Klein Constantia Release An Impressive New 2021 Clara Sauvignon Blanc Cuvee…

The Klein Constantia Clara Sauvignon Blanc Cuvee forms part of the estate’s wider pursuit to express the true and unique typicity of Sauvignon Blanc grown in Constantia’s exceptional terroirs. Named after Clara Eliza Hussey, an American heiress from Pittsburgh who purchased Klein Constantia in 1913 with her husband Braam de Villiers, and under who’s custodianship the estate was elevated to new heights of quality and fame.

Like all the Sauvignon Blancs in the range, the Clara is made with a minimalistic approach, allowing for the grapes grown on granitic soils to reveal a pure expression. Only free run juice was used and fermented in 500 litre neutral oak barrels with wild yeasts. Ever since it’s inception, this Cuvee has become one of my favourite wines in the entire range with its added richness, textural depth, freshness and intensity that made this a style of Sauvignon Blanc that was originally targeted exclusively for the American market. Certainly a wine to look out for if available in your market.

Klein Constantia Clara Sauvignon Blanc 2021, WO Constantia, 14.15% Abv.

2.18g/l RS | 7.63g/l TA | 3.19 pH

Normally a blend of predominantly blocks 372, 381, and the 361 organic block, as well as oddments of six specially identified blocks in total situated at 260 to 300 metres in altitude, all aged for 9 months in 500 litre French oak and acacia barrels, 30% new. After fermentation, the best barrels are selected from the best blocks and the wine is made in a more opulent, punchy style primarily for the US market, with more richness, texture and generally more rounder Bordeaux-style white wine characters. Once again, the aim of producing a bolder, richer style is carried out to perfection with bright intense aromatics of green apple puree, spicy green pear, white citrus, crushed granitic dust and the most delicate dried green herbal notes. The palate impact is potent and pronounced with an incredible concentration of sour yellow plum, green apple pastille, white peach and tangy green citrus that coats the mouth with a wonderfully broad glycerol texture, tangy acids and very impressive saline depth of flavour. This wine stands up to the very best expressions from Sancerre and Pouilly Fume creating a parallel universe of premium quality and Sauvignon Blanc pleasure. Drink now or over the next 10+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Klein Constantia Continues to Push the Quality Boundaries with their Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2021…

The assessment of any great winery is surely measured by how well they make their largest and most commercially available estate wine. In the case of Klein Constantia, it has been thrilling to see winemaker Matt Day pushing the boundaries of quality and complexity on the estate’s main white release. Not content to merely make something that is commercially appealing, the team at Klein Constantia have over the past few years doubled their efforts to reclaim premium Sauvignon Blanc as Constantia’s number one global calling card.

While the experimentation and single vineyard expressions are fun to taste and write about, it is most pleasing to see that everything they learn making these micro cuvées gets translated back into plain English when applied to improve the balance, texture and complexity of their estate Sauvignon Blanc, just like the Mercedes formula 1 team uses innovations learnt on the track to improve and enhance their commercial mass market models. With intent and focus behind a wine brand like this, how can you not want to fill your cellar with their offerings!

Klein Constantia Sauvignon Blanc 2021, Constantia’s Valley, 13.5% Abv.

This 2021 made from over 40 separate parcels employing up to 25% skin contact, is a tantalising expression of pristine cool climate Sauvignon Blanc that combines the most intricate aromatic elements of white lemon blossom, grated lime peel, yellow grapefruit, freshly cut hedgerow and crunchy white peach. There is certainly a nervy saline green fruit crunch to the wine with the palate effortlessly weaving a dusty stony minerality seamlessly together with notes of spicy gooseberry, lemon grass, lime cordial, green apple and lashings of more white citrus and tangerine. This is a very distinguished expression that can be appreciated by serious Loire connoisseurs as well as weekend drinkers looking for a classy fresh glass of premium Sauvignon Blanc to compliment sushi and fresh seafood. This is Constantia Sauvignon Blanc at its versatile best.

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

The Ultimate Chameleon Brand – Tasting the Diemersdal Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020…

On my recent trip to South Africa, I finally popped my cherry and tasted the much talked about Diemersdal New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2020 from Marlborough. Already the third vintage in the collaboration between this South African estate and New Zealand producer Ben Glover from Glover Family Vineyards, tasting this wine inspired me to write a column for Winemag.co.za on chameleon brands. Read here: https://winemag.co.za/wine/opinion/greg-sherwood-mw-is-there-merit-in-chameleon-wine-brands/

The grapes for the 2020 were machine harvested at 21.2 Balling and crushed and destemmed reductively. The juice was co-inoculated with X5 and VL3 yeast which enhance some of the thiol notes but maintain the vibrant ripe herbaceous notes of the vineyard. The approximate time of fermentation was around 2 weeks, at around 12/13°C. The wine was then left on its lees for 3 to 4 weeks before racking and a small SO2 addition. The wine spent a further two months on its fine lees before bottling.

Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Marlborough, New Zealand, 12.5% Abv.

3.6 g/l RS | 7.8 g/l TA | 3.18 pH

First nosing of this Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc indicates that there is a lot going on in the glass. The aromatics are classical and subtle but equally complex with notes of pithy white citrus, green apple cordial, white peach, dried herbs and savoury tinned petit pois nuances. The palate is taut and crisp with a strict linear structure in the mouth bolstered by cool, clean green crunchy acids and layers of green papaya, crunchy pears, apple pastille and peach fruits. Never too fruity or too pungent, but always cool and crystalline with some lovely limestone minerality on the finish, this is quite a grown-up expression of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from the Wairau Valley. Drink now and over the next 2 to 3 years.

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Cullen Wines 50th Anniversary Tasting on 29th July 2021 with Vanya Cullen…

Cullen Wines is a certified biodynamic, carbon neutral and naturally powered estate, with a philosophy summed up in three simple words: ‘Quality, Integrity and Sustainability’. Celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2021, it is one of the oldest and most awarded family wineries in Western Australia’s famous Margaret River region. First established in 1971 by Dr Kevin and Diana Cullen, the winery has built an impressive reputation for biodynamic wines over the years.

Di and Kevin’s youngest daughter Vanya, who has worked at the winery since 1983, became Chief Winemaker in 1989 and Managing Director in 1999. She has worked tirelessly to develop the winery over this time, first introducing organic farming in 1998 and then, in 2004, saw it classified as a fully certified biodynamic estate. In 2000, she was named the Qantas/The Wine Magazine Winemaker of the Year, becoming the first Western Australian, and the first woman, to do so.

In 2019, celebrating 30 years at the helm, Vanya received double Winemaker of the Year honours at both the Australian Women in Wine Awards and the Halliday Wine Companion Awards. In July 2021, I was one of a lucky handful of tasters to hook up with Vanya Cullen in London via zoom to taste through an exciting selection of the winery’s current releases.

Cullen Wines Mangan Vineyard Margaret River Sauvignon / Semillon 2019, 12.4% Abv.

Wonderfully subtle, complex aromatics with delicate notes of white peach, green apple, green nettles, white pepper and cut grass underpinned by a fabulous slatey minerality. Palate is bright and crystalline, tart and fresh with a lemon / lime acidity, and a racy palate of white citrus, lime peel and lemon grass. An electric wine!

(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Cullen Wines Cullen Vineyard Margaret River Sauvignon / Semillon 2017, 12.4% Abv.

A cooler vintage, the aromatics show a lovely melange of fruit salad and subtle oak notes leading to hints of wet slate white flowers and subtle petrichor notes with just the slightest nuance of wet grass. Cool and racy, there is a fine line of acidity that is balanced by layers of white peach, green apple and tangy yellow citrus. Zesty, pithy and wonderfully cool climate in style with purity and linearity.

(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Cullen Wines Amber Wilyabrup Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc 2020, 13% Abv. 

A complex aromatic profile with layers of vermouth spices, chalk board duster, peach stone fruits, green tea, jasmine and bitter orange. Certainly fresh, bright and pure with plenty of skin contact phenolic spice (10 days in 300L amphorae and tank). On the palate the acids are mellow and tangy, the yellow orchard fruits cool and soft textured with a fine dusty mineral grip. A lovely characterful wine that is seductively exotic with its bitters and negroni-style finish. The perfect gourmet wine selection.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Cullen Wines Kevin John Wilyabrup Chardonnay 2019, 13.5% Abv.

Yields were reduced in 2019 due to frosts but the rest of the growing season was kind yielding high quality fruit. The wine saw 100% malolactic fermentation and spent eight months in 30% new French oak puncheons and barriques. The aromatics are dusty and spicy, lifted and citrusy with plenty of white flowers, orange blossom, green pear and tangerine cordial. The palate is cool and bright showing a real sweet and sour tangy acidity, massive orange and tangerine fruit concentration with real intensity and expansive depth. Plenty of lime peel, honeysuckle, fig, toffee apple and sweet vanilla pod spice.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Cullen Wines Red Moon Mangan Vineyard Wilyabrup Malbec / Petit Verdot 2018, 13% Abv. 

