2013 was the year the SA Sauvignon Blanc bubble exploded in a golden shower of cat’s pee striking a gooseberry bush. The annual FNB Top Ten Competition collapsed into controversy when it emerged that the panel chair and the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group secretary had a cosy relationship that some commentators called inappropriate. Platter five star nominations, foreign trips and a lack of agreement with other competition such as Veritas, clouded the juice. In a year when Platter sighted soothsayers went mad and dished out 80 five star stunnas, Sauvignon could only manage five – less that half the haul for Chenin. The cherry on the top was an insinuation from the Wine Lizard in Business Day that some producers likely add illegal additives (in this case water) to their product. But at the end of the day, a glass of the stuff like the Ondine 2012 (below, last night at Societi Bistro) shows what all the fuss is about.
For the cultivar has the potential to become the Great White of SA if focus can be achieved and some of the dodgy numbers seeking to hijack the varietal for their own commercial purposes can be shuffled off the stage and back into the sewers. The 2012 Ondine from Darling producer Ormonde follows up a hard act – the 2011 – but is unlikely to ever reach the four dimensional heights scaled by the 11. That said and price considered, it is a most acceptable drop and equally at home with spicy watermelon gazpacho or chicken liver parfait.
While FDR called America “the great arsenal of democracy” Alexanderfontein in Darling is the great arsenal of quality grapes for the Western Cape. If you look at the incredible achievements and profits of the Swartland Independents with wines made in the Swartland, Riebeek and Perdeberg Co-ops, imagine what could be achieved if a bit of sex and style is applied to Darling grapes made into wine at Darling Cellars.
Their Chocoholic 2013 is already an order of magnitude better value than that Franschhoek favourite, Chocolate Block, and they have terrific Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc wat skrik vir niks. Where are the Indian investors or will it be the Chinese who seize the day and elevate Darling to its proper place on the Christmas tree of SA wine. Right at the top with the fairies.