In my humble opinion this is the best South African Sauvignon Blanc and one to rival the finest Kiwi offerings – a yardstick against which so many New World SV’s get judged nowadays, especially in the UK. I always serve it to friends who love the varietal without telling them what it is (unmistakably a sauvignon blanc) but more importantly where it comes from.
90% of the time it prompts a very favourable response invariably followed by the question “is it from New Zealand?” Even though it draws comparisons with wines from that part of the world it is subtly different enough so as to be unique – I have not tasted another wine like it. If you like Sauvignon Blanc but find too many “samey”, particularly from NZ, then you have to try this.
In the heart of the Robertson Valley in the Western Cape, Springfield has an illustrious past. It has been owned by 4 generations of the same family who in turn are the 9th generation descendants of French Huguenots who came to South Africa to escape religious persecution in 1688. Much of the knowledge they brought with them is still used in the vineyards and winemaking process today.
The climate in the this part of the country is harsh and relatively dry so that irrigation is used to prevent grape stress but it also happens to be good for the promotion of natural yeasts present on the grapes used during the winemaking process and helps to keep the vineyards organic as possible.
The terroir is hostile, rocky and unforgiving and rich in lime – a quality that is passed on though the grape and ultimately the wines produced. The vines struggle for existence but it is often said that this makes them stronger to deliver of their best. They are planted in an East-West direction to maximise even-ripening, provide protection against the harsh sunlight and to optimise the effect of the cooling south-easterlies that blow through the region. The vines used for this wine are 24 years old grown on the prime site for the varietal. Harvested at night, the grapes are treated tenderly with minimal intervention in the cellar and given 18 days fermentation prior to 100 day lees contact followed by a slight filtration and bottling.
To the eye the wine is a crisp and clear light, greeny-yellow. On the nose the usual cut-grass fragrance gives way to minerals and earth followed by concentrated citrus and passion fruit and is not unlike champagne, but without the toast/biscuity flavour.
Taste-wise the wine has 2-3 layers – initially zesty and fresh citrus and gooseberry so synonymous of the varietal, followed by a dry, mineral and almost chalky edge with a long, dry follow-through and finish. Best served chilled between 6-8 degrees, the wine goes incredibly well with fresh oysters, abalone (perlemoen), mussels and smoked salmon and at Christmas time it is a good partner for turkey. It will develop further in the bottle and can be laid down for 2-3 years.
One of my all-time favourite wines I give it 95 out of 100.
Available at time of publication from Majestic for £10.99 a bottle.