Fermented with natural yeasts, 57% of the wine was matured for five months in seasoned French oak barriques with the balance in stainless steel, being bottle without fining. The nose is deep and broody with plenty of black chai tea, delicate notes of spearmint and black currant and subtle hints of black plum and pomegranate. The palate is plush and lush, filled with plummy, sappy, mulberry and black berry fruits, juicy black cherry acids, finishing with a long, mellow, pithy fine-grained mineral tannin finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 91/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Cullen Wines Mangan East Block Margaret River Malbec / Petit Verdot 2019, 13.5% Abv. 

Made from grapes harvested from the prime sections of the Mangan vineyard, fruit was destemmed, basket pressed and vinified to accentuate the fruit flavours of the grapes, before being aged for five months in 45% new French oak barrels. The aromatics are richer, deeper and broader with vibrant notes of sappy plum, mulberries, melted chocolate and a melange of black forest berry fruits. The acids are crunchy and the palate loaded with mocha laced black currant, spicy plum, mulberry and hints of bramble berries. Fine structure, impressive density and a long, spicy bitter chocolate finish.

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Cullen Wines Diana Madeline Wilyabrup Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot 2019, 13.5% Abv. 

A premier selection of fruit, the grapes were naturally fermented before being basket pressed to barrel where the wine was matured for 15 months in oak of which 45% was new French oak. The aromatics show lovely black berry and red cherry fruits, raspberry herbal tea, hedgerow spice and a fine, leafy vanilla pod complexity. The palate is intense and concentrated, tangy, vibrant and fresh, with a wonderfully lithe textural elegance, an effortlessly classical mouthfeel and a long, suave, powdery tannin grip finish. Very smart in its youth, sure to be even greater with cellar age.

(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Cullen Wines Margaret River Late Harvest Chenin Blanc 2020, 8.3% Abv.

A cool pale light lemon yellow colour in the glass, the aromatics are expressive and pure but also wonderfully subtle with notes of my yellow citrus pastille, pear purée, passion fruit cordial and green mango hints. The palate is soft, cool and very elegant with a very genteel nature, a soft creamy mouthfeel, supple tangy acids balanced by pure sweet green and yellow orchard fruit and baked apple concentration. Very accessible and smart.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

(The UK importer of Cullen Wines is Liberty Wines)

Duncan Savage’s Follow-up Salt River Sauvignon Blanc 2021 Release Hits the Thirsty UK Market…

Last year Duncan Savage agreed to produce a special release single varietal Sauvignon Blanc made from 32-year-old vines from a Stellenbosch vineyard that was originally destined primarily for on-trade by the glass wine sales. Of course, the pandemic and lockdown hit and much of the wine found alternative routes to market through select independent wine merchants as well as some restaurants in London, New York and across the US East Coast. The small production wine was an instant hit, appealing to all the most committed and fervent of Savage wine fans. So, it was inevitable that a follow up vintage would be forthcoming for this growing brand.

The 2021 vintage is another cracker of a wine with an increased production coming from roughly 50% Stellenbosch fruit and 50% Stanford fruit. This Sauvignon Blanc was fermented in a combination of stainless-steel tanks, concrete eggs and old barrels. The wine spent four months in these vessels before being bottled, followed by a further two months in bottle prior to release. Approximately 30,000 bottles were produced for export to the UK and USA.

Speaking to Duncan Savage, he tells me that the project has simply taken on a life of its own and in 2022, he plans to incorporate addition fruit material into the blend sourced from Danie Carinus’s vineyards in the Polkadraai Hills and also some fruit from the Karibib vineyards where producers like Bernard Bredell and Mick & Jeanine Craven source much of their fruit.

Savage Salt River Sauvignon Blanc 2021, WO Western Cape, 13.5% Abv.

Due to the increased production, the bottling of the 2021 Salt River Sauvignon Blanc will necessitate multiple bottling runs. The sample I tasted was from the initial bottling while additional stock will be released from slightly later bottled wine which has spent additional beneficial time on its fine lees in tank. But already, the wine shows a wonderfully expressive textural balance with attractive aromatics of honey suckle, green pear, camomile iced tea, pineapple pastille and crunchy white peaches. The palate is soft, fresh and seamless with a caressing mouthfeel, tangy tangerine citrus acids, notes of white peaches, yellow grapefruit and pithy, stony mineral tannins. Another beautiful creation that benefits from being open and given plenty of air. Drink this delicious Sauvignon Blanc on release but don’t be shy to age a few sneaky bottles for 3 to 5 years.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Some Exciting New Sauvignon Blanc Releases from 2020 – Tasting the Painted Wolf Lightning…

After eight days of extensive tastings for the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2021 as the South African panel chair, it became very apparent that the 2020 vintage Sauvignon Blancs being released at the moment offer up a real treasure trove of styles and expressions, but all exceptional quality from entry level pricing all the way up to premium single vineyard releases.

