Many of us think New Zealand when we think about Sauvignon Blanc, but believe it or not, Sauv Blanc is done well in other places. South Africa is now one of those places. This wine is pleasant, and quite a nice value. This wine is a product of the Western Cape area of South Africa, and offers up some pleasant aromas, like lemongrass, citrus (lemon and bitter orange predominate), the tiniest bit of floral and melon. This wine treads a little lightly, perhaps a little too lightly, on some of the traditional Sauv Blanc characteristics, like that herby grassiness that is often prevalent in a Marlborough Sauv Blanc. Flavors are softly citrus with just a little spiciness, and the finish is short but clean. This wine was a nice accompaniment to fresh crab steamed in Old Bay.
Sometimes getting your first choice of something is good. Sometimes getting your second choice is even better. I was out with friends the other night when our second choice turned out to be perfectly delicious.
This wine is a deep and rich Bordeaux blend, roughly half Merlot, and balanced out with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. On the nose were dark fruits with leathery undertones. Slight hints of violet and char were also noticeable. The flavors stayed fresh and juicy. The tannins were fairly well structured and restrained, with nicely balanced acidity, resulting in a lush mouthfeel. The flavors opened up a little more after a few minutes, so decanting is an option. The finish had a light spice and was moderate in length. With an alcohol level of 14%, the wine was enjoyable with no unpleasant alcohol heat.
This wine paired particularly well with grilled filet mignon and haricot verts. This wine is a great value and worth exploring for yourself.
I was in a great little wine shop in Annapolis, Maryland (Mills Fine Wine & Spirits), and met Patrick Darr, a wine consultant at Mills with an amazing palate and knowledge of wine. Pat pulled this one out and handed it to me, and I think I jumped back two steps in surprise. A wine with a soda cap?! What?! Are you kidding?! After I stopped laughing, Pat assured me that this one was truly worth trying. So with bottle in hand, in a brown paper bag, I marched out of the store, feeling as though I just committed a crime of the highest order against all things wine.
When I got home I put the bottle, still in the bag, on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator and hoped that anyone who might open the door would never inquire about it. Every day I’d open the door and see that bag, wondering if I’d ever actually try it. If I did open it, I’d have to try it alone, of course. After all, what would my friends say?
Fast forward to today.
After a long week that felt more like an aeon, I came home to realize that I only had one sparkling wine chilling. After the horror movie music stopped playing in my head, I grabbed the bottle, stared at the label for a moment and ran to get the bottle opener. No fanfare of popping a cork. Just a the light sound of a little carbonation escaping. I poured a glass and took a sniff. It was light and familiar. Nice.
The aromas of this wine are quintessential Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc – grapefruit with maybe a little meyer lemon, and definitely a little tropical with pineapple and passion fruit. The herbs were there, too. A little grassy, and eucalyptus. Really nice. Then the taste. Very nice! Modestly carbonated, and full of flavor. The flavor perfectly matched the aromas. The acidity was really nice and lasted throughout the long, mineral finish.
It went really well with a round of pot stickers, and even better with lime cilantro shrimp. Unexpectedly fabulous!
I learned my lesson on this one. Don’t judge a wine by its cork, or lack thereof. It’s a great buy at under $20 (US), and I’m already looking forward to my next bottle!