SA Sauvignon: a deeply superficial wine

Neil Pendock December 16, 2013 0

Nature called at De Morgenzon on Saturday afternoon in between the DMZ Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. So while relieving myself in the Marcel Duchamp musical urinal (the gents bathroom is wallpapered with musical scores) that famous quote attributed to wine connoisseur T.P. Whelehan at a tasting in Trinity College, Dublin, came to mind.

“I was called out to a non-existent phone call. When I returned I lifted my glass, smelled and said ‘My God, this is foul,it smells like piss’. A voice from the back called out, ‘We know, but whose?’.”

Sauvignon Blanc is often compared to urine but in the case of the DMZ, it comes from Angels. So I do think Angela Lloyd was a bit harsh in her tasting note in the 2014 Platter guide “await next.” But then some do say that Waiting for Godot is the best Irish play. Not that Platter does as the tasting room walls are littered with five star certificates signed 1/1/2104. Why do “piss ups” and “breweries” also come to mind when the subject of Platter arises?

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Another Stellenbosch Sauvignon, The Infidel (above), was unlucky not to get the full five stars from Platter (it got 4.5 which in my day meant it had been proposed – in this case presumably by chairman of the FNB Sauvigon Top Ten, no less – but failed at the last jump), commercial relations between judge and brand owner, aside. Viva blind tastings, Viva!

For from the label above, you can see it has substantial Monty Pythonesque visual appeal. Although the dada button on the jacket of the brand owner, who was then secretary to the SBIG which appointed the FNB Top Ten panel, essentially trying to flag style benchmarks for the cultivar, is wrong. For this is far from a nonsense wine. Rather, it is a kitsch one, made by one of the best Sauvignonistas in the business – Riaan Oosthuisen – who together with cellar dog Basjan, helped put Durbanville Hills on the map. Is this SA’s first “Sauvignon Blanc” – a deeply superficial wine best drunk sighted?

For who else but someone deeply steeped in irony would try and make an artsy Sauvignon from Stellenbosch grapes? Sauvignon Blanc reaches its artistic extremes at Elgin, Darling, Elim, Outeniqua and the estuary of the Olifants River. Just ask KLM who have given the contract for European domestic in-flight whites for 2014 to a French winemaker who buys his Sauvignon Blanc (and other whites) from Namaqua Wines. Little wonder French imports have gone from Sahara Desert to 33 million litres a year.

CIG: Cinsault Interest Group

CIG: Cinsaut Interest Group

No, the appropriate Hylton Appelbaum muscial score for The Infidel is an empty sheet of paper entitled Funeral March for the Deaf performed by the signer from Madiba’s Memorial last week. Rather than Dada, this wine belongs to the school of The Incoherents which included Alphonse Allais who composed the original Funeral March of the Deaf plus the white rectangle Chloritic Girls at their First Communion in a Snowstorm. The second documented monochrome painting after Paul Bilhaud and his memorable black square Negroes Fighting in a Cellar at Night. A perfect label for a Cinsault from this brand as soon as a Cinsault Interest Group – CIG – sponsored by Peter Stuyvesant – can be assembled.

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