According to Cape Point Vineyards winemaker Duncan Savage, the 2006 vintage of his Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon blend Isliedh is a good South African wine, while the 2005 is good world wine, and to prove the point he opened both over lunch yesterday at the Food Barn in Noordhoek.
The 2006 is pale green in colour and shows a pronounced herbal character on nose and palate. This herbaceousness is so pronounced that it leaves the mouth tingling as if you’ve just put a dab of paprika on your tongue. Mouth-watering acidity further makes this an arresting wine, although Savage is convinced it has only “limited appeal”.
The 2005, meanwhile, is one of those bottling destined for South African winelands folklore. Six years on from vintage, it possesses both breadth and depth than the 2006. There’s a much greater range of flavour with herbal notes through lime to pineapple while the acidity is by no means lacking but seems to stick out less. The wine is also more textured.
Key to the 2005’s excellence was a warmer vintage and a more open canopy in the vineyard, which allowed Savage to achieve better ripeness. In 2006, a cooler vintage and vigorous canopy growth as a result of the vines entering an awkward “teenage” phase meant greener flavours.
While Savage feels that the Sauvignon Blanc category can produce a broad spectrum of legitimate styles, he feels that those that sit at the greener end of the spectrum are in danger of becoming generic and is adamant that by pursuing greater ripeness at Cape Point Vineyards, he will produce wines of greater distinction.
Also with our meal, the Isliedh 2010, a blend of 75% Sauvingon Blanc and 25% Semillon, which was fermented in barrel, 50% new and 50% second-fill, before spending 10 and a half months on the lees. Savage’s desire to avoid the predictable seems set for fulfilment, greater ripeness giving the wine flavours like peach and tangerine which are unusual if not unheard of in local Sauvignon-led blends. It has great palate weight (thanks to “plenty of batonage”) and the acidity possesses that rare quality of being most definitely present but not searing. Under cork since February, it’s set for release in January 2012 at R235 a bottle.