Monday, April 20, 2015

Adventure and Value in South African White Wines

The Constantia region, located on the Cape Peninsula, is surrounded by
False Bay to the east and the Atlantic to the west. The ocean influence, mountains
and cooling fog make this a great place for exciting and racy white wines.
This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.

While touring the Cape winelands last year, I tasted many Bordeaux and Rhone blends from Stellenbosch, and some delicious Pinot Noirs from the Southern Cape. But the biggest wine-related revelation from my trip was the high quality and value of South African white wines.

I tasted a lot of exciting Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay wines, but one of my favorite white wines of the trip was
a Grenache Blanc, Viognier and Clairette blend that floored me with its freshness and sea-salty elegance. It’s not as easy to find a lot of South African white wines here in the States, but they’re out there.

I recently tasted through three South African white wines that were delicious and full of value. These were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2013 Bouchard Finlayson Blanc de Mer - South Africa, Cape South Coast
SRP: $16
Light gold color. Smells fresh, complex and exotic, richer notes of honey, guava and orange marmalade blend perfectly with white flowers, white pepper, seashells and chalk. Crisp and clean on the palate, easy to drink and very refreshing, yet the leaner qualities betray its complexity and richness. White peach, key lime pie, apricot, add in honeycomb, sea salt, jetty rocks, cucumber water, raw almonds, white tea. A deep sense of minerality. Long, refreshing, yet intense and young, with complexity to unpack with a few years in the cellar. Never heard of such a unique South African white blend: 53% Riesling, 21% Viognier, 10% Chardonnay, 8% Sauvignon Blanc, 6% Semillon and 2% Chenin Blanc. This deserves some serious attention on restaurant lists, as it’s made for seafood and spicy dishes. (90 points)

2014 Fleur du Cap Sauvignon Blanc Bergkelder Selection - South Africa, Western Cape
SRP: $10
Pale straw color. Bright and bursting with aromas, a nice mix of grapefruit and lime with richer notes of white peach nectar, some hints of jalapeno and white pepper but it doesn’t overwhelm the fruit. Crisp acid on the palate but lovely creaminess to the texture. Flavors of white peach, lime, grapefruit green apple and apricot blend together nicely. Notes of white pepper, mussel shell and sea salt add complexity. Quite long on the finish, which is clean and tangy. High quality for the price. (86 points)

2012 Backsberg Chenin Blanc - South Africa, Western Cape
SRP: $15
Light gold color. Floral and bright on the nose with quince, white peach, salted lime, notes of honeysuckle, baby’s breath and crusty sea salt (that’s a good thing). Pretty texture, moderate creaminess matched with tingling acid, forward but elegant. I love the flavor combo of lime, apricot, quince and white peach. Fruity complexity, but also notes of almonds, sea salt, green tea, honeysuckle and honeycomb. Very pretty and food-friendly. (88 points)

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