of this wine – and this year, the kiss is incredibly subtle but very effective nonetheless. The wine only spends a few weeks in old oak barrels but subsequent time on lees in tanks adds to the richness and complexity without confusing the zippy fresh green and yellow fruit with too much over-done oak. Wonderfully-balanced, great wine with food.
Waterkloof Circumstance Sauvignon Blanc 2015 R100
The first release of a fully-certified biodynamic wine from this Helderberg estate where the grapes are grown high on the slopes of the windy Schapenberg mountain. What’s biodynamic? Kind of an extreme version of organic which works very much in harmony with nature, the idea being to produce uber-healthy grapes. Does it work? Well, the wine is delicious – vibrant and tangy, quivering with loads of citrus fruit and white flowers so I’d say ‘yes’, it probably does!
Constantia Glen Sauvignon Blanc 2016 R150
2016 is shaping up to be a pretty good vintage for whites, particularly Sauvignons which managed to hang on the vines for a bit longer than normal, ripening the fruit to perfection. That’s what’s happened here, leaving a wine with plenty of soft stone-fruit flavours as well as a lively natural acidity. 5% of Semillon does nothing but good, adding in a hint of herbaceousness and a tad more breadth on the palate.
WATCH: You're drinking your Sauvignon Blanc too young!
- Cathy Marston