Yesterday a tasting of 18 examples of Sauvignon Blanc from the ward of Elgin. “I want people to realise that cool climate doesn’t equal “green”. It equals extra hang-time and riper flavours,” says James Downes, co-owner and viticulturist at Shannon Vineyards, one of the properties in the ward. My feeling is that while pyrazines are not nearly as much of an issue as they are when tasting Darling or Durbanville Sauvignon Blanc, the wines can still tend to be a little wishy-washy. At best, however, they are marked by restraint and elegance.
Plenty of debate as to what stylistic expression serves Elgin best. My view is that the general public thinks it wants Sauvignon Blanc at the greener end of the flavour spectrum on the basis that this is the style that has predominated over the last decade or so and is therefore reassuringly familiar but as riper examples increasingly come to the fore, there will inevitably be a shift in preference, these wines offering so much more reward even if they are currently considered “atypical”.
My wines of the day:
Iona 2012: 18/20
Great aromatics and flavour intensity – notes of gravel road dustiness, lime, apple and green melon. Good palate weight and coated yet vibrant acidity. Long finish. Even better than it was in August (see here).
Almenkerk 2011: 17/20
Subtle aromatics. Rich and quite forceful with coated acidity. Notes of lime, yellow and red apple, some paprika.
Hannay 2012: 17/20
A real find – grapes from a property called Valley Green, made by Catherine Marshall. Very primary. Clean and pure with zingy acidity. Archetypal Sauvignon Blanc.
Paul Cluver 2012: 17/20
Very primary. Lime and apple aromas and flavours. Good concentration, bright acidity. Delicious!