2009 Leopard's Leap Sauvignon Blanc | Western Cape | South Africa
2010 Elgin Valley Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc | Elgin Valley | South Africa
After watching the tv event of the year (Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, duh), I was inspired. They're all badass as hell, but Candice Swanepoel takes it to a whole . . . 'nother . . . jaw-dropping . . . tongue-wagging . . . mind-blowing . . . level. South African wines don't usually catch my eye, but damn, CS makes me want to pay more attention.
So, sauvignon blanc with hotpot. I had some friends over, wanting to do something heavy on seafood and greens. They brought over the most amazingly thin slices of beef and pork as well, to round it out. We had so much food - far too much for 6 people, but I was hungry and ready for the challenge. New world sauvignon blanc can be interesting, sort of the other half of the more traditional character of this wine (dry white Bordeaux, Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé). New Zealand's famous for that clean, overtly fruit-forward style, with the herbal notes that blast you in the face. No subtlety there, but I was interested to see how the South Africans were handling it.
Turns out, not that well. Both wines were lean, not usually an issue with sauvignon, but in this case a bit overly so. Without body or texture, the wines are just shrill, a mess of green aromas and cheap fruit. But the New Zealand sauvignon wasn't that much better. Tropical fruits, pineapple and all that, with a marked sweetness on the palate.
A forgettable trio of wines. Sauvignon blanc does well in a lot of different styles, but personally, the benchmark I hold it to are the dry whites of Bordeaux. Handled in oak, they have all the aromatics and texture I look for in a great white wine. Well extracted acidity give some excitement on the palate as well as the ability to age. Don't want to stupidly put out any blanket statements, especially after tasting 2 (!) South African wines . . . but maybe they need a bit more time to learn how to handle sauvignon, and perhaps decide if there's a future for this varietal.