Sunday, November 6, 2011

2011 FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10

While Sauvignon’s affinity for oak is debatable, its affinity for controversy in the Cape is not. If previous results have been about making frenemies and narrowly defining its styles, Friday’s results seemed to be about making friends - and embracing WOSA’s ‘diversity is in our nature’ strap line.

Sauvignon Blanc has travelled some distance in the last 5 - never mind 10 - years, yet the results reveal more than the variety's Cape evolution. New organiser SBIG (Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group, secretary Pieter de Waal must be commended) found a new sponsor in FNB, assembled a new panel* under previous chair Christian Eedes and came up with probably the widest cross-section of regions, styles and price points the competition has ever seen. (although some usual regions where missing).

It suggests that the panel was given a brief that differed from previous years and / or it’s a reflection of the 2011 vintage which was more about textures than aromatics, playing into the hands of the warmer regions. However, with the exception of [what]? Woolworths Sauvignon Blanc from Breedekloof’s Bergsig, all non-coastal producers bought in fruit from cooler areas in varying amounts up to 100% in Overhex’s Soulo 2011.

Front l to r:  JP Quickelberge (Clos Malverne), Alex Nel (David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner), Lizelle Gerber (Boschendal), Richard Duckitt
(Franschhoek Cellar), Jandre Human (Overhex), De Wet Lategan (Bergsig)

Back l to r:  Thys Louw (Diemersdal), Pieter Badenhorst (Fleur du Cap), Morné Vrey (Delaire), Gideon Theron (Lutzville Vineyards)

The top 10 in ascending price:

Lutzville Cool Climate 2010                 R26.99
Woolworths [WHAT]? 2011 by Bergsig Estate       R39.95
Franschhoek Cellar Statue de Femme 2011         R40
Wade Bales Winemaker Selection Thys Louw 2011     R49
Overhex Soulo 2011                     R65
Clos Malverne 2011                    R76
Boschendal Reserve Collection 2011             R90
Delaire Coastal Cuvee 2011                 R95
Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Limited Release 2011         R95
David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner 2011             R165

While there is no perfect wine competition – which is part of its appeal – and there is no pleasing everybody, should SBIG be asking themselves if they should create 2 categories – regional and multi-regional, or simply leave it to the other competitions? I know what the terroirists will say.

SBIG indentified 5 major styles – something the Chenin Association should be doing – and paired an example of each with an item of food as follows: tropical & yellow fruit (granadilla jelly); green & herbaceous (red pepper); blackcurrant & elderberries (goats cheese espuma); wooded & barrel fermented (pear pieces with rice wine vinegar) and flint & mineral (oyster jelly) at various walk-around stations to highlight the respective styles (these wines presented blind) at Cellars Hohenort’s beautiful Greenhouse.

At the end of the walk-about, the top twenty (now sighted) wines where then grouped in style categories to be very well paired with delicious canapés (thanks Jorg Pfutzner and Peter Tempelhoff): tropical & yellow fruit (Poached Gurnard, cucumber, spring onion, passion fruit sauce. Chicken Ballottine, pineapple & peach compote, baguette crouton); green & herbaceous (Vegetable & Prawn Vietnamese Springroll, Jalapeno Ponzu vinaigrette); blackcurrant & elderberries (Goats cheese & beetroot, green apple chutney); wooded & barrel fermented (Quail Roulade, lavash, onion puree, Spiced Pear Gastrique) and flint & mineral (Smoked Yellowtail Tartare, Lime, Coriander, Avo Mousse) in a line up to blow away any Sauvignon sceptics.

 * Panel Members
Christian Eedes (chair)
Angela Lloyd
James Pietersen
Louie Nel
Pieter de Waal

Total number of wines entered: 169
Wines achieving 4 stars and above: 27 (16% of entries)
Backsberg John Martin Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Bergsig [WHAT]? Woolworths Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Bonnievale Cellar Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Boschendal Reserve Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Clos Malverne Sauvignon Blanc 2011
De Grendel Koetshuis Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Delaire Coastal Cuvée 2011
Delaire Coastal Cuvée 2010
Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Sauvignon Blanc Limited Release 2011
Franschhoek Cellar Sauvignon Blanc 2011
David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010
KWV Cathedral Cellar Sauvignon Blanc 2011
La Motte Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Lomond Sugarbush Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Lutzville Cool Climate Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Neethlingshof Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Phizante Kraal Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Quoin Rock The Nicobar 2009
Rietvallei Classic Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Soulo Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Wade Bales Thys Louw Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Tokara Reserve Collection Elgin Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Tokara Zondernaam Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Uitkyk Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Vergelegen Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2011

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