Getting to Grips with the Site Stuff

“Site” is not so much a word referencing the geographical origin of a wine as it is an obsession. Not quite as persistently overused as terroir or minerality, site finds its way into wine communication the way a baguette crumb tends to lodge onto one’s upper-lip and a scant underwear brief just has to ubiquitously wander up to perch itself in the butt-crack.

The point of harping on about site, is to emphasise that the wine in question expresses the unique earthly fingerprint of the place where the grapes are grown to a distinct non-replicable singularity. Hereby the mono-geographical authenticity of the wine is underscored, helping to position it as the fruits of a part of the world selected by its creator. It is special, from a special place.

But is a wine bearing the hallmark and provenance of expressing a singular site the ultimate result of the natural world’s offering to the beauty that is a good wine? What about the intermingling of different sites, where grapes from diverse terroirs are combined to form a whole that shows a very agreeable sum of its parts?

This harnessing of diverse terroir offerings is promoted in Cap Classique, after all. The makers of these wines will be using Robertson fruit for stone-fruited brightness, Darling for a cool maritime torrent and Stellenbosch for linearity. Variety is, here, deemed the spice of life in search of the optimal end-result aimed to provide pleasure and joy.

Klein Zalze Wines, the Stellenbosch-based winery, employs this strategy of mixing the best to great success in its wine range, as its impressive scoreboard shows in terms of awards and commercial success in local and export markets. The Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2024 has just been released, proudly referring to the fact that grapes from three sites were used to formulate the final wine.

So fruit from Stellenbosch’s wind-scraped Faure region joined grapes from Durbanville, with an element of Darling terroir thrown in, too. Each parcel selected to meet the objective of Kleine Zalze’s cellar-team, instead of being limited to settling with what you get from one vineyard.

The result is a truly delicious young Sauvignon Blanc, this Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection. There is a spray of saline and fresh kelp from the Faure harvest, beautifully complemented by Durbanville’s cool-climate thiol expression, there where the flavour lies. On its own, Darling Sauvignon Blanc relies a tad too heavily on the asparagus and pea flavour, but combined with the other two diverse terroirs it brings a commanding Sancerre bitter-lemon lift to the wine. The wine has grace in the mouth, bringing exuberance and a palate-lifting flow of joy.

A brilliant example of site-specificity’s ability to work in more ways than one.

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