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Steenberg Special Release Sauvignon Blanc 1992

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Just peachy.

The 2011 of the Sauvignon Blanc Reserve from Constantia property Steenberg, which won gold at the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show, happens to be the last vintage of this wine to be released. It’s a single vineyard wine, the block in question planted in 1988 and now finally running out of puff. It will stay in the ground for the meanwhile, however, and contribute to a new flagship Sauvignon Blanc, the maiden vintage 2012 due for release in May next year.

At lunch with winemaker JD Pretorius at on-site restaurant Bistro 1682 yesterday, I had chance to revisit the 2011 and remind myself that the 2011 really is something special: rich and fully ripe with great intensity of flavour – green melon underscored by just a hint of paprika. Pretorius then opened the 2009, which had much more overt pyrazine notes. It would impress many but a little too green for me. “Steenberg is cool to start with and 2009 was an especially cool vintage – we don’t necessarily produce our best wine in such years,” says Pretorius.

As if proof were needed of Steenberg’s Sauvignon Blanc credentials, we also looked at the Special Release 1992 (made by Nicky Versfeld using the facilities at Welmoed in Stellenbosch). It was remarkably similar to the 2011 in flavour profile despite the 19-year gap between the two wines – peach, green melon and a touch of honey that comes with age. A certain plumpness about it with soft but sufficient acidity. Fading but still very attractive. Score: 16.5/20.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Is it normal for a sav blanc to still be so good after such a long time? Would any of today’s sav blanc’s have that sort of potential?

  2. Hi James, It’s certainly not the norm but equally it’s not unheard of – Klein Constantia 1986 remains fabulous, for instance. Regarding your question about the potential of today’s Sauvignon Blanc to age, I’m sure some will keep but what do we really want from old Sauvignon? Most of its charm lies in its primary flavour and the best older examples impress because they’ve survived rather than because they’ve gained a huge amount of extra complexity.

  3. What I love about older Sauvignon Blancs is the weight and complexity they gain, which then also changes the food matches. I had this wine with fillet on the bone, with butter Cafe de Paris, and was in heaven!

  4. Hi Francois, We drank the wine over a quite an extended period of time so got to see how it showed both chilled and as it warmed up in the glass. It was indeed memorable but did not have the profundity that you might expect for from old Chardonnay or Chenin and hence my score…

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