South Africans love Sauvignon Blanc! It is like an insulin shot to a diabetic: life sustaining and life giving. How often have I heard the words “I must have a glass of Sauvignon Blanc”! Be honest, do you ever hear anyone say that about the noble Riesling or fashionable Viognier? It seems to be like a fuel, leading you away from the mind-boggling frustrations of day-to-day life, propelling you into the evening with a much needed liquid breath of fresh air!
Considering the statistics, it is clear that Sauvignon Blanc is still growing in popularity amongst South Africans: the cultivar’s total plantings increased by 146% from 1986 (2618 ha) to 2002 (6450 ha) and new plantings takes place yearly. New Zealand is the biggest producer of Sauvignon Blanc in the tri-nation countries. Followed by France, where the grape has its origin, more specifically in the Loire Valleys Central Vineyards, Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire.
Despite the fact that New Zealand produces the most Sauvignon Blanc in the world, South Africa is most certainly a big producer of this wine. As far as quality is concerned, our winemakers are experimental and are continuously looking for new methods and new tastes to improve the wines quality and to give it more complexity, both for the single variety wines as well as the blended wines. Our wines have a certain refinement to them, we have brought back the ‘old world’, its home Loire, in our wines with a touch of producing a more ‘modern’ style, more crisp fruity wines. This might explain why the world has suddenly taken notice of our Sauvignon Blanc wines and our exports are increasing.
“Terroir” is a French term expressing the combined elements of soil, site and climate that capture a wine’s unique character. In Sancerre, as in Pouilly-sur-Loir, the soils are divided into three zones, consisting of kimmeridgian (chalk and clay), stony/chalk (les Caillottes) and stony/flinty. Each of these soils imparts a unique quality to the wine. For instance flinty soils produce minerally long lived wines, soils that consist mainly of “Les Caillottes” produce fruity, well balanced wines and the kimmeridgian soils weightier wines with the ability to mature for many years.
The area of Graves in Bordeaux also produces wonderful examples of dry Sauvignon Blanc wines that are blended with the Semillon grape and sometimes aged in oak barrels. The Semillon component, which lends additional structure and roundness, enables these wines to age for decades.
Sauvignon Blanc is characterized by its crisp acidity and the racy array of tropical fruit, green peppers, grassy, figs and asparagus aromas. It is well known that certain methoxypyrazines are responsible for the typical green pepper/herbaceous nuances in Sauvignon Blanc. The climate where the grapes are cultivated plays a vital role in the characteristics and aromas in this variety. South Africa is normally perceived as a warmer country, compared to Bordeaux or the Loire and New Zealand, but we do have cooler climate areas such as Constantia, Durbanville and Elgin, where Sauvignon Blanc can be cultivated and produce fruit from which we produce world class wines.
To all our Sauvignon Blanc lovers, I invite you to explore the wonderful world of Sauvignon Blanc wines and the blends thereof next time you dine at Restaurant Mosaic. We can offer you from the best of South Africa, both in the single variety wines and the Bordeaux white style blends, wines from the different Terroir of Sancerre and Pouilly Fume as well as the best of Bordeaux!