Recently a line-up of big-name South African Sauvignon Blanc presented by managing director of Klein Constantia Hans Astrom with Pascal Jolivet, a leading Sancerre producer in attendance.
Nothing like a blind tasting to make re-think the status quo. My favourite wine was the Life from Stone 2012 from Robertson producer Springfield, a wine maligned in some quarters as being too good for its place of origin.
15 wines on the table, served blind and with those participating asked to score blind. The line-up appears below, ranked according to my scores (with Jolivet’s scores as reference):
1. Springfield Life from Stone 2012
CE: 18 PJ: 12
Very expressive on the nose with an array of different fruit aromas. Rich and full with good length. Good intensity, layers of flavour.
2. Hermanuspietersfontein No. 5 2012
CE: 17.5 PJ: 9
Shy nose. Granadilla and grapefruit flavours. Relatively thick textured but balanced by fresh acidity and a nice savoury finish. “Not clean” according to Jolivet.
3.= Reyneke Sauvignon Blanc 2012
CE: 17 PJ: 13
Yellow apple on the nose and palate. Rich and full with a smooth texture, the acidity nicely coated. Barrel fermentation evident.
3.= Buitenverwachting Husseys Vlei 2012
CE: 17 PJ: 13
A hint of pyrazine on the nose. Rich and relatively thick textured on the palate with coated acidity. Grapefruit upfront, some white pepper on the finish.
5.= Cape Point Vineyards 2012
CE: 16.5 PJ: 17
Slight mercaptan note on the nose (described as “minerality” by Jolivet. Fully-ripe fruit – grapefruit and pineapple flavours – and tangy acidity.
5.= Graham Beck Pheasants’ Run 2012
CE: 16.5 PJ: 15
Gundpowder (reduction) on the nose. Lime and grapefruit on the palate – good intensity with bright acidity. Technically correct.
5.= Klein Constantia Perdeblokke 2012
CE: 16.5 PJ: 17
Cat’s pee and pineapple aromas and flavours. Ripe fruit plus a slightly nutty, oxidative note (thanks to maturation in old 500-litre barrels) on the palate. Nice tangy acidity.
5.= Neil Ellis Groenekloof 2012
CE: 16.5 PJ: 14
Shy nose. Yellow apple and a hint of spice on the palate. A-typical but has real interest.
9.= Iona 2012
CE: 16 PJ: 16
Shy nose. Clean and pure with lime flavour and bright acidity. Lighter bodied. Jolivet likes the elegance here.
9.= Klein Constantia 2012
CE: 16 PJ: 15
Shy nose. Peach flavour, acidity appears soft but sufficient. A little lacking in excitement.
9.= Steenberg Reserve 2011
CE: 16 PJ: 10
A hint of pyrazine on the nose (“not clean” according to Jolivet). Spectrum of flavours from herbal through to stone fruit. Intriguing but seemed to lack harmony on the day.
9.= Vergelegen Reserve 2012
CE: 16 PJ: 11
Shy nose. Lime through blackcurrant flavours. Lean and austere with a particularly dry finish.
CE: 15.5 PJ: 15
A vegetal note on the nose. Rich and full on the palate, the wine appearing ever so slightly listless.
14.= David Niewoudt Ghost Corner 2012
CE: 15 PJ: 12
Pyrazine driven. Aromas and flavours of fresh herbs and asparagus. Rich and full but a bit charmless. Dramatic but lacks finesse.
14.=De Grendel 2012
CE: 15 PJ: 10
Dusty on the nose – pyrazine driven. Green and lean with driving acidity. “Not clean” according to Jolivet.