This excellent Painted Wolf Sauvignon Blanc made by the talented Jeremy Borg, is named after Lightning, thought to be one of the most famous endangered wild dogs living in the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Made from pristine cool climate Walker Bay coastal fruit, this wine exemplifies the quality of many of the premium examples hitting the retail shelves now. Don’t miss out!

(Other cool climate Sauvignon Blanc expressions from nearby to watch out for include Wild Air from Hannes Storm, Southern Right and Creation.)

Painted Wolf Lightning Sauvignon Blanc 2020, WO Walker Bay, 12.5% Abv.

The grapes for this wine were hand picked, hand sorted and whole bunch pressed then fermented in large French oak barrels and a solitary concrete egg using only natural wild yeasts. The aromatics are beautifully pure and high toned with spicy notes of fresh lemon grass, pithy white citrus peel, capsicum and hints of crushed gooseberries. Any oak notes are incredibly delicate and seamlessly integrated highlighting the extreme precision with which this classy Sauvignon Blanc was assembled. The palate is fabulously cool, crystalline and pure laced with crunchy green fruits, subtle green herbs, yellow grapefruit, hints of bell pepper spice and finishes with a stony, flinty, wet river pebble length. Compact, vibrantly cool climate with crunchy acids and wonderfully balanced, this is another class act from Jeremy Borg. Drink now until 2025+.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Franschhoek’s La Motte Winery Continues to Strive for Vinous Excellence…

I first met CEO of La Motte, Hein Koegelenberg, in London of all places in mid-March 2018. Tasting through their impressive range of wines with their newly appointed importer, The Wine Treasury, was most enjoyable and enlightening. These were after all some of the wines I had cut my teeth on in the early 1990s when I was working as a commodity trader in Johannesburg spending my hard-earned cash filling up my newly established wine cellar in Pretoria with some of South Africa’s finest red wines. Scratch on the shelves today and you might find some of my treasured bottles of La Motte Shiraz from 1993, 1994 and 1995 or maybe even one of my last bottles of La Motte Millennium 1990 red blend. These are historic wines that hold a special place in my wine development landscape as well as for many South Africans.

With lockdown looming hard and large, we have certainly missed all our regular South African winemaking tourists passing through London to taste the new vintage releases. But as they say, if Mohammed can’t go to the mountain, well then, the mountain must come to Mohammed… and I recently had a wonderful opportunity to taste through the current releases from the stunning La Motte Franschhoek Estate and was impressed with the all-round quality as ever.

La Motte Sauvignon Blanc 2021, WO Western Cape, 12.5% Abv.

3.0 g/l RS | 7.3 g/l TA | 3.39 pH

This 2021 Sauvignon Blanc was made from a blend of grapes sourced in Franschhoek (25%), Stellenbosch (50%) and the Cape South Coast (25%). With multiple vineyards grown in different microclimates and on different terroirs, the final wine in bottle has been expertly blended to ensure ample ripeness with juicy freshness, no overt leafy pyrazine characters but certainly plenty of attractive cool climate purity. A reductive fermentation process in stainless steel was carried out with the wine being left on its fine lees to enhance the tropical flavours. To further add to the complexity, 8% of Semillon was blended into the wine before bottling on the 10th April 2021.

A deliciously vibrant, expressive style of Cape Sauvignon Blanc, this wine displays an impressive purity and crystalline cool vintage clarity of green citrus fruits, green apple, lemon and lime zest and a subtle suggestion of Cape gooseberry. There is just enough fleshy tropical complexity to make this wine very appealing to lovers of fine New Zealand style Sauvignon Blanc with a cool 12.5% alcohol supporting an electric acidity and energetic depth of fruit. There is plenty of mouth coating richness, a fleshy glycerol opulence and a long, cool, spicy green herb-tinged finish with tangy acids that keep you coming back again and again for another sip. I’m not sure what more you could want from a young, fresh, unoaked Sauvignon Blanc? Delicious! Drink now and over the next 2 to 3 years.

(Wine Safari Score: 90+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

La Motte The Pierneef Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2020, WO Cape South Coast, 12.62% Abv.

