IT seems that every second bottle of white that comes my way these days is a sauvignon blanc. The grape makes up 10% of all vineyard plantings, but the percentage is growing and within a few years it could well outrank chenin blanc (steen) as our most popular cultivar.
Just for fun I took a range of promos from my shelves this week and set up a sav-blanc shoot-out with a few other trusted palates.
Here's how it went:
Secret Cellar – an Ultra housebrand that, bang for buck, is best value on the market. It's an Old Mutual trophy winner and gold medallist which won Surprise of the 2012 Show. Listed price is R39.99 but still marked down to R29.99. It is made by Glennelly Cellars in Stellenbosch.
Tokara Zondernaam– Often mentioned in Vine Time, it is world class at around R50.
Van Loveren 2011– nicely textured with subdued lemon and melon shielding the extra dry 1,3g/l sugar count. At about R40 it provides a good sample of what sav-blanc is all about. Went well with the peach boerie and makes a less expensive alternative to the Christina Van Loveren we spoke of last week.
Groote Post 2012– we were beginning to reach for the stars. This one carries a Top 100 sticker from the FNB sav-blanc awards and a Michelangelo Gold. More grass than the Van Loveren while flinty undertones tell of West Coast origins and cool Atlantic breezes. About R75 which is not bad considering its pedigree.
Bouchard Finlayson Walker Bay 2011– ever upward and worth it. This one sells for R85 ex-cellar but probably a little less for those prepared to shop around. It is a Platter four-star emanating this time from east of the Peninsula above Hermanus where a cooler micro-climate and coastal influences again provide ideal conditions for sauvignon blanc. Tangy and crispy, this is one of several South African sav-blancs up with the pace setters of New Zealand.
Spier Organic 2009– this icon has been resting in less than favourable conditions since 2009. So use it or lose it. Happily the years had been kind and it deserves its three stars from Platter. It offers "faint blackcurrant and grassy notes" and "pithy texture." The wine sells ex-cellar for R70 and is made from grapes grown without herbicides or pesticides while everything to do with the bottle is natural or recycled. But don't expect sulphur-free because the search for that ideal still continues.