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Sauve and sophisticated or sprightly and stimulating, there are times when a sauvignon blanc fits the bill better than most other wines. One of these is when daytime temperatures hover well above the 40 degree mark and evenings don’t offer much relief. We had our fair share – more than, actually – of these sultry days earlier this month and well-chilled recently launched sauvignons were much appreciated.

Nitida’s sauvignons always guarantee pleasure, and the 2015 is no exception. In many respects a typical Durbanville example, presenting those green notes - lemongrass, green apple, green fig – but they don’t overwhelm, countered with an elegance, a richness often absent from others in this region. Three gold stickers indicate approval from other palates.

 

 From Franschhoek, La Motte presents classic, carefully made aristocrats, like their 2015 sauvignon blanc from the prestigious Pierneef Collection. This is one to keep or sip when the menu reflects gourmet items, whether seafood or salad. Like most wines in this range, there is restraint, although flavours of fig, apple, and gooseberry come through. Organically grown grapes from, I think, vineyards near Cape Agulhas, add to the appeal, along with a whiff of fynbos.

 

A pair of sauvignons from Groote Post, both 2015, the regular plus the superior Kapokberg, were both enjoyed, and voted the wines that helped to counter the heat best! They are made in similar refreshing style – loaded with green fruit, citrus and granadilla, but the Kapokberg wins with its complexity, notable mineral structure adding elegance. I do think a screwcap would not take away from its classiness, however. I detected a touch of that appealing and distinctive Darling dustiness in the regular sauvignon.

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Two boutique cellars, one well-established in historic Franschhoek the other a newbie on the Cape south coast both recently released flagship chardonnays that have attracted awards.

b2ap3_thumbnail_baleia-chard_20151218-134229_1.jpgLet's start with that latter: Baleia Wines are made on the farm Dassieklip which is near Vermaaklikheid and St Sebastian Bay, which is also called the country's whale nursery. No surprise, then that the Joubert family named their wine Baleia, Portuguese for whale, and that northern country also inspired the label for their Inge Chardonnay 2014, with its blue and white tiles and cherubs holding up vases.

The wine attracted double gold from  Michelangelo this year, along with gold from Veritas, a good start for this enjoyable, well-made wine, quite bold in character, offering plenty of fruit, and a little butterscotch on the nose. There's more than a hint of citrus as well and the oak is discernible but not overwhelming. Some 70% spent nine months in wood, made up of 30% new oak and the rest second fill, and this could well improve over the next couple of years.  They have a retail shop, deli and restaurant outside Riversdale, where the wine sells for R180.

GlenWood has been making fine chardonnays and shiraz for decades: tucked away in the Franschhoek valley, its not a cellar that seeks much publicity, but when their flagship Grand Duc chardonnay 2013 received five stars from Platter last month, they felt this was news worth sharing. The wine, a limited edition,  already boasts a double gold sticker, and it deserves both accolades. This is a patrician classic, a big wine in every respect, beautifully balanced, richness of cream and vanilla, integrated with the peach and citrus, and hints of almond on the palate. It spent 24 months in new oak and calls for gourmet fare, white meat or rich, creamy seafood treats. It can also be squirrelled away for at least five years to reach its potential. The cellar produces other praiseworthy chards, including an unoaked one. The Grand Duc costs R400.

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Doran, that unpretentious and inviting boutique farm and winery on the Paardeberg slopes, has done it again. While winelovers  are still discussing the merits of Incipio, that innovative shiraz with its 15% component of chenin, which has drawn great reviews from fundis and fans, Edwin, Andre and Martin released another stunner, their first white blend, Arya 2015.b2ap3_thumbnail_Doran-white-blend.jpg

In a word, it's delicious. It's also  classy, comprising 57% chenin, with 22% grenache blanc and 21% roussanne, it presents  crisp, dry, but fruity flavours, several fruit from pears to peaches can be discerned briefly. Light-hearted, yes, but this is a wine with some backbone and finishing with a little cream, that I think is extraordinarily good value at R59 from the cellar. 

