The Cape’s Chenin Blanc bandwagon continues to gather pace as Jancis Robinson chooses two SA Chenins – the Origin Swartland Chenin 2011 and the Jordan, Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2011 – in the 14 whites she lists today as part of her Financial Times 25 summer bargains. These are the only SA wines chosen under a £10 cut-off price ceiling.
Yet more reason for consumers and producers to embrace the Spier Pizza and Chenin Challenge we’ll be nailing down next week. And something for the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group to ponder as their FNB Sauvignon Challenge rolls around.
Jancis’s Sauvignon stunners were from Chile and France and if it wasn’t for the £10 ceiling, New Zealand would have undoubtedly been there, too. This was the lesson of the Concours du Sauvignon Competition earlier this year: SA Sauvignon is in danger of becoming a legend in its own lunchtime with overly acidic green wines turning off consumers and international judges alike, in droves. The challenge for SBIG is how to rejuvenate a style that looks like its seriously running out of steam and something for the FNB judges to take on board when they taste the new crop of Sauvvies in early August. If they can leave their parochial cellar palates at home.
Just to get a few facts and stats on the table, as your statement that “… overly acidic green wines turning off consumers and international judges alike, in droves” may create a wrong impression.
The latest export stats from SAWIS (May 2012) confirms that Sauvignon Blanc exports in packaged format is slightly up for the period June 2011 to May 2012 when compared to the same period for the year before (June 2010 to May 2011), and bulk exports are up by a staggering 84%.
Using the same SAWIS stats (available from their website), Chenin Blanc is down by about 9% in packaged format, and in bulk is up by 9%.
For the period, total volume exports in packaged format of Sauvignon Blanc for the first time actually exceeded that of Chenin Blanc, but admittedly Chenin Blanc still represents three times the bulk exports of Sauvignon Blanc.
Surely the above stats do not confirm that there has suddenly been a shift of stellar proportions, as you would want to imply, away from South African Sauvignon Blanc towards any other white grape variety? Quite to the contrary, it seems that international consumers are really showing a fondness for the quality and styles of Sauvignon Blanc that South Africa has to offer.
I would really appreciate it if you would furnish me with a list of the Sauvignon Blanc wines you regard as “overly acidic green wines” so that we can put this up as a discussion point at the next SBIG technical seminar.
There is no question in my mind that South Africa is at the cutting edge of Sauvignon Blanc production, and having had a lot of exposure pouring wines at international shows, I also know that this feeling is shared by many international commentators (if you need further proof of this, please feel free to make contact with international journalists and wine judges like Mario Scheuermann in Germany, or Steve Thurlow in Canada.)
That said, our Sauvignon Blanc producers are not resting on their laurels, and are continuously innovating and striving to stay abreast of international trends in the making of top-quality wines. Any constructive inputs you may have gleaned from the Concours Mondial du Sauvignon would therefore be most appreciated.
Pieter de Waal
Secretary: Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group of South Africa (SBIG)