10 Spectacular Sauvs for Summer

6. October, 2012

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With Summer approaching fast and as wine lovers are hopping from warming reds to thirst-quenching whites, we begin to look for those handful of truly exceptional wines to tantalize our taste buds.

 And what is more refreshing than a good South African Sauvignon Blanc?

Is your mouth dry all of a sudden? Mine too. But don’t despair, on Thursday, the 13th of September, the names of the FNB Top 10 Sauvignons originating from very different producing areas including Cape Agulhas, Breedekloof, Cederberg, Darling, Durbanville, Elgin, Langeberg-Garcia and Stellenbosch were announced.

Five qualified judges had the arduous task of tasting the 195 entries, and, from these, selecting only the crowning twenty wines, and finally the final 10 victors, who best reflect the qualities of a true South African Sauvignon Blanc. These deserving winners were presented their awards by the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group of South Africa (SBIG), with sponsorship provided by FNB, after a spectacular ceremony hosted at Nitida Wine Estate in the Durbanville Wine Valley.

“The fact that the ten winning wines gives a clear indication that South Africa’s great diversity of macro and micro climates allow for a broad range of Sauvignon Blanc styles.” says judging panel chairperson and highly regarded wine writer, Christian Eedes.

Judges, under the chairman, Christian Eedes, were Erika Obermeyer, winemaker at Graham Beck and chairman of SBIG, Mark Norrish, General  Manager wine division of Ultra Liquors, Richard Kershaw MW of Richard Kershaw Wines and Miguel Chan, Group Sommelier Tsogo Sun Hotels.

This event was cleverly planned and executed with the top twenty wines having been divided into four groups according to their flavour profiles. Each flight was organised into different styles according to the judges’ determination. These groups were then expertly paired with four different courses designed by Cassia’s award winning chef, Warren Swaffield, at Nitida Wine Farm. All whom attended this prestigious award ceremony had an opportunity to tastes these different grouping categories and the skilfully constructed dishes they had been paired with, as well as having a go at deducing which of these twenty wines could be the privileged frontrunners in the competition. I guessed six out of 10 correctly – go me!

The winners of the FNB Top Ten Sauvignon Blanc Awards (in their flavour groupings and with their paired course) are as follows:

Tropical & Yellow Fruit – Lush, tropical flavours and aromas of papaya, guava, banana and pineapple coupled with stonefruit, like apricot, peach, nectarine, and some citrus elements. These wines also present some floral notes, such as orange blossom and geranium.

Food Pairing: Rolled chicken fillets filled with olive and feta, served with avocado salsa.

Winning Wines in this category:

• Simonsig Sunbird 2012

Cellar price: R60

73% Stellenbosch, 27% Darling. Delicate citrus character on the nose and palate. Crisp acidity, pithy finish. Made in a lighter style.

• Neethlingshof Single Vineyard 2012

Cellar price: R65

100% Stellenbosch. Lots of tropical fruit on the nose and palate. Good concentration and thick texture offset by bright acidity.

• Clos Malverne 2011 

Cellar price: R84

100% Devon Valley, Stellenbosch. Lime, yellow apple and white peach on the nose and palate. Rich and full with moderate acidity. The finish is long and savoury. Has real presence.

• Du Toitskloof 2012

Cellar price: R32

Western Cape (96% Breedekloof). Overtly fruity – lime through tropical fruit – on the nose and palate. Plump and juicy, bright acidity. Cleverly done.

Flinty & Mineral – More austere, lean flavours and aromas such as gunflint, river pebbles, steel and smokiness, coupled with earthy undertones of mushroom, damp earth and the smell of rain falling on a dirt road.

Food Pairing: Proscuitto parcel with goat’s cheese and asparagus drizzled with fresh tomato dressing.

Winning Wines in this category:

• Lomond Pincushion 2011

Cellar price: R110
100% Cape Agulhas. Rich and full with first signs of development. Intensely flavoured with notes of lime, tangerine and white pepper. Thick textured, bright acidity.

Blackcurrant leaf, Elderberry & Oak influence – Fragrant aromas and flavours of blackcurrant leaf, passionfruit, granadilla, cassis and mulberries, but also yellow apple, tangerine and a bit of herbal notes. Wooded examples show spicy flavours and aromas imparted by extended contact with oak barrels.

Food Pairing: Grilled salmon & petit pois risotto

Winning Wines in this category:

• De Morgenzon DMZ 2012

Cellar price: R70

57% Stellenbosch, 29% Durbanville, 14% Elgin. 5% fermented and matured in barrel. Rich and full with wide range of flavour including white pepper, lime, apple and green melon. Concentrated fruit matched by tangy acidity.

• Diemersdal MM Louw 2011

Cellar price: R165

100% Durbanville. 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Semillon. Fermented and matured for nine months in 500-litre oak barrels. Rich and full with notes of tangerine, spice, honey and vanilla. Great intensity of flavour, tangy acidity, smooth texture.

Spicy and Herbaceous – racy flavours and aromas, such as capsicum, paprika, fresh and canned asparagus, tinned peas, grass, nettles, English gooseberries, tomato vine, celery and green herbs.

Food Pairing: Thai marinated fish cakes served with minted lime sorbet.

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Winning Wines in this category:

• Driehoek 2012

Cellar price: R95

100% Cederberg. Clean and pure with fresh acidity. Excellent flavour intensity including lime, grapefruit and some herbal bite. Long, dry finish.

• Virgin Earth Pepper Tree 2012

Cellar price: R50

100% Langeberg-Garcia. Citrus blossom, some gravel-road dustiness and lime on the nose and palate. Clean and fresh before a long, dry finish – a particularly elegant example.

• Groote Post 2012

Cellar price: R68

100% Darling. Broad spectrum of aromas and flavours from herbal to tropical fruit. Rich and ripe with moderate acidity – generous and rewarding.

An FNB Top 10 Sauvignon Blanc pack, including one bottle of each of the winning wines, will be sold through the Wade Bales Wine Society in limited quantities, as some of the wines in the Top 10 were produced in very small volumes.

A big congratulations to all of the top ten winners and a well-done to Nitida and Cassia Restaurant for hosting such a spectacular event. I will most certainly be sipping these award-winning Sauvs this summer.

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