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.