The press release mentions that Andre Badenhorst and winemaker Martin Lamprecht may add another cultivar next time, or let the wine spend time in wood. Both should make for interesting future developments, but right now, this makes a summer special  and brilliant bargain that should not be missed.

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 b2ap3_thumbnail_Tanagra-team.jpgTeam Tanagra under the farm's gigantic Wild Fig b2ap3_thumbnail_Tanagra-Karoo-kapokbos.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_Tanagra-Faraway-portrait-picture.JPGOver the hills and faraway - no one wants to leave this retreat...b2ap3_thumbnail_Tanagra--Cabernet-Francs.jpg

It is tempting to wonder why a linguistics professor and successful businessman from Germany chose to give up life in the Old World and take on an historic, dilapidated farm in the McGregor valley,  but a large number of Tanagra fans is very pleased that they did.

Now, after a decade, the farm is looking wonderful, the distillery and winery are operating smoothly, the veld is pristine, the vineyards flourish and and the farm cottages provide simple, stylish, accommodation for visitors to unwind, explore, chill in delightful surroundings.

Recently WWF, the World Wide Fund for Nature, published an attractive coffee-table book, packed with information and stunning photographs, to mark 10 years of BWI, the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative whose members have set aside hundreds of hectares of their wine farms for conservation. The goal,  to preserve the flora and fauna of Cape regions, ranging from fynbos to renosterbos to succulent Karoo, has been hugely successful.

Tanagra is featured in a chapter on walking trails, and the farm’s three trails are well described: the Bluegum with its resident nest of a pair of African fish eagles, the Reed Route and the Old Dam and Vrolijkheid trail which includes an area where 40 species of indigenous plants are identified with signage.

Trails of Tanagra is also the name given to the farm’s small range of notable single vineyard wines, a trio carefully crafted by talented winemaker Lourens van der Westhuizen, who is well-known for making winning wines for farms all over the Little Karoo and Robertson regions.

The cabernet franc is one of the best I have sampled in years: the 2014 vintage costs R105 and is worth every cent, while the grapes are also the source for an outstanding and popular  blanc de noir, which is always in short supply (R60). For R90 you get either the cabernet sauvignon or shiraz, both 2013 vintages, and both impressive wines to pair with good red meat.

The range of grappas and eaux de vie need a whole article on themselves – suffice to say that these spiritous aperitifs and digestifs are impressing both local and European fans: I recommend anyone visiting the farm to make sure to taste the lemon and quince grappas, both unique and impressive.

While visitors from Europe fill the cottages on the farm at peak season, it’s worthwhile for South Africans to contact Robert and Anette Rosenbach to see what is available: First prize is Faraway Cottage, perched on a rise among fynbos, completely off the grid, yet with every mod con (except a microwave oven!)  But all of them are comfortable, beautifully maintained, and just the venue for a de-stressing weekend. And the Rosenbachs are ideal hosts, offering five-star hospitality that combines efficiency with friendliness while respecting visitors’ need for privacy.

See www.tanagra-wines.co.za for more info.

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Nitida-185_High-Res.JPGContributing estates NItida left and Durbanville Hills, below

The Durbanville Twelve is a great concept, one that not many other regions could copy, but that works superbly well in this verdant wine valley. Every February 12 farms on the route deliver one ton of sauvignon blanc grapes to a central location where they are crushed and de-stemmed. After 12 hours of skin contact, fermentation takes place at 12 -14 deg C. After seven months on the lees the wine is bottled and released in October at the annual Season of Sauvignon festival, and is sold from each of the participating farms at R75.

A single wine from one region, with grapes sourced from various soils and slopes: it offers a pretty unique taste of Durbanville, where the vibrant green flavours of their sauvignon blanc are always distinctive, but hard to define. If you are anticipating enjoying plenty of seafood this summer, this is the wine to chill – and to give away to other fans as well.

 

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