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S. AFRICAN WHITE STANDS UP TO COSTLY COUNTERPARTS

29 Jan KWV Holdings

If you drink white wine — and many people drink nothing but — you probably drink your fair share of Sauvignon Blanc. Most likely you drink either the New Zealand version, or the Canadian/U.S. version.

For those who prefer the Kiwi style — less sweet, very crisp with aromas of citrus, melon and a hint of stone — you should probably explore the Sauvignon Blanc of other countries as well. I am quite partial to the versions from South Africa and Chile.

There’s a relatively new South African version on the shelves here, Cathedral Cellar. This is a high-end version from KWV wines, a mass market vintner and distiller. I watch for wines like this because typically the winemakers in large concerns have both the technology and training to make great wine. When a label like KWV decides to market a better wine it will be both better and likely a good deal because the downmarket reputation of the maker weighs against the purchase.

And indeed I would pit Cathedral Cellar Sauvignon Blanc against any number of wines costing 30 to 50 per cent more. The bouquet is a touch floral with that distinctive citrus aroma of Sauvignon Blanc. There is also just a touch of mineral behind it, something I seek out.

The palate is very crisp on the attack with a lovely hit of acidity but there is some roundness around the back third of the tongue, a sort of sophistication that is lacking from brasher wines. Sairey suspected it was cut with some viognier. The 2012 year was much crisper and I think dropping a few grams of acidity has allowed the sophistication of the wine to show through.

Source: James Romanow, Saskatoon StarPhoenix