De Grendel Koetshuis Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Not moderate.

Not moderate.

The trick to world-beating Sauvignon Blanc according to some is to maximise both your pyrazine- and thiol-derived flavours and then ensure some kind of balance between the two.

Koetshuis from De Grendel has always been one such wine – dramatic in its youth but how does it age? To explore this, a bottle of the 2010, a wine which rated 4½ Stars in the 2011 edition of Platter’s.

50% of the grapes were sourced from Darling, the rest own fruit and everything in both vineyard and cellar done to ensure a bigger and bolder end-result: grapes picked ripe, longer skin contact, longer cold settling as well as extended lees contact after fermentation with batonage at more frequent intervals than usual.

This wine has had my grudging respect in the past but I think there’s an inherent awkwardness to it that is becoming more marked as time goes by. There are attractive notes of green melon and honey but not-so-attractive notes of tinned peas, gravel road dustiness and intense white pepper. The palate is rich and full with tangy acidity – a good core of fruit but also lots of pyrazine character, the result being that the wine is pulled in different directions. Still arresting but lacking grace.

Score: 88/100.

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One Comment

  1. KwispedoorJanuary 15, 2015 at 10:47 amReply

    I suppose one man’s “pulled in different directions” could be another man’s complexity…

    I’ve found that wines with pyrazines age in incredibly diverse ways. It’s not easy at all to come to any blanket conclusions. I found so much pyrazines on a young 2006 Jordan Merlot, tasted at the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show’s public showcase many years ago, that I told someone there to close their eyes and smell the Semillon-Sauvignon blend in my glass (this person didn’t bat an eyelid – not until he saw it was a red wine, of course). However, in an age of over-extracion, I also found it balanced and elegant, so I bought a bottle or two. Last year, the same wine went into a blind tasting of Merlots and nobody found any pyrazines on it. Incidentally, a Hillcrest 2005 won that particular tasting – truly gorgeous in its old age after also starting with pyrazines.

    Other wines, like the ’86 Klein Constantia Sauvignon Blanc, tends to go more towards the ‘asparagus soup’ route. And so, many other pyraziney wines, made from unripe fruit, simply mature into nasty, harsh wines. A fairly complex issue, I think.

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