A friend and I were going out for dinner to the Ocean Basket. What would go well with a nice grilled sole? So I pulled out a bottle of Hermanuspietersfontein Sauvignon Blanc No 3 2006 from my extensive cellar. Too old for a SA Sauv Blanc? Not at all. Many people have the preconception that SA Sauvignon Blanc is for early drinking. But if the grapes are sourced from cooler regions then they can age 10 years plus.
The wine was magnificent. In perfect condition it was fairly deep gold in colour with good body, quite fat on the palate but still elegant with little acidity evident but not lacking in structure. The nose was perfumed and redolent of fragrant aromas that I can’t quite describe. Slightly ineffable. Consumers of SA Sauv Blanc, always drink quality Sauvignon Blanc too young. Let it develop in the bottle and you will enjoy the benefits of further bottle maturation.
The winery is situated near Hermanus with the grapes being sourced from the ward Sunday’s Glen near Stanford with a first bottling in 2005. The chief winemaker has been Bartho Eksteen but I believe he may be leaving soon to explore other ventures. The labels are all in Afrikaans but as he stated in a tasting I attended back in 2011 what is wrong with using Afrikaans labels when firstly, the wines come from South Africa and secondly the French use French labels on their wines and few complain!
The name Hermanuspietersfontein is derived from a Dutch teacher who taught Afrikaans named Hermanus in 1855 and a fountain in the area.
A tasting lead by Bartho Eksteen, an ebullient and charismatic figure full of the joys of life like many winemakers was held at Caroline’s Fine Wine Cellar in 2011 but it is still relevant.
We kicked off with the no 7 Sauvignon Blanc 2010. Medium straw. Lovely grapefruit, citrus on the nose. Palate smooth- nice acid balance. More herbaceous.
The no 3 Sauvignon Blanc 2010. From a single vineyard. Pale straw to medium. Lovely perfume on the nose. Grapefruit, floral. Palate rich, smooth and accessible.
No 5 Sauvignon Blanc (Wooded). Pale gold. Nose citrus but not obvious. Palate less acid. Soft and round.
No 5 Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Wooded). Pale gold. Nose sweet melon. Palate lovely sweet and round. Perfect acid, fruit balance.
Die Bartho 2009. 5 star John Platter. Novelle addition. Flagship white. Medium straw. Golden flecks. Nose very scented. Crushed grape pips. Palate soft and round.
Now onto the flight of reds. The Swartskaap 2008. 100% Cabernet Franc. Pale to medium Garnet. Nose lovely ineffable- perfumed. Black currents? Palate good follow on. Intense. Beautiful wine.
Kleinboot 2007. Bordeaux Blend. 100% new wood. Deep ruby. Nose brooding. Lovely oak influence. Palate very creamy.
Die Arnoldus 2007. Very dark ruby. Almost ink black. Nose almost port like. Palate heavy- port like. Quite tight. Bordeaux and Rhone varieties.
Bartho Eksteen raised the question. Why is SA Sauvignon Blanc so successful? His answer was the correct terrior. Balance, balance, balance is his mantra. The interesting thing is that his Sauv Blancs drink well young. They are soft on the palate with no obvious astringent acidity. And yet as the 2006 no 3 showed they age very well.