White and Proud

Like many folk with a similarly sensitive constitution, I tend to be particular about the Sauvignon Blanc I select to chuck down the old bung-hole. Some of the stuff is so acidic that drinking it feels like having a rusty steel vuvuzela shoved down your throat by a Zimbabwean refugee.

The addition of Semillon to cut the rapier-like acidic thrust has always been welcomed. And lately another soothing nuance has cropped up in the Sauvignon Blanc spectrum: Muscat Blanc.

Giorgio Dalla Cia’s Sauvignon Blanc 2009 was the first such model to come my way. As a regular visitor to the Dalla Cia eatery Pan E Vino in Bosman’s Crossing I try most of Giorgio’s booze. The Sauvignon Blanc has usually been what one might describe as ordinarily quaffable. But the 2009 has a delectable honey-melon juiciness, the result of a glug of Muscat and I find it most enticing.

Of course, using Muscat to cast a sensual veil over the leanness of a virginal white wine is not new. I was waltzing through Danie de Wet’s wine library a while back when Danie hauled out a Steen (Chenin) and Muscat wine his dad had made on De Wetshof in the 1970’s. We pulled the cork, and the wine was stunning after almost 40 years in the bottle. Nutty, bracing, fresh.

Petrus de Waal, he of Hermit on the Hill fame, also saw it fit to employ a wash of Muscat in his new label, The White Knight, a very pleasant little wine that is achieving a bit of cult status.

The base of the wine is, of course, Sauvignon Blanc as De Waal is both a disciple of and a preacher on this grape variety. He is, after all, secretary of the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group, along with the Pinotage Association and Jeff Grier’s band of MCC brewers the only such interest group that actually seems to do something on the subject it represents.

The White Knight’s two-third Sauvignon is fleshed out with one-third Semillon, both from the Stellenbosch region. And then just a splash of Muscat Blanc is added to the mix, although the influence of the splash is huge.

The result is an extremely enjoyable example of polished vinous purity, with the Muscat just adding a bit of sluttish delectability to the mix. No, Muscat is not adding residual sugar or piercing sweetness. The grape elevates the flavours of the Sauvignon Blanc, especially and gives the wine a colourful spiciness and a teasing flash of exotic flesh.

I like this wine because it’s interesting, challenges convention and makes the offerings on the white wine front a bit more exciting. Let’s face it, Sauvignon Blanc is becoming like Cameron Diaz’s acting: everybody likes it at some time or another, but you can’t help thinking that there must be more.

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