1.8 g/l RS | 6.8 TA | 3.25 pH

The Pierneef Collection is a range of wines from La Motte forming a part of their more premium range as a tribute to the famous South African artist Jacob Hendrik Pierneef (1886-1957), one of South Africa’s most collectable artists, with each new bottling labelled with a different piece of his art. The 2020 Pierneef Collection Sauvignon Blanc is a blend of 94% Sauvignon Blanc from Elim, Napier and Elgin and 6% Semillon from Elim, all vineyards that now fall under the Cape South Coast region. After four drought vintages from 2015 to 2018, the 2019 season was much more moderate and saw the Cape’s vineyards build up their water reserves which boded well for the follow up 2020 crop. The grapes were afforded 16 hours of skin contact before fermentation and then another 5 months post-fermentation ageing on fine lees before blending. The wine was bottled in August 2020 and 30,000 bottles were produced.

On the nose, this wine is unmistakably cool climate Sauvignon Blanc with all the herby, pithy, spicy, saline notes you’d expect to find on cooler, Coastal Cape Sauvignon. Together with classic Thiol notes of white citrus, Cape Gooseberry and bell pepper, there is an attractive underlying dusty crushed limestone minerality, hints of green apple pastille, lime peel and lemon grass spices. Medium bodied with bright glassy acids but also a wonderfully harmonious textural balance, this is a serious offering for more serious Sauvignon Blanc connoisseurs that celebrates the diversity of premium cool climate coastal maritime styles. Drink on release or cellar for 6 to 8+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

La Motte Franschhoek Chardonnay 2019, WO Franschhoek, 13.4% Abv.

2.2 g/l RS | 6.0 g/l TA | 3.37 pH

While many of Franschhoek’s top wines are produced from grapes sourced from all over the Cape, this Chardonnay is made from fruit grown on the La Motte farm in Franschhoek from vineyards located at 200 metres above sea-level on south and southwestern facing slopes. The vineyard soils are mostly sandstone and granite in origin with the oldest blocks planted in 1997. For the 2019 Chardonnay, 100% the grapes were whole bunch pressed with 66% fermented in 300 litre French oak barrels with malo and 33% in stainless steel without malolactic fermentation. Post ferment, the wines saw regular lees stirring while ageing 12 months in 25% new French oak. After ageing, the wines were blended and bottled in May 2020.

The aromatics on this 2019 Chardonnay boast luxurious zesty notes of tangerine peel, pressed oranges and fragrant citrus blossom together with notes of vanilla pod spice, dried pistachio nuts and lemon butterscotch. The palate is round, creamy and harmonious with a fine textural balance of tangy orange and yellow citrus fruits, succulent white peach and green apple pastille. There is a lovely finesse and fine-tuned elegance to the wine that shows impressive persistence of flavour and a complex leesy, savoury lemon bon bon finish. Enjoy this ‘ready-to-go’ Chardonnay now and over the next 2 to 3+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 91/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

La Motte Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, WO Western Cape, 13% Abv.

3.2 g/l RS | 6 g/l TA | 3.39 pH

The grapes for this 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon are sourced from two regions including 67% from Stellenbosch and 33% from Franschhoek. 2018 was of course the fourth in a series of drought vintages and resulted in a small, concentrated crop of grapes -15% down on 2017 or the lowest crop in a decade and a half. The Stellenbosch portion of fruit was machine harvested before being transported to the La Motte cellar in Franschhoek while the Franschhoek grapes were hand harvested. All grape batches were fermented separately in stainless steel before being aged for 16 months in 300 litre French oak barrels, 33% new, 33% second fill and 34% older barrels. After blending, the wine was bottled in November 2019. 84,000 bottles were produced.

This Cabernet Sauvignon displays classical aromatics of saline cassis, sweet cedar spice, dried mint leaf, iodine, seashore kelp and subtle hints of graphite, iron and blood. Youthfully piquant but also lush on the palate, like a true 2018 Cabernet, this wine takes a little bit of time to open its shoulders before revealing its full potential. The palate shows an attractive opulence and a fleshy, creamy black cocoa powder complexity with notes of tart black currant, black cherry, crunchy sour plum and a long, mouth-watering finish marked by wonderfully subtle integrated oak spice characters and a delicate kiss of salty liquorice. Ample minerality and more than sufficient structure suggest you can drink this now with a short decant or else cellar for at least 5 to 8+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 91/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

La Motte Syrah 2017, WO Franschhoek, 13.69% abv.

