From the Vines of the Valley: Durbanville Wine Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2023

Words: Robyn Samuels

It takes a village and considered cultivation to produce exceptional wine. The Durbanville Wine Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2023, a labour of love and collaboration wine from 13 of the region’s wine producers, is an ode to the varied expression of the terroir.

As part of the Concours Mondial du Sauvignon competition, estates from the Durbanville region orchestrated an intimate tasting of their Sauvignon Blanc 2022 harvest, followed by the unveiling of the Durbanville Wine Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2023.

The prestigious competition which is usually hosted in Europe, was held in South Africa this year. Durbanville was not only handpicked as one of the locales to be toured by the judges during the Sauvignon Blanc-focused contest, but its producers also stood out as some of the most honoured participants at the globally-recognised event.

An Unforgettable Wine Tasting

The impeccable staff at 360° Bloemendal greeted guests with the estate’s Blanc de Blancs Brut Méthod Cap Classique, accompanied by fresh mosbolletjies with farm butter. Event proceedings commenced, as attendees were cordoned into groups for what would lead to an unforgettable Sauvignon Blanc tasting experience.

Selected estates from the Durbanville Wine Valley included Altydgedacht, Bloemendal, Canto, D’Aria, De Grendel, Diemersdal, Durbanville Hills, Groot Phesantekraal, Klein Roosboom, Maastricht, Meerendal, Nitida and Signal Gun.

Exemplary wine tastings were provided by each estate, complemented by marvellous food pairings. Guests were encouraged to engage with expert local winemakers who provided information about their production and harvesting rituals, as well as the expressed flavours, aromas and tasting notes for each sample.

Starting with the Groot Phesantekraal Sauvignon Blanc 2022, the refined wine was paired with oyster espuma (foam), squid ink pebbles and microherb salad – all beautifully displayed on a bed of conch sea shells and liquid nitrogen, mimicking the cool Atlantic sea mist that envelops the Table Mountain and dew-kissed vineyards.

Abounding tropical flavours of passion fruit, yellow cling peach and citrus were prominent in the Durbanville Collectors Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2022. The Cape Mist, aptly named after the environment’s cool climate, was served alongside smoky hibachi-seared tuna with fresh lime wedges, coconut sauce and coriander sprigs. Pleasantly bitter and bold zesty notes from the charred lime beautifully complemented this well-balanced wine.

A Labour of Love, Weather Permitting

Many often rely on wild fermentation, involving minimal intervention during the winemaking process. Diemersdal Wines’ vineyard selection, Eight Rows, is just one example.

Winemaker Thys Louw, who was granted access to only eight rows of vines within the estate’s Sauvignon Blanc vineyard, produced an exceptional wine guided by dryland farming methods in semi-arid conditions. The result? A wine that boasts concentrated aromas and fruit-forward flavours of nectarine and kiwi, given by the decomposed granite and high clay content of the soil. Paired with a delicate appetiser of rice puffs topped with goat’s cheese parfait and blackberry, sprinkled with blackened onion ash, the tropical flavours and balanced acidity of this exceptional wine shone.

While the featured wines originated from the Durbanville Wine Valley, the only consistent trait across the board was the unique expression of the terroir, reflected by the varied tasting notes of each sample.

Nitida Wild Child Sauvignon Blanc 2022, a refreshing and playful wine with ripe fig and slight citrus flavours, was gorgeously paired with Worcester figs, honey foam, salt and macadamia nuts.

The safari tasting concluded with Maastricht Contour Sauvignon Blanc 2022, named after the contoured landscape and the rolling hills that go on forever, much like the lingering acidity of this masterful wine. The pairing of Parma ham, candied apple and fresh celery leaves evoked the green and fruit flavours.

A Great Success

After a series of exquisite tastings and pairings, bellies were positively roaring, so lunch couldn’t have come at a better time. A delectable portion of line fish with crispy skin was served alongside Saldanha Bay mussels and leeks, which were swimming in a beautifully balanced sauce with passionfruit notes and finished with a herb oil dressing – exacting the expressed flavours of the celebrated Wine Valley vintage.

Dessert was equally delightful and texturally brilliant – a light and melt-in-mouth guava semifreddo, topped with kataifi and honeycomb paired with Bloemendal Noble Late Harvest – a stunning dessert wine with honeyed notes.

Engaging with each of the winemakers was truly one of the event’s highlights, as well as being able to learn more about South African wine, which continues to gain recognition on international platforms. The respect held for not only the end product but also the process of making the wine and the terroir – from the soil that feeds the vines, down to the weather conditions that impact the harvest – was apparent.

Durbanville Wine Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2023 can be bought from each of the participating estates’ online stores, and from major retailers and liquor stores nationwide at R 120. | Facebook | Instagram

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