dispels the cat-pee myth

Monday, 2 September, 2013
Shante Hutton,
South Africa has 'the ability to make more styles of Sauvignon Blanc than any other country, even more than New Zealand, France and Chile,' were words that rang in the ears of those who attended the Old Mutual Trophy Awards feedback session this year. With this in mind, explored some of South Africa's wineries intent on displaying Sauvignon Blanc's uniqueness.
Green peppers, asparagus, cut grass and even cat wee are all adjectives known to describe Sauvignon Blancs. That overtly excessive green characteristic is known technically as methoxypyrazines - or just as pyrazines. But things are changing.

Eat @ Altydgedacht in Durbanville was the venue for a Sauvignon Blanc tasting presented by for some of South Africa's wine bloggers, writers and cellar masters, in order to dispel the pre-conceptions many have on the white variety and to experience the different styles South Africa has to offer.

The event began with guests receiving a glass of J.C le Roux Sauvignon Blanc sparkling wine and a chance to write down their initial thoughts on Sauvignon.

Guests were seated and introduced to a completely blind tasting, insomuch as nothing was revealed (i.e. vintage, winery, price etc) until the wine had been tasted and discussed. The format was informal and honesty was key – often one can get bewildered by the grandeur of events and the main focus is shifted.

The wines sampled were from varying regions and wine estates:
Shannon Vineyards 2013 (Elgin)
Steenberg 2012 (Constantia)
Marianne 2011 (Stellenbosch)
Adoro 2009 and 2010 (3 regions)
Stony Brook 2011 and 2012 (Elgin)
Quoin Rock 2011 and 2012 (Stellenbosch)
Altydgedacht 2013 and 2008 (Durbanville)
Nitida 2009 (Durbanville)
Mulderbosch Noble Late Harvest 2011 (Stellenbosch)
A varying degree of styles were present and we started with Shannon 2013 Sauvignon Blanc that exhibited a strong Granny Smith apple flavour common to Elgin. Steenberg's Sauvignon Blanc 2012 followed with those typical restrained flavours of Constantia.

Marianne 2011 and Altydgedacht's 2013 were similarly delicious with earthy yet subtle tones and hints of fruit.

Stony Brook showed how maturing a Sauvignon Blanc brings out a beautiful nutty characteristic that whilst delicate on the initial first taste, blossomed in the mouth offering citrus and a creamy finish. The same was found with Quoin Rock's Nicobar.

Nitida 2009 and Altydgedacht's 2008 showed how even the same region afforded different styles with Nitida's wine being grassy and herbacious and Altydgedacht's showing ripe and luscious fruit flavours.

Mulderbosch's sweet Sauvignon Blanc closed the tasting much to the amazement of those present - Noble Late Harvest's usually being the result of Chenin Blanc.

Perhaps one of the most notable comments of the day was "I think we need a general consensus in the wine industry that our wines are being sold too cheap." Indeed, Altydgedacht's 2013 blew us all away for a mere R60 and Stony Brook's Heart of the Lees (though discontinued now) is selling for R65 and was simply divine.

Following on from the tasting was a platter-style lunch of some of Eat @ Altydgedacht's country cuisine- Springbok pot pie and angelfish pate filled the gap.

I think we definitely moved away from the idea of Sauvignon Blanc being all acid and no depth.

Next time you are about to reach for the latest release of a Sauvignon Blanc, perhaps take the time to look for an older vintage or an unusual Savvy....unless of course you're at Altydgedacht.

See our photo album to view who was present and the rustic venue here

The next variety tasting will take place in November.

(View our September Spotlight feature here)