2.3 g/l RS | 5.6 g/l TA | 3.44 pH

The Syrah grapes for this wine are all sourced from the La Motte Wine Estate in Franschhoek from vines that are between 10 and 30 years old, situated on varying sandstone and granitic soils at between 200 and 300 metres altitude. While 2017 was the third of the drought vintages in the Cape, it also managed to somehow deliver the raw materials to make some of the greatest red wines ever seen in the Cape. Following a lower than average rainfall in the preceding winter, flowering and fruit set conditions were favourable and followed by a long, dry ripening season with cool nights and a distinct lack of heat waves resulting in very healthy grapes with excellent concentration. For this Syrah, the grapes were 100% destemmed and the whole berries fermented in stainless steel tanks. The finished wine was matured in 300 litre French oak barrels for 14 months, 30% of which were new. Unusually, to add some extra colour to the wine, a 15% portion of Durif (Petit Syrah) was added to the blend. It seems the phenomenally successful 2017 vintage was equally as generous to the quality of premium Syrah wines as it was to top Cabernet Sauvignon and Cape Bordeaux Blends that have lit up critical wine ratings globally.

This is an attractive wine that reveals a wonderfully seductive, generous and elegant expression of Franschhoek Syrah. Dense, dark and opaque, though some of this might be due to a little extra Petit Syrah turbo charging, the aromatics show perfumed notes of earthy lily flowers, black plum, salty black liquorice, black olive tapenade and bruleed Christmas pudding nuances. Complex and layered, there is a sleek meaty, savoury stratum with sweet peppercorn nuances and hints of molasses spice. For all the ripeness, the palate lacks no freshness and is brimming with blue berry and black currant fruits buffered by a subtle chalky mineral tannin and a cool, long oregano and thyme-tinged dried herb finish. A serious effort for the money.

(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

La Motte The Pierneef Collection Syrah 2017, WO Western Cape, 13.8% Abv.

2.8 g/l RS | 6.0 g/l TA | 3.46 pH

Though not part of the ultra-premium range from La Motte, this wine still has got to be one of the estate’s most impressive quality red offerings. The fruit for this blend originates from 90% Syrah from Elim, 5% Syrah from Walker Bay and 5% Viognier from Franschhoek. Small berries with thick skins and intense fruit flavours in 2017 made for a very serious vintage offering. Some of the Syrah batches were harvested at the same time as the Viognier, sourced in Franschhoek, in order for the grapes to be co-fermented together. After fermentation, the wine was matured for 14 months in 55% new French oak barrels after which time the components were all blended together and then returned to barrel for a further 4 months of ‘marriage’. The wine was bottled in November 2018.

Based on the classical Cote Rotie blend of red and white grapes, this really is a spectacularly well-made wine delivered with intensity, complexity and balance. The aromatics are instantaneously recognizable as being different with the extra tell-tale perfumed lift and peachy bon bon rock candy aromatics from the Viognier that melt into the dark, saline, salty liquorice and black currant fruit nuances of the intense, maritime Elim Syrah. Dark, seductive and decidedly cool and coastal in its profile, this wine sucks up the new oak portion to leave an almost imperceptible purity of tart black berry fruits with just the most subtle lick of creamy warm buttered brown toast smothered in black currant and watermelon preserve on the long finish. Cool, dense, weightlessly concentrated and texturally compact with a high degree of finesse and polish make for a real ‘wow’ wine. Drink this wine now after a good 2 hour decant or else cellar for a further 10 to 12+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

(Wines are distributed to trade in the UK by The Wine Treasury.)

Klein Constantia Estate – Mastering Site-Specific Sauvignon Blanc in the Cape…

The Klein Constantia emphasis has recently been re-engineered and re-imagined with a renewed emphasis on the exceptional Sauvignon Blanc terroirs of this ancient Constantia estate. With the Vin de Constance sweet wine project reaching new heights of quality annually together with the accompanying international critical praise, this has allowed the powers at Klein Constantia to dedicate more thought and resources to the future potential of Sauvignon Blanc as well as the red wines at Anwilka in Stellenbosch.

Chatting to head winemaker Matt Day recently, he explained that he has learnt a lot from the single vineyard block wines over the past few years as well as from the Metis joint-venture project with Pouilly Fume producer Pascal Jolivet, inspiring him and his team to refocus and refine the knowledge and knowhow acquired over the past years and channel it into the estate’s white Sauvignon Blanc wine range. In the past, the single block wines have acted as the research and development lab for the estate and now it is time to put this knowhow to greater commercial use in raising the quality profile of first and foremost, Klein Constantia’s main Sauvignon Blanc Estate wine.

Ahead of World Sauvignon Blanc Day celebrated from the 7th to the 9th of May, I tasted through Klein Constantia’s exciting new releases and was simply bowled over by the world class quality.

Klein Constantia Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2020, WO Constantia

13.8% Abv. | 3.3pH | TA 5.8 | RS 1.8

Up to 36 different blocks from vines grown on Granite and Sandstone soils are used in this impressive Sauvignon Blanc blend with around 80% of grapes fermented using wild fermentation to produce on average 120,000 bottles. No sulphur is used at crushing and fermentation temperatures start at 14 to 15 deg C before being cooled down to 12 deg C, before finally being raised at the end of fermentation back up to 15 deg C to finish off.

