Winners were revealed last week at Blaauwklippen Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. Held under the auspices of the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group of South Africa (SBIG) with sponsorship provided by FNB, this year attracted a record number of 207 entries (compared to 195 in 2012).
The 2013 FNB Top 10 Sauvignon Blanc competition winners are:
· Alexanderfontein Chip Off The Old Block 2013
· Boschendal Reserve Collection 2013
· Cape of Good Hope Altima 2013
· Cape Point Vineyards Reserve 2012
· Cape Point Vineyards Woolworths 2012
· Franschoek Cellar Statue de Femme 2013
· Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2012
· Nederburg Private Bin D234 2012
· Phizante Kraal 2013
· Thelema 2013
I was one of the five judges who worked their way through two days of extensive tasting followed by a ‘taste-off’ of the top 37 wines on day three. All the wines were tasted blind throughout and the whole process was audited to ensure there could be no bias. The second round of tastings yielded a top 20 finalists, and ultimately the Top 10, were determined.
What were we looking for?
Most importantly – balance between fruit and acidity, and the winning wines had that in abundance. “An extraordinarily enjoyable line-up to taste,” said Carrie Adams of retailer Norman Goodfellows and fellow panel member. “Even stronger than last year,” said Richard Kershaw MW of Richard Kershaw Wines, who officiated on the panel both this year and in 2012. “The wines at the top are fantastic and there’s a really broad band which is above average.”
A range of styles
What was particularly interesting was the range of styles – not all of which were liked equally by all the judges! There was much debate about whether greener (pyrazine-derived) flavours should prevail over tropical fruit (thiol-derived) flavours or vice versa, with some judges favouring one style over the others. We also looked for texture, depth, length of finish and concentration of fruit, many of these aspects provided by extended lees contact. However consensus on the top wines was pretty near unanimous, proving that a good wine is a good wine, whatever style it’s made in.
One final debating point was the discussion about whether there should be two separate awards for terroir-specific wines and multi-regional wines. Of the top 10 wines, six are single-property wines (Alexanderfontein, Cape of Good Hope, the Reserve from Cape Point Vineyards, Nederburg, Phizante Kraal and Thelema) and the other four are multi-regional blends. The general feeling was that this would be a good thing, not diminishing either type of wine, merely celebrating differences and using the competition to try and improve communication of the variety to the drinking public.
It’s to be hoped that this might come into effect for future years!