Like a half-sloshed blonde in a Long Street pool bar, Sauvignon Blanc is just too easy. Its splash of acidity, length of green fruit refreshment and penchant for immediate satisfaction has you on your back in no time.
And oh yes, it is fun the first couple of times, but then it becomes oh-so predictable and unchallenging. The result is the dreaded dead palate where varieties are so,one-dimensional and boring that each Sauvignon Blanc starts tasting just like the previous one. That is why it is South Africa’s most popular white wine, because the public generally have stupid, uneducated palates. And of course, wine makers love it as it is an easy, unchallenging grape to contend with despite the bullshit arguments of Sauvignon Blanc only able to grow in climates bracing ocean breezes abound and where polar bears get brain freezes.
The ease of making a Sauvignon Blanc acceptable to the local throat was illustrated to me a while back at De Grendel where Charles Hopkins held a tasting for the brands wine club. Tasted blind, a Du Toitskloof Sauvie of under R30 came out as the evening’s best wine, nailing some big ticket contenders, including Steenberg’s Magna Carta.
But hang on, this is apparently changing. South African winemakers have been talking of an oversupply of Sauvignon Blanc at the moment, not being able to give the stuff away.
But before Pieter de Waal and his Sauvignon Crusaders get a pyrazine attack, let’s admit that when it hits the spot, Sauvignon Blanc does produce a good drop.
The other day at Savruga, one of the Waterfront’s trendoid lunch spots, the draught beer was not available, so a bunch of us settled on the next best thing to draught, namely a bottle of cheapish Sauvignon Blanc.
It turned out to be the Sterhuis Sauvignon Blanc 2009, from Stellenbosch a region where good Sauvignon Blanc is not supposed to be made according to the Cool Climate Crowd.
Well, with a plate of sushi, a view over the harbour and with two Scandinavian Koeksisters giving each other a going over at the table next to ours, the Sauvignon Blanc went down a treat.
The nose was filled with smacked granite stone, freshly squeezed courgettes and buttercups. Going down the hatch the wine entered lean and tight, yet grew to a fruit explosion on the mid-palate, a characteristic of grapes grown on perfectly balanced acid-to-pH soils. The wine gushed gooseberry, green pineapple and winter melon, and it tasted so nice and wet a glass was sent over to the Scandinavians.
Yes, very nice indeed the wine was. But ordering the next bottle, the old Sauvignon Blanc genes took over and each sip started tasting the same, interest waning, the wine unable to keep the palate interested as a Chardonnay or Riesling could.
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