Top image: Stephan Claassen (FNB) Nataleé Botha (Kleine Zalze) RJ Botha (Kleine Zalze) Lizemari Geldenhuys (Kleine Zalze)
The quest for pure vineyard expression in Kleine Zalze’s Vineyard Selection wine-range and a commitment to ensuring South Africa’s status as a world-leader in Sauvignon Blanc drove the Kleine Zalze team in the making of Klein Zalze Vineyard Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2022, which took a coveted top 10 Spot in the annual FNB Sauvignon Blanc SA Top 10. This leading competition for Cape Sauvignon Blanc attracted 161 entries this year from wineries committed to South Africa’s leading single-cultivar white wine grape.
RJ Botha, Kleine Zalze cellarmaster, says that when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc, his approach is pure and simple. “That is to find the right vineyards from which to structure a Sauvignon Blanc vividly offering a spectacular array of Sauvignon flavour-profiles and then to ensure you do justice to this fruit palette by keeping things simple and direct in the cellar,” he says.
Here a cold fermentation at 13°C followed by a further seven months in stainless steel tank on the lees is essential for grasping and maintaining the Sauvignon Blanc characteristics presented by the vineyards.
“We source our fruit from dryland vines on the edge of False Bay in the Stellenbosch region, Durbanville and Darling,” says Botha. “All three are tremendous sites for Sauvignon Blanc, each bringing a different element to the final wine. Stellenbosch gives a firm acidic backbone and calm white fruit. Durbanville has a gooseberry-tropical component. And from Darling, there is a fresh, green edge of which you don’t want too much, but combined with the other nuances it becomes vital in the completeness of the wine.
At the cellar everything is done reductively to minimise exposure to oxygen, including copious use of dry-ice, and only free-run juice was used to avoid any impurities that can evolve from mashing and pressing.
“When it comes to Sauvignon Blanc, the consumer wants a wine that is pure as driven snow – or driven dry-ice, as this may have been the case,” says Botha. “Time is therefore of the essence when making the Vineyard Selection Sauvignon Blanc, and in this way we can do justice to what the different vineyards offer us.
Botha says the FNB Top 10 spot is the pinnacle for every Sauvignon Blanc aficionado, especially as the number of South African Sauvignon Blanc producers grow and the wines on offer get better and better.
“This, the only local competition committed to Sauvignon Blanc, remains the leading sounding-board for a maker of this category and Kleine Zalze is extremely proud to have made the Top 10 again this year,” he says. “This award follows less than a week after Kleine Zalze was named Best Achiever at this Year’s Veritas Awards, so for us it has been a festive few days honouring the team’s hard work, eyes for detail and the commitment to ensuring each Kleine Zalze offering is one of the quality we all aspire towards.”