An attractive, complex Sauvignon Blanc that thrives on expressing a blend of the cool climate Klein Constantia sites that show a delicious melange of bitter / savoury / umami and saline characters. With the Sandstone soil sites offering richer and rounder flavours and the granitic soils tauter, more mineral, pithy white citrus characters, this vintage reveals a wonderfully rich textured and expressive palate that is loaded white citrus, yellow grapefruit, gooseberry, mango peel, apple puree, freshly cut grass and quince preserve. Fabulously constructed with delicious mid-palate balance, notable concentration and a long alluring finish. This is a fantastic vintage for Sauvignon Blanc, Klein Constantia and lovers of intricate Sauvignon Blanc.

(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Klein Constantia Metis Sauvignon Blanc 2018, WO Constantia

14% Abv | 3.26 pH |6.5 TA | 2.2 RS

Metis is a wine that grew out of a historic collaboration with Loire producer Pascal Jolivet and pushes Constantia Sauvignon to the limits in an attempt to emulate a more Sancerre style of winemaking with oxidative must handling, 100% wild ferment used and 20% neutral oak fermentation and then ageing, with the resulting wine left for 9 months in barrel before being racked to stainless steel tanks, back blended and aged in tank for a further three months.

2018 was a hot early drought vintage and despite Constantia suffering less vintage variation than hotter inland areas due to the tempering effect of the ocean, the Metis is still boasts a bold 14% alcohol yet remains incredibly cool, classical and mineral with a pronounced stony, grey slate character. The style of winemaking tries to accentuate the philosophical Old World roots of Metis and boasts vineyards with altitude and that are rich in granitic soils. The character of the wine reveals layers of limestone, savoury lime peel, citrus, salinity and yellow grapefruit notes and finishes with a long tangy, peppery, concentrated flinty intensity. Fabulous balance, mouth watering acidity and an overall feeling of liquid minerality. An impressively different expression.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Klein Constantia Perdeblokke Sauvignon Blanc 2020, WO Constantia

13.8% Abv | 3.08 pH | 7.0 TA | 2.2 RS

The first single vineyard wine produced since 2005. Pungent, bold, expressive and made in a punchy style that’s made to assault the senses with its intensity. Fermation was begun in stainless steel and 100% barrel finished for the final 2/3rds of fermention. There is nothing shy about this wine and in 2020, it is loaded with even more intensity and Sauvignon Blanc fire power. The aromatics burst with black currant leaf, orange citrus, umani savoury notes, rich tangerine peel, flinty spice, fresh naartjies and quince with subtle cut grass and root fennel savoury nuances that will almost certainly acquire rudimentary notes of cat’s pee on a gooseberry bush with further bottle development. Full bodied and precise while never erring on the side of heavy, this wine will drink wonderfully in its youth due to its mouth-watering acidity and intense fruit concentration.

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Klein Constantia Clara Sauvignon Blanc 2020, WO Constantia

13.38% Abv | 3.16 pH | 6.8 TA | 2.4 RS

Normally a blend of predominantly blocks 372, 381, and the 361 organic block as well as oddments of other blocks all aged in 500 litre French oak and acacia barrels, 30% new. After fermentation, the best barrels are selected from the best blocks and the wine is made in a more opulent, punchy style primarily for the US market, with more richness, texture and generally more rounder Bordeaux style white characters. 30% of the fermentation completed in tank before being transferred to barrel with the fine lees to complete fermentation.

Klein Constantia are said to be aiming for a bolder, richer Bordeaux Blanc style with the Clara, displaying pear, pineapple, yellow grapefruit pastille and a riper and rounder texture. The end result is just splendid. There is indeed more richness and lees contact complexity, notes of kiwi fruits, acacia wood and an overall rounding influence of oak without the wine showing any overt oaky characters per se. Rich, intense, plush and textured, this is seriously grown-up Sauvignon Blanc with sensational concentration, intensity and length. I am certainly sold! What a beauty.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Klein Constantia Block 382 Sauvignon Blanc 2019, WO Constantia

13.87% Abv | 3.19 pH | 6.8 TA | 2 RS

One of the gems in the Klein Constantia portfolio, these three segmented parcels of the Block 382 are located on almost directly South facing slopes at 320 metres above sea level on grainy granitic soils. Block 382.1 is trellised and Block 382.2 and 382.3 are 100% bush vines. In some vintages, they only use the trellised vines and in others, like 2019, only the bush vines which were fermented and aged for 20 months in 500 litre barrels before bottling.

