Elgin pioneering wine estate Paul Clüver Family Wines underscored its versatility by being awarded a FNB Top 10 Sauvignon Blanc SA award, being one of ten wines selected as the best from 161 entries into this year’s running of the only wine competition committed exclusively to South Africa Sauvignon Blanc. The Paul Clüver Sauvignon Blanc 2022 joined nine other Sauvignon Blancs from around the winelands in this year’s Top 10 line-up of the best of these wines the country has to offer.
Especially known for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for which it has garnered local as well as international critical acclaim, Paul Clüver is also a leader in cool-climate Sauvignon Blanc from the Elgin region and has been farming with this variety on the farm’s hardy Bokkeveld Shale soils since 1990.
Andries Burger, cellarmaster at Paul Clüver Family Wines, says Sauvignon Blanc has found a particularly suitable home in Elgin, the coolest wine-growing region in South Africa.
“This variety is known for requiring a cool growing season to best express its abundance of aromatic aromas and flavours,” says Burger. “It is no surprise thus, that it was one of the cultivars selected for planting here over three decades ago. The plants love the sharp difference in diurnal temperatures together with the cool southerly breezes during the growing season in spring to early autumn. And our soils of tough Bokkeveld Shale with a water-retaining clay-underbed allow for excellent drainage, as well as being conveyors of nutrients to the plant.”
Burger says the key to Paul Clüver Sauvignon Blanc is gentle handling of the grapes and a delicate pressing. “Sauvignon Blanc is a fragile grape with a complex spectrum of flavours and aromas,” he says. “In the cellar we try our best not to disturb this sensory harmony as this can lead to bluntness and unbalance in the wine, taking away the clarity of expression the grape is known for.”
For an added dimension, a 10% Sémillon component is added to the Sauvignon Blanc for depth of body and to flesh out the wine on the mid-palate. Half of this Sémillon element is fermented and aged in 2 500l wood foudré.
“The beauty of making Sauvignon Blanc is that the process is short and relatively simple, as it is aimed at capturing the essence of terroir,” says Burger. “After fermenting, the wine spends three-and-a-half months at a controlled temperature on its lees, which adds texture and mouthfeel. Besides the small Sémillon component, no wood is used, ensuring total clarity in the wine with the freshness and zest that has made Sauvignon Blanc South Africa’s leading white wine variety among the consumer.
”Besides this pronounced Sauvignon Blanc feature, Paul Clüver’s version of this variety offers notes of passion-fruit and gooseberry, with a discernible mineral presence in the long, cool finish.”