Alexanderfontein Chip Off The Old Block 2013
Boschendal Reserve Collection 2013
Cape of Good Hope Altima 2013
Cape Point Vineyards Reserve 2012
Cape Point Vineyards Woolworths 2012
Franschoek Cellar Statue de Femme 2013
Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2012
Nederburg Private Bin D234 2012
Phizante Kraal 2013
The Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 competition was started in 2007 to promote innovation and excellence in the category and reward those endeavouring to make wines of true distinction.
Now held under the auspices of the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group of South Africa (SBIG) with sponsorship provided by FNB, this year attracted 207 entries (compared to 195 in 2012) and judging was done by a five-person panel chaired by me over three days in mid-August.
Key findings from this year’s judging? The green and ultra-acidic wines of around a decade ago are largely gone and instead what is emerging is a category of good basic quality but also really exciting stylistic diversity.
In years gone by, there’s been much debate about whether greener (pyrazine-derived) flavours should prevail over tropical fruit (thiol-derived) flavours or vice versa whereas now the best wines tend to show evidence of both compounds, and are more multi-faceted as a consequence.
Texture is another area where the category has shown great advances – lean and mean examples are much less to the fore and the best wines have a weight and creaminess about them, this typically the product of extended lees contact.
Another point of intrigue for those who follow the category closely is the wide range of producing areas represented among the top performing wines: Cape Point, Darling, Durbanville, Elandskloof, Franschhoek, Olifants River, Stellenbosch and Walker Bay are all represented to a greater or lesser extent. Of the top 10 wines, six are single-property wines (Alexanderfontein, Cape of Good Hope, the Reserve from Cape Point Vineyards, Nederburg, Phizante Kraal and Thelema) and the other four are multi-regional blends.
Lastly, it should also be noted that while six of the wines are from the most recent 2013 vintage, four of them are from 2012 which should gladden the hearts of those that feel the best local Sauvignon Blanc gets drunk too young.