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At the peak of sauvignon blanc pleasure

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Shannon-James.jpgJames Downes shows off his Sanctuary Peak sauvignon blanc 2015 - the perfect choice for St Patrick's day sipping.

As a dedicated seasonal eater, it’s inevitable, I suppose, that I am also a seasonal drinker. Once summer has given way to autumn, I move from sauvignon blanc, semillon and cinsaut to chenin, chardonnay and pinot noir. As winter announces its chilly arrival I welcome shiraz along with cab franc. This is when local port and dessert wines become very inviting as well. The one exception is good white Cape blends, which I enjoy year round. These thoughts were inspired by a brilliant sauvignon blanc sipped recently, on an early March day with temperatures in the low thirties, the memory of which will probably sustain me until spring.

Shannon vineyards Sanctuary Peak’s 2015 sauvignon is a good example of just how fine Elgin sauvignons can be. There is little doubt that this elegant multi-faceted wine will mature to even greater heights of delight in a year or three, as 2015 was a brilliant vintage for many white wines.

James and Stuart Downes cultivate sauvignon blanc, semillon, merlot and pinot noir in their cool climate riverside vineyards, with meticulous attention and impeccable results. Long-term friends Gordon and Nadia Newton Johnson make the wine in their Upper-Hemel-en-Aarde valley cellar, adding just 8% of Shannon oaked semillon to enrich the fresh and lively sauvignon. No searing acidity, just a delicious mix of stone fruit and herbaceous notes, more than a hint of fynbos, all backed by Elgin flintiness and adding up to well-balanced pleasure, also well-priced at R105.

Looking at the advance publicity for the Elgin Cool Wine and Country Food fest taking place over the weekend April 30 – May 1, I notice that Shannon Wines are taking part. An excellent opportunity to sample this patrician white, along with their equally distinctive Mount Bullet merlot, as their cellar is only open to the public by appointment.

As always, the regions' wine farms will offer unique programmes, and details should be online from April 1. Tickets cost R120 through Plan ahead for a weekend of bottled poetry in striking surrounds.

Last word: Disregard opening paragraph above – I could sip Shannon’s sauvignon in every season.


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