With the first Southern Sauvignon Blanc Encounter between South Africa and New Zealand poised on a knife-edge, South Africa put in a superb showing in the final rounds, winning this unique competition with an average score of 90.4/100pts to the Kiwis’ 89.4/100. It was New Zealand, however, who produced the top-scoring wines of the day with its Villa Maria Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2020 and Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc 2020 topping the score-sheets with ratings of 93.4/100 and 93/100 respectively. South African winery Stark-Conde from Stellenbosch put in the best showing by a Cape wine with a commendable 92.8/100.
For this first Southern Sauvignon Blanc Encounter between the two Southern Hemisphere sporting rivals, 10 wines from New Zealand squared up to 10 from South Africa, both sets of wines specially selected for this competition by panels of experts from each respective country. The contest, organized by New Zealand wine producer Erica Crawford and Cape-based independent wine marketer Emile Joubert, was arranged as a part of the celebrations honouring 100 years of rugby rivalry between South Africa and the Land of the Long White Cloud.
Winnie Bowman, who headed up the judging panel of five wine experts from South Africa, Germany, America and Portugal, said that the 20 wines placed on the judging table were stunning examples of wines made from one of the world’s most commercially popular white wine grapes.
“The judges agreed that the Sauvignon Blanc producers from both countries are united in striving for excellence through pure, delicious wines showing the Sauvignon Blanc grape at its best,” says Bowman.
“Although the wines were tasted unsighted without us knowing what was in the glass, the panel expected a pretty clear indication of what to look for in the New Zealand wines, known for their brash expressiveness. However, like the Cape wine, the Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand were beautiful and charming, bright and elegant. It is clear the winemakers of New Zealand and the Cape are currently treating Sauvignon Blanc with reverence, using innovative cellar techniques to get the best out of the grape. The true winner here is the consumer of these wines, who are getting a tastier offering of Sauvignon Blanc year-on-year.”
Upon hearing the results, Crawford said seeing the competition’s top two wines coming from New Zealand was no real surprise. “Both Villa Maria and Astrolabe are beautifully crafted fruit-bombs, packed with flavour and aromatics, and they really stand-out in a judging line-up,” she said. “People love these wines, and by including some of our best classic-style Sauvignons, we knew our Kiwi wines were capable of individual domination. Congratulations to the Cape for the overall win – your Sauvignon Blanc is coming on in leaps and bounds, and it is time you get the word and the wines out into international marketplace.”
Joubert said the Cape showed it was making some of the best Sauvignon Blancs in the world by ending the contest with the highest average score for its 10-wine line-up. “Our geography is more diverse than New Zealand, with Sauvignon Blancs made in warmer regions, such as Worcester and Paarl, as well as cooler areas in Stellenbosch, Durbanville and Constantia. This makes for an exciting diversity of Sauvignon Blanc expression,” he said. “But New Zealand is still the benchmark for New World Sauvignon Blanc. To make such consistently great wines under the big-brand volumes they do is remarkable. They are tremendous ambassadors for wines from the Southern Hemisphere and our partners in the New World wine culture.”
South African Team
Alvi’s Drift Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2020
Diemersdal Winter Ferment 2020
Stellenbosch Vineyards Southern View 2020
D’Aria Winery The Songbird 2020
KWV Classic Collection Cathedral Cellar 2020
Le Grand Domaine Wines The Pledge Our Darling 2020
Spier Wine Farm 21 Gables Sauvignon 2020
Stark-Condé Wines Round Mountain 2020
Steenberg The Black Swan 2020
Thelema Mountain Vineyards 2020
Team New Zealand
Te Whare Ra 2020
Loveblock 2020 organic
Villa Maria Reserve 2020
Dog Point 2020 organic
Zephyr MK111 2020
Giesen “The August” 2019
Jules Taylor OTQ 2018
Yealands State of Flux 2019