Matt Day says if he could make just one Sauvignon Blanc every year from the estate, he would want it all to taste like the 2019 Block 382. The wine presents an intricate nose of gun smoke, wet stones, struck flint and savoury, briney maritime notes. The palate is packed full of gooseberry, prickly acids, grassy green pear, green apple bolstered by a fleshy, glycerol mid-palate, tart lime, gooseberry and a rock salt, briney finish. Super complex, very stable from extended ageing, Matt describes this iconic wine as “bullet proof” and one for the long haul. In my experience, it is certainly one of the most profound expressions of Sauvignon Blanc I have tasted from South Africa in many, many years. Track it down if you can!

(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Cantina Terlano – Tasting the Nova Domus Riserva 2017 From the Most Famous White Wine Co-operative in the World…

Founded in 1893, the Cantina Terlano winery is now regarded as one of the leading wine growers’ cooperatives in South Tyrol, Italy, with a current membership of 143 growers working a total area of 190 hectares. That is the equivalent of some 1.5 million bottles of wine a year overseen by head winemaker Rudi Kofler.

Cantina Terlano and their members have long had a strong focus on quality which has attracted praise and recognition on not only the local Italian market but also on all international fine wine markets. If there are better white wines produced by a co-operative anywhere else in the world I’d like to know about it! Indeed, many of their iconic and memorable wines from the 1950s and 1960s, which rank amongst the greatest white wines ever produced, were made at Cantina Terlaner.

The unique microclimate at the foot of Mount Tschöggel determines the potential age-worthiness and the characteristics of these wines. The soils are very rich in schists and porphyry, a rocky nature that allows for heat accumulation and excellent water drainage.

I write a lot about the fascinating white blends made in South Africa, but the Alto Adige DOC is another one of the few areas in the world that also champions premium white blends of exceptional quality. This cuvee Nova Domus Riserva is a classical regional blend of Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Cantina Terlano Nova Domus 2017 Terlaner Riserva, Alto Adige Terlano DOC, 14% Abv.

This is one of the most seductive and majestic Italian white wines I’ve tasted in a long time. The nose suggests great precision and restraint with focused complexity, showing subtle notes of white flowers, dried baking herbs, waxy green apples, crunchy pineapple, sea breeze and a stony minerality. The palate is taut and restrained initially but then slowly starts to reveal plenty of pineapple pastille, apple purée, green pear fruits and the most precise, structured, crystalline purity on the finish. The use of more older oak (compared to earlier vintages) is noticeable allowing the pristine fruit purity and terroir minerality to really shine. This is certainly an Italian Grand Cru white of exceptional quality. Drink now and over 10+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Tasting the Special Limited Release Salt River Sauvignon Blanc 2020 from Duncan Savage…

Duncan’s previous life at Cape Point Vineyards is certainly well documented, for it was during his tenure there as head winemaker that he pretty much perfected the art of producing iconic Sauvignon Blanc. In 2019 Duncan happened to stumble upon a 32 year old block of bush vine Sauvignon Blanc in Stellenbosch. The elevation, wind and vine age all pointed in the right direction and after a bit of experimentation, the Salt River Sauvignon Blanc label was born.

It seems Duncan fell in love with the wine and vineyard and along with his UK importer Swig Wines, decided to create a new brand and style separate from the rest of the Savage Wines range. Salt River is in the heart of the city of Cape Town, and is of course where Duncan’s trendy urban winery can be found. As Duncan’s UK importer Swig Wines points out, “Salt River is very reminiscent of an edgy Shoreditch in London a few years back.”

Duncan in his Salt River winery in Cape Town’s city centre.

This Sauvignon Blanc was fermented in a combination of stainless steel tanks, concrete eggs and old barrels. The wine spent four months in these vessels before being bottled, followed by a further two months in bottle prior to release. Only 500 cases of this wine were produced.

Savage Salt River Sauvignon Blanc 2020, WO Stellenbosch, 13.5% Abv.

RS 2 g/l | pH 3.3 | TA 6.4 g/l

This has all the hallmarks of an expert Sauvignon Blanc master negotiating the ripeness and pungency of this variety with extreme precision. Beautifully complex and intense, the aromatics show notes of freshly cut fennel, green asparagus, yellow baking apples, waxy lemon peel and hints of fresh wet thatch. On the palate, it’s just as impressive with nervy, pithy yellow grapefruit peel zest, white citrus spice, tangerine and glycerol peach liquor nuances on the saline finish. This is next level Sauvignon Blanc that will appeal to novices and connoisseurs alike. Pop and pour!

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)