It not often you find a wine that makes you want to write a poem – or blog, for that matter. It’s the stuff of daydreams – a bit like meeting a perfect stranger in a bar. It doesn’t happen very often and when it does you can’t believe your luck. You even get to take home what you don’t finish (bar policy depending).
Recently in Pringle Bay, I encountered that perfect stranger. Here’s my ode to a very special Sauvignon Blanc.
My chequered past with the Bordeaux white grape
I’ve had a bit of a chequered past with Sauvignon Blanc, as I expanded on in a previous post on another site. I used to hate it. That hate turned into love-hate which has now blossomed into a beautiful love affair – one I am still very much in the throes of – and to think I very nearly didn’t cross paths with the 2014 Bamboes Bay.
It was one above a Gabriëlskloof number on the wine list, and I almost gave in to the Semillon-laced Sauvignon Blanc from Bot Rivier. Incidentally, the beautiful Durbanville-based Nitida also make a lip smacking SB-Sem blend, which is well worth a sip, but I was seduced by the prospect of a barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc with an exotic name.
Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t do well on oak – or so they say
Well, to say this Sauvignon Blanc was barrel fermented would be bending the truth a bit – 10% was barrel fermented. Not a common wine-making practice for the varietal, Nitida’s Wild Child blend excepting. Convention dictates that the varietal doesn’t fare well on oak. Luckily for our palates, there are some maverick wine makers out there.
The West Coast isn’t usually the birthplace of brilliant wines
Bamboes Bay is not your garden variety Sauvignon Blanc. If you were blindfolded and given a glass to taste, I’m willing to wager that the first words to come out of your mouth wouldn’t be “Savignon Blank”. No, this is a rare breed of Sauvignon Blanc, hailing from far up the wild Weskus – a far cry from the varietal’s spiritual homeland of Durbanville and Constantia. Made by Vrendenal’s Fryer’s Cove winery, this wine had me ooh-ing and ah-ing with every sip.
Creamy, peachy, limey and peppery all at once
The small percentage of the wine that spent time on oak has given Bamboes Bay a light creaminess (think avocado-creamy, not double cream-creamy), not too dissimilar from the effect you might get from lees contact. Even its flavor profile is a welcome change from comfort zone Sauvignon Blancs. Unfortunately I was swept away by the wine too much to save a copy of my internal tasting notes to my memory, so I’ll borrow the tasting notes from Christian Eedes’ blog: “Lime and white peach to go with top notes of nettles and white pepper….and a gently savoury finish. Understated and sophisticated.” Pretty on point.
If you aren’t up for the trip of the West Coast to visit the winery, or can’t spare the time to meander down Clarence Drive to 365 Bistro in Pringle Bay, or head to Caroline’s Fine Wines in Strand Street to get yourself some perfect stranger.
Photography courtesy Caroline Knight