Category Archives: sauvignon blanc

Always Right: Southern Right 2010 Sauvignon Blanc

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.

southernrightBetween 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.

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Filed under sauvignon blanc, Uncategorized, Walker Bay

Paul Cluver 2009 Estate Sauvignon Blanc

It’s time to start writing about South African wine again. After a hiatus during which I became a marathon runner and changed careers, I miss having this space to talk about my favorite wine region in the world. Without further ado:

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On Friday I headed out to Niagara to help rack some wine, and I had time to hang out at beautiful Eveningside Vineyards and enjoy the hot weather with a cold bottle of Paul Cluver 2009 sauvignon blanc in the shade of the vines (harvest is nearly upon us here in Niagara County, New York––take a look at those Cabernet Franc grapes!). I was very excited to see this bottle in a shop in Columbus, Ohio, when visiting my family there a few months ago; I know this producer to be highly regarded and have been dying for some good Elgin sauvignon blanc in this extremely hot summer season. To find an example from the 2009 vintage, an outstanding year for sauvignon blanc in Elgin, was quite lucky.

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The first sip made me swoon: chalky, lemony-lime notes on the nose and a mouthful of gooseberry on the palate. This is exactly how I remember the sauvignon blanc of SA’s cool-climate regions.

There is a fullness about the wine that complements the searing acidity; when I searched for technical information on the website I found that a small amount of oak-aged Semillon is blended in. I love the effect.

I’ll be heading to Ohio later this week to see family again, and I’ll be sure to look for another bottle of this; though it was great on its own, and a perfect respite from the heat, I would love to experience it with a Valencay cheese or some Portuguese sardines. If you live in Cape Town, do me a favor and have a glass of this on the waterfront or the beach with some fresh seafood as soon as possible; that’s exactly how I’d want to enjoy it.

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Filed under Elgin, Paul Cluver, sauvignon blanc