Raise a glass to celebrate International Sauvignon Blanc Day today with South African winemakers

Discover more about South African Sauvignon Blanc. Picture: Supplied

Discover more about South African Sauvignon Blanc. Picture: Supplied

Published May 3, 2024


South African winemakers are raising a glass to celebrate International Sauvignon Blanc Day this weekend from Friday, May 3 to Sunday, May 5.

When it comes to Sauvignon Blanc, there's more to it than just fruity flavours and being a popular choice.

Even its name, which means 'wild white', hints at something special. From newbies to wine experts, this grape refuses to be put in a box.

To mark International Sauvignon Blanc Day on Friday, we asked a few passionate Sauvignon Blanc makers from across the country to share a few facts about this versatile cultivar.

How the region and climate affects the flavour

Winemaker Dawid Nieuwoudt from Cederberg Wines thinks Sauvignon Blanc reflects the location where where it's from.

"This grape is very sensitive to the weather," says Nieuwoudt.

"That's why it tastes different depending on where it's grown.”

Nieuwoudt says you don't have to drink Sauvignon Blanc straight away.

"If it's grown in the right place, you can enjoy it years after it was made," he says.

RJ Botha from Kleine Zalze agrees.

"South Africa has lots of great places for Sauvignon Blanc, and each one makes something unique," he says.

Paardenkloof Estate, in Botrivier, is a biodiversity champion that makes cool climate single vineyard wines. Their wines reflect the minerality of the environment, the cool sea breeze, tropical elements of the sun, and mountain water running through the fynbos.

"Our grapes also take longer to ripen, which creates a complex Sauvignon Blanc that can stay in the bottle for a longer time," says owner Daphne Neethling.

Trizanne Barnard of Trizanne Signature Wines put the Cape South Coast on the world map with her Sauvignon Blanc. Diversity is the cornerstone of her winemaking philosophy, directing her sourcing of grapes. "The terroir of the Elim ward with its prevailing winds ensures a very cool ripening season, ideal for Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon," she says.

Exploring new woods

Conrad Vlok from Strandveld Winery said the last five years have been exciting for Sauvignon Blanc.

"Older vineyards are making better grapes, even in new areas," says Vlok.

"The light roasting of the barrels, which brings out soft, sweet vanilla flavours in the wine together with the long yeast contact in the barrels is producing a new generation of top Blanc Fume style wines from the cooler areas,” he says.

At Cape Point Vineyards, winemaker Riandri Visser says Sauvignon Blanc can be aged in oak barrels.

"The wind here helps make our Sauvignon Blanc special," says Visser. "And ageing it in oak gives it extra flavour."

Improving with age

Warren Ellis from Neil Ellis Wines said more people should try older Sauvignon Blanc.

"I want to thank all the sommeliers who are using older Sauvignon Blanc in their tastings," says Ellis.

Peter Pentz Jr from Groote Post Vineyards, near Darling and Yzerfontein, loves Sauvignon Blanc and says it’s one of South Africa’s biggest exports. Groote Post is home to the cool Seasalter, which has been been winning over those who are new to Sauvignon Blanc.

"South Africa is really good at making top-notch Sauvignon Blanc," says Pentz. "Our wines are highly regarded, and we should be proud of that."

Pentz says South African Sauvignon Blanc is like a jack of all trades—it can be serious, light, or fruity. It also shows off where it's from, giving you a taste of the place it grew. And it's not just about Sauvignon Blanc; it can blend well with other types of grapes, like Semillon.

[email protected]

IOL Lifestyle