Dinner on Saturday night at Somerset West winery Waterkloof to celebrate our third wedding anniversary. Ambiance at this ultra-modern restaurant with panoramic views: 10/10, food: 7/10 (my oxtail ravioli was wholesome and tasty, my tempura sole less successful, the batter ever so slightly soggy), service: 5/10 (somewhat erratic, the waiting team seemingly short-staffed).
I started with a glass of Circumstance Shiraz 2008 to accompany my oxtail ravioli and it worked well enough, although I found the wine a touch over-oaked. My wife had ordered the asparagus risotto and this paired perfectly with the Waterkloof Sauvignon Blanc 2009.
My few encounters of the Waterkloof Sauvignon Blanc is that it is good but at R155 a bottle from the tasting room, it’s not a wine I’ve drunk too often. Our dinner being a special occasion, I was looking forward to giving it some thorough scrutiny and hence a bottle to last us through the meal (restaurant price: R255).
The minor shortcomings of my tempura sole notwithstanding, I am now convinced that this is a superlative wine, one of the best examples in the country. I think what impresses me most about it is that for all its concentration and texture, it remains very pure and poised. Usually, I’m inclined to think of even very fine Sauvingon Blanc as an aperitif rather than suited to food, but this most definitely requires something on the plate. Absolutely knock-out.
Consult the website and you start to realize why it’s so special: Grapes from two vineyards, planted between 270m and 300m above sea level and 5km from the ocean. Soil is sandstone, vines are 15 years old, yield a meager three tons a hectare. In the cellar, whole-bunch pressing and no commercial yeasts used in the fermentation, 45% of the wine fermented in old 600-litrel barrels. Left on primary lees until February 2010.
The technical analysis almost defies belief: alcohol by volume of 13.5%, residual sugar 3.9g/l, total acidity 9.6g/l and pH 3.11. On this basis, you can expect the wine to still be drinking well in 2031.
Waterkloof owner Paul Boutinot, one of the UK’s leading wine importers and winemaker Werner Engelbrecht have a particular vision for what this property is capable of when it comes to Sauvignon and it’s game on for the likes of Duncan Savage of Cape Point Vineyards, De Grendel’s Charles Hopkins and Graham Beck’s Erika Obermeyer as to who makes SA’s best Sauvy.