Generally speaking, we drink Sauvignon Blanc far too young. Several farms released their 2011’s back in March or April, which gives them no time to settle and get their acts in gear. Now is about the right time to start thinking about 2011’s but that doesn’t mean that older Sauvignons can’t give just as much pleasure. Here’s my list of the top ones which have crossed my path recently, some freebies, others I paid for, all of them delicious.
Flat Roof Manor Sauvignon Blanc Light 2011 R38 from major retailers
I’m not normally big on ‘light’ wines, believing that in general, when you strip the alcohol out, you also lose much of the taste. But this one was okay. It really was. And if that sounds less than enthusiastic, please re-read the first sentence! It had good Sauvignon character, didn’t have too much sugar (often what happens with other light wines) and was light, fresh & fruity. Worth a punt.
Sauvignon.com Sauvignon Blanc 2011 R43 from major retailers
This is the innovative project from Diemersdal Sauvignon-supremo, Thys Louw. Now in its second vintage, the idea is to register a brand name and then to make a Sauvignon anywhere in the world all under the same label. Very clever and very, very lovely wine – perfectly integrated acidity, fruit and alcohol – you’ll struggle to find better for the price.
Zorgvliet Silver Myn Sauvignon 2011 R40 from cellar door
This is technically the second label of Zorgvliet – but there ain’t nothing second-rate about this! Neil Moorhouse, quite apart from being one of the most voluble and personable winemakers around, makes really good wines at good value prices. This is zesty and lively with plenty of citrus fruit and a green apple 'twing' at the end.
Boschkloof Sauvignon Blanc 2011 R54 from selected retailers
is a first from the predominantly red wine family-run outfit in
Stellenbosch. Winemaker Jacques Borman crafts big, full-bodied reds as a
norm, but this is a great little summer quaffer with pleasing low alcohol
(12.4%), lots of tropical notes and well-integrated acidity. Nice one!
La Motte Sauvignon Blanc 2011 R60 from cellar door
La Motte takes full advantage of its buying power to get the very best grapes from a quite astonishing 8 different regions. 40% of the grapes are organic and winemaker Edmund Terblanche would very much like to increase that proportion if he could. This is a great Sauvignon, offering plenty of depth of flavour, a nice rich mid-palate and a crispy, zesty finish. And there’s no mark-up on cellar door price in their restaurant as well – score!
It’s no coincidence that these last two wines from an earlier vintage are also the most expensive. Not only do you have increased storage costs, but in order to make a wine with enough depth of flavour to lay down for 18 months, you need to use uber-concentrated grapes from older vines which produce less fruit in the first place. This is the case here and I completely recommend both these wines to anyone who likes extra layers of flavour.
Diemersdal Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2010 R96 from selected retailers
Thys Louw is making some of the most exciting sauvignons in South Africa and they come at all levels and prices. This comes from a single site in Durbanville, from 25-year old vines on south-facing slopes and is balanced and almost salty-savoury in its intensity. Citrus fruit and a creamy finish make for a delicious wine.
Constantia Glen Sauvignon Blanc 2010 R100 from selected retailers
The key to this wine’s success is the addition of 13% Semillon – less than 15% and you don’t have to declare it on the label. Winemaker Karl Lambour believes that this adds lots of richness to the wine and also increases its ageability. It’s full of exotic lemongrass and fennel notes with ripe tropical fruits and an elegant acidity.