- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sincerely, Sauvignon Blanc, Western Cape, South Africa, 2008, $13

The vivacious, refreshing style of sauvignon blanc championed by New Zealand vintners over the past two decades has proved so popular internationally that winemakers all over the world are rushing to adopt it. Some of the most successful hail from South Africa, as the cool climate of the Cape region seems to be ideal for growing this particular grape variety.

Sauvignon blanc is not an especially difficult grape to cultivate. Yet, if it’s grown in too warm a climate, the resulting wine will lose its zesty bouquet and