First taste of South African Sauvignon: Spier 2005

spear south african wine sauvignon blanc stellanbosh stellenbosh stellanbosch stellenboesch stellanboesch
This is my first taste of South African Sauvignon. South Africa produces Chenin Blanc of some renown, and its Chardonnay is in no short supply. But it is the less widely-available Sauvignon grape variety that I was interested in trying this summer to see how it would compare to the other refreshing everyday wines I've been drinking lately.

A disclaimer first: The SAQ liquor agency in Quebec stocks very few white South African wines -- a couple of dozen at best with only five Sauvignons in its catalog. I bought this bottle at the LCBO in Ontario, an agency that clearly has a greater focus on developing wine regions like Stellenbosch. The LCBO distributes 80-odd different bottles of South African wine white, an impressive number though unfortunately this particular one is only available in the city of Markham at the moment.


Mineral aspects of this wine stand out the most, which is slightly surprising since I was expecting a fruit-flavoured onslaught. The whole thing amounts to a lovely profile that also features strong notes of fresh herb and citrus.

I am not a fan of typically big New World fruit but here the fruit, though tropical and exotic, is rendered in a pithy style comes through with a bitter finish and bracing pucker. Not exactly a fruit bomb.

This bottle might have been better in its absolute youth. The 2005 vintage in South Africa is actually going on three years in age since it is a southern hemisphere wine region and gets the jump on most other wine regions by six months. I felt that after a little while this bottle seemed to start to wither and its attack carried a syrupy impression.

For the amount I paid for it, it's a promising wine. I would definitely keeps my eye out for more of it as it is produced and leave the remaining 2005s alone. Click the bottle image at top for more information about its listing in the LCBO catalog.

Annandale Road, Stellenbosch, South Africa. 12.5%.


Joe said...

Sneakin' across the border again? I used to do more of that when the price differential was greater, but the new SAQ prices are pretty close (and many times better). My only S.A. S.B. experience was that Porcupine Ridge I told you about. Great value. Cheers!

Marcus said...

Joe, I'd like to respond in a syllogism...

I spend time in Ontario with friends and family.

I drink all the time.

Conclusion: I drink wine from Ontario.

Joe said...

My family is in K-W, got married in Kingston, and I go to Toronto on business all the time - I hear ya. Picking up my 2004 Bordeaux futures order next week. However, this stupid checked bag thing for wine on airplanes has seriously cut back on my cross border importation...