jamie goode's wine blog

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Delicious SA Sauvignon at a good price

I've been slightly concerned by the direction that South African Sauvignon Blanc seems to have taken of late. The emphasis has been shifted towards methoxypyrazines - the grape-derived compounds that give that grassy, green pepper character. Now these can be positive in small doses, but when they're the main flavour signature, it's a bit yukky.

Here's a brilliantly balanced SA Sauvignon, that's also great value for money. It's from Warwick, who call themselves 'Warwick Estate' on the label where the grapes are estate grown, but here are just 'Warwick', presumably because the grapes are not all from the property: in South Africa, the term estate has a specific meaning.

Warwick Professor Black Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Stellenbosch, South Africa
This is a delicious, well balanced Sauvignon showing a mix of ripe, melony, peachy fruit with crisper herby, grassy, grapefruity notes. The overall effect is a wine that manages to be ripe and rich, yet fresh and crisp at the same time. Very stylishly done: one of the very best Cape Sauvignons around, and from far the most expensive. At the offer price, it's a total bargain. 89/100 (8.99 Waitrose, currently on offer at 6.79)

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Sauvignon and Pinotage: confronting prejudice

You'd think after a week of tasting some 500 wines, I'd be running away from the stuff. Aversion therapy, I think they call it.

Not a bit of it. Instead, my palate is like an athelete's body, finely honed by an intensive training regime, and working with even greater precision and discriminative power. [Deliberately silly, this bit.]

Two prejudices to face head-on, tonight. First, that Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is dull and predictable. Second, that all Pinotage is vile, filthsome stuff. Both prejudices prove to be ill-founded, on this occasion at least.

Mud House Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Marlborough, New Zealand
This is deliciously concentrated and fresh, with a lively, assertive cut-grass and green pepper herbaceousness, as well as piercing lemony, grapefruit pith fruit. A wake-up call to the palate. Deliciously intense and well balanced, this is a versatile wine that would match up well with some of the strong flavours of modern fusion cuisine. 90/100 (12, UK agent MMD Ltd)

Sizanani Pinotage 2006 Stellenbosch, South Africa
40% of this brand is owned by an employees trust (http://www.sizanani-wines.co.za/). It's a really gluggable, fruit-forward wine with soft sweet berry and dark cherry fruits countered by a bitter, plummy, tarry, slightly rubbery twist. The overall effect is of a juicy red wine with a sense of deliciousness and enough savouriness to make it work with take-away pizza or spaghetti bolognaise. It takes the slightly negative features of Pinotage and turns them into positives in the context of this wine, so I think it's worthwhile in the right context. 83/100 (5.99 Oddbins)

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