Getting to Know Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc is a green-skinned grape variety which originates from the Bordeaux region of France. The grape gets its name from the French word sauvage (“wild”) and blanc (“white”) due to its early origins as an indigenous grape in South West France.
Sauvignon Blanc is most commonly a crisp, dry, unwooded white wine. Whilst we may be most familiar with Sauvignon Blanc as a single variety wine, it is also used in blends with Chardonnay or Chenin Blanc, and, more frequently these days, with Semillon, known as White Bordeaux blends. Plantings increased dramatically in the 1990s making Sauvignon Blanc an exceptionally well-known wine locally.
I think one of the reasons Sauvignon Blanc is the largest white wine category in South Africa is because it is a wine which consumers can easily recognise.
Broadly speaking we have two types of Sauvignon Blanc produced locally
Cool Climate Sauvignon Blanc
The first is grown in cooler climate areas and shows more green – grassy, herbaceous, green pepper, asparagus, fig notes. The secret to these flavours come from a natural aromatic grape compound known as methoxy-pyrazine. The same compound is found in green bell peppers.
Warmer Climate Sauvignon Blanc
The second, from warmer growing regions, expresses more tropical notes such as guava, melon, granadilla and even mango. These aromas, so-called thiols, are created during fermentation. These natural volatile sulphur-compounds are responsible for all this yummy fruitiness.
In years gone by, there’s been much debate about whether greener (pyrazine-derived) flavours should prevail over tropical fruit (thiol-derived) flavours or vice versa whereas now the best wines tend to show evidence of both compounds, and are more multi-faceted as a consequence.
Sauvignon Blanc Food Pairings
In general, the high acidity of Sauvignon Blanc has the ability to make most foods shine, much as lemon complements many dishes. Acidity also balances out salty and cured foods. Sauvignon Blanc will make an ideal partner to goats cheese and tomato tartlets or grilled asparagus with lemon, olive oil and feta.
Other suggestions include ceviche, raw and lightly cooked shellfish like oysters and shell-on prawns; dishes that contain raw or barely cooked tomato such as gazpacho, tomato consommé or tomato vinaigrettes. Also enjoyed with Japanese dishes such as sushi and sashimi, seafood-based steamed and fried dim sum or seafood with south-east Asian flavours such as lime, chilli and coriander or Thai fish cakes.
3 facts you should know about Sauvignon Blanc
- Sauvignon Blanc is a global phenomenon: It’s the world’s 8th most planted wine grape.
- Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc are the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon.
- When fermented in stainless steel, Sauvignon Blanc is fresh, fruity and for early drinking. Oaked styles are more textured, less aromatic and can be aged.
South African Sauvignon Blancs
Bellingham – Homestead Series Sauvignon Blanc
Originally known as ‘Bellinchamp’ (which translates to ‘pretty fields’), Bellingham traces its roots to 1693 when Hollander Gerrit Janz van Vuuren and his French Huguenot wife planted the first 1000 vines on the estate. It then passed from family to family until 1943, when Bernard and Fredagh Podlashuk purchased the somewhat derelict farm, set about restoring the manor house, gardens and vineyards and effectively pioneered the modern renaissance of the Bellingham Estate in Franschhoek.
Bellingham today is boldly exploring new territories in the fine art of crafting wine and has received numerous international awards and garnered far-flung acclaim. The current Bellingham generation celebrates the historic momentum that has shaped its wines through time in four chapters that tell the stories behind the gable.
|TASTING NOTES||Beautiful light, pale yellow with a golden tinge, soft melon pear and citrus flavours on the nose. The palate offers an expected burst of citrus and tropical flavours with a crisp and clean finish|
|WE LOVE IT WITH||White Fish Ceviche with Nachos|
Spier – Creative Block 2
Spier is one of the most well-known wine destinations in the Stellenbosch region. They offer not only award-winning wines and unique pairings but world-class accommodation, food, art and entertainment. The brand bottles under five labels and this wine is part of the Creative Block series.
This white Bordeaux-style blend is approximately 85% Sauvignon Blanc with a little bit of Semillon. It works really well paired with light meals, seafood, or even spicy, Asian-inspired dishes.
|WO||Coastal ( Tygerberg, Stellenbosch and Darling|
|TASTING NOTES||Ripe kiwi fruit and white peaches on the nose with a strong intense green grassy undertone. Perfumed green winter melon, full plated wine with an undertow of green asparagus.|
|WE LOVE IT WITH||Thai Mussels|
Trizanne Signature Wines – Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Trizanne Barnard started her own wine label in 2008 and hasn’t looked back. The culmination of international winemaking experience, along with local stints, gave this winemaker the knowledge and confidence she needed to go out on her own and to create wines that she loves.
The surf and sea of Noordhoek inspire her and the resulting wines, made from grapes from the Elim and Swartland regions, are award-winning boutique bottles.
|WO||Elim & Swartland|
|TASTING NOTES||Vibrant and fresh nose of crushed rocks, ripe pear and yellow gooseberry. Quite energetic on the palate which builds and has more profundity than one may first realise. Walks the tightrope between bracing Elim freshness and ripe fruit brilliantly. Finishes on a dry, clean and very classy note.|
|WE LOVE IT WITH||Spicy Salmon Squares|
Kleine Zalze Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Kleine Zalze’s award-winning wines are known for their distinctly South African character, boasting lively, full-bodied flavours that reflect the local climate and terroir. Their winemaking philosophy is underpinned by a three-pronged strategy of nurturing and developing all of the components involved in the process: the vineyards, the cellar, and the people.
|WINEMAKER||Alastair Rimmer, Henning Retief, RJ Botha|
|TASTING NOTES||The 2017 Sauvignon Blanc shows typical characters for its varietal with intense stone fruit flavours backed by hints of passion fruit, blackcurrant and bell pepper. These flavours carry to the palate with a silky richness and intriguing complexity. The grapes were sourced primarily from.|
|WE LOVE IT WITH||Roast Chicken with Black Truffle Jus|
Saxenburg – Private Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Saxenburg Wine Farm is one of the oldest in the country and has been producing stellar wines for many years. Their emblem – three guinea fowl, represent the heart, soul and mind, three elements critical to winemaking.
|WINEMAKER||Edwin Grace, Emil Klug|
|TASTING NOTES||A complex, fruity, figgy, grassy, tropical and fine flowery flavour. The wine has exceptional balance and a fresh, elegant character. With its long fruity finish and elegant structure, it is ideal to mature for a number of years or to enjoy as an aperitif or with light salads and fish.|
|WE LOVE IT WITH||Beetroot and Baby Spinach Salad with Panko Crumbed Brie|
Iona – Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Sauvignon Blanc is an important grape to Iona, originally planted in 1998, it now includes around 60% of their total plantings. This unique wine farm is one of the coolest, as it sits 420 m above sea-level and has unbeatable views over the valley.
|TASTING NOTES||Fragrance of pure white grapefruit, intense tropical fruit, ripe gooseberry and fleshy kiwi fruit overlay Iona’s distinctive herbal and floral undertones. The palate is keenly balanced showing cut green apples and lime marmalade followed by great minerality and length.|
|WE LOVE IT WITH||Beef Carpaccio with Goats Cheese|
Fleur du Cap – Essence du Cap Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Fleur du Cap recently unveiled a more vibrant, yet sophisticated new look and feel. The first wine to be released with this exciting new look is Essence du Cap Sauvignon Blanc 2017. Grapes were sourced from different cool climate vineyards located in the Western Cape, including Helderberg, Elgin and Cape Agulhas. Only free run juice was clarified and fermented. The wine spent two months on the fine lees after fermentation before being blended, fined and filtered for bottling.
|TASTING NOTES||The abundance of aromas and flavours typical of the diverse growing regions make for a complex, beautifully layered wine. It is predominantly driven by stone fruit, originating from the Helderberg grapes. The finish is fresh, full and lingers in the mouth which makes this wine an excellent accompaniment to shellfish and summer salads.|
|WE LOVE IT WITH||Chargrilled Asparagus and Avocado Salad with Prawns|
Klein Roosboom – Jéan Sauvignon Blanc
Klein Roosboom is a boutique winery set in amongst the lush hills of Durbanville. Fresh Atlantic breezes cool the vineyards and the crisp Cape air shapes the flavours of the grapes. Winemaker and owner, Karin de Villiers, makes wines that she loves to drink – several of which are named for her husband and children. Her husband Jéan de Villiers is the viticulturalist and this Sauvignon Blanc is his namesake. Delightful cheese and charcuterie platters are available at the cosy wine tasting room.
|WINEMAKER||Karin de Villiers|
|TASTING NOTES||An invigorating bouquet of tropical fruit. Citrus undertones with a distinct flavour of ruby grapefruit. A soft mineral finish on the full-bodied palate.|
|WE LOVE IT WITH||Layered Tropicana Layer Cake with Passionfruit Curd and Coconut|
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