Elgin White Wine Retrospective
By Christian Eedes, 20 November 2013
Sauvignon Blanc from Elgin has been rather overlooked relative to the Chardonnay from this district in recent times but yesterday during a tasting of 35 whites of various vintage, the 16 examples of Sauvignon proved compelling. That’s not to say the seven examples of Chardonnay disappointed but the Sauvignon is right up there.
Much introspection from the producers present as to why their Sauvignon is not more highly decorated in competition but I think it could be argued that Elgin Sauvignon taken collectively is ahead of the curve. The wines seem to sit pretty much in the middle of the flavour spectrum showing lime, apple and white peach – not nearly as pungent as their counterparts from Darling or Durbanville nor quite as rich and powerful as Stellenbosch. A key factor for me is that because of Elgin’s cool growing conditions, growers are able to leave the fruit on the vines longer getting proper ripeness without losing acidity.
If anything, Elgin producers need to push the envelope even more with a view to making Sauvignon Blanc not as commodity wine but made for the connoisseur and therefore capable of demanding a price premium – the addition of Semillon and the use of oak are two obvious ways to do this.
The supremely elegant Shannon Sanctuary Peak 2013 (R100 a bottle) shows the way containing 11% barrel Semilion fermented and matured for three months in new oak. Lime fruit with some spicy bite, quite lean but pure and focused with zesty acidity. Score: 92/100.
The Corder Family Wines Cool Climate 2012 (R100) and Spioenkop 2012 (R130) are both wines I rated 4½ Stars when reviewing them for Platter’s 2014 while the Catherine Marshall 2012 (R70) and the Hannay 2012 (R68) also made by Marshall both had an appealing flamboyance about them.
Offering great quality relative to price was the South Hill 2013 at R65 a bottle – lovely apple and peach flavours and great poise if not super-concentrated. Score: 90/100.
The Oneiric 2010 (R112.50), meanwhile, was looking in great nick for a wine with some age on it. Made by Jean Smit now of Boekenhoutskloof, it showed blossom on the nose and lime through peach plus a hint of spice on the palate. Really subtle with a pithy finish. Score: 91/100.