Vergelegen White 2009

August.

August.

What is the drinking window for South Africa’s finest wines? The condition of entry for “Museum class” at the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show is that  dry white wines be should at least four years old and all other wines (including sparkling wines) at least eight years old.

Earlier this year, the Vergelegen “White” 2009 won the trophy for best museum class white blend at the Trophy Wine Show, although some will no doubt argue that this particular wine is nowhere near peaking at five years from vintage and the award was therefore too easily won.

Over the weekend, a bottle was opened and much enjoyed but for me, it was quite the right time to drink it. A blend of 65% Sauvignon Blanc and 35% Semillon, the juice was fermented and then matured in French oak, the Sauvignon in older 500-litre barrels and the Sem in new 225-litre barriques, both for nine months.

The wine was initially quite muted, some honey and nuttiness by virtue of its time in bottle the predominant notes. It opened up beautifully, howeve, to reveal lime through blackcurrant and just a little pyrazine-derived white pepper on the back palate. The really striking thing was its wonderful presence – not at all weighty but full and satisfying nonetheless. Seamless and long and very classy. I’m sure it will survive for many years ahead but how rewarding to drink it while still in its pomp.

Score: 93/100.

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2 Comments

  1. KwispedoorOctober 20, 2014 at 10:02 pmReply

    Yeah, not everyone likes old wine, but for me good old wine has something that good young(ish) wine will never have.

    And of course you’ll have less disappointment regarding brett, bacterial spoilage, random bottle oxidation, over-the-hill bottles and so on if you open your wines earlier. Maybe the fact that things do go awry on occasion when wine gets really old is something that adds to the magic when that perfect old wine decides to present itself in all its glory.

    Sure, I also play it safe at times, but I’m inclined to chase the magic…

  2. HarryOctober 20, 2014 at 5:15 pmReply

    Pomp?

    I still regard the 2001 semillon from Vergelegen (drunk at Christmas 2011) as the best south african white wine I have drunk.

    It started with some honey and lemon goodness, bright acidity and a touch of grassiness. I thought it would be all I’d get.

    I was wonderfully wrong. The wine opened up to give more fruit than I thought possible, lemons, limes, roasted green pepper, burnt orange, and then nuts roasted and plain. And a honey that shifted around from waxy honeycomb to straight out the bottle.

    The real joy was the complexity; each tantalizing aroma darting in and out fanning out over my palate. Every sip was a shifting kaleidoscope; a David Lynch film of flavor.

    I really hope our current crop of brilliant white wines ages as well. If they do, I can’t wait to be drinking in 2020.

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Wine magazine was published from October 1993 until September 2011 & now lives on in digital form as Winemag.co.za. We cover everything to do with SA fine wine.

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