In two situations that couldn’t have been more different, one wine has made an enormous impression on me in the past month; I can safely say it’s the most exciting South African wine I tried in the last year. Southern Right 2010 sauvignon blanc, a Walker Bay offering from a producer specializing in sauvignon blanc and pinotage (imported by Vineyard Brands), came highly recommended from coworkers at the wine retailer where I used to work (and now work again, part-time––the better to fulfill all my South African wine needs!), and I had the feeling my cheese-loving family would make good use of it at Christmastime.
Between the lazy glow of Christmas-morning present opening and the festive chaos of Christmas dinner preparation (my job this year, to my delight), there’s a wonderfully quiet afternoon period when my family usually takes time to enjoy presents such as books and movies, take naps, and maybe go for a walk. My sister and I were feeling peckish, so we laid out the leftover cheeses and tarts from last night’s hors d’oeuvres and cracked this bottle open.
I don’t really like seeing “quince” as a tasting note––who eats quince regularly, at least in my part of the world?––but I have had it, and the nose on this wine screamed of it, with lemon and lime peel nipping licking at the juicy core like a flame. Tangible minerality on the palate and through the finish made it clear this was cool-climate South African sauv blanc at its best: a tightrope-fine balance of steel and tangy fruit, and simply mouthwatering. With our cheeses and fig tarts this was perfection.
A couple of weeks later, my boyfriend and I attended a dinner party where a chef friend had an amazing menu of grilled salmon, crab cakes, smoked bacon-wrapped jalapenos stuffed with cheese, roasted vegetables, and other goodies planned; as soon as I saw the Southern Right sauvignon blanc at Gates Circle, a Buffalo wine shop we frequent, I knew we had to grab it. Sure enough, with perfectly cooked seafood and lightly roasted broccoli, this was a superb match and our table of friends downed the bottle in about fifteen minutes.
It’s no secret that I love South African sauvignon blanc, but this is one of the best I’ve had, and a steal at $14. Best of all, the winery donates a portion of proceeds from each bottle sold to the conservation of the right whales that visit the Walker Bay near the vineyards and for whom this farm its name. I don’t normally drink the same wine repeatedly, in the interest of variety, but this exception is destined to become a regular fixture at special occasions from now on.