“How often do you get a chance to taste four decades of Sauvignon Blanc anywhere in the world?” was Klein Constantia MD Hans Astrom’s rhetorical question before a vertical tasting of 10 examples from the property starting with the Blanc de Blancs 1987 and ending with the current release 2013.
The Blanc de Blanc 1987 is a wine of legend. When a portion of the grapes became botrytis infected grapes, the late Ross Gower who was then winemaker blended it with a small portion of Chenin Blanc and labelled as Blanc de Blanc to differentiate it from his classically styled maiden vintage 1986.
With abv of 13.1%, RS of 4g/l, TA of 6.9g/l and a pH of 3.3, the wine appears indestructible. It currently shows honey, some nuttiness, mushroom and a vague note of asparagus. Layers of flavour, thick texture, coated acidity, the overall impression savoury rather than sweet. Very satisfying to drink, I scored it 92/100.
What the vertical illustrated was the fundamental challenge of Sauvignon Blanc – go for elegance by picking early and you can end up with wines quite lean and attenuated. Conventional wisdom goes out the window, however, with the 1995 – only 12.5% alcohol and the TA coming in at 7.3g/l but showing great intensity and still very much alive.
Current winemaker Matthew Day has been in the hot seat only since 2012 but the future looks bright. I’ve wrote about how much I like his 2013 at the end of last year (see here) and based on yesterday’s tasting, further time in bottle seems to have lent it even greater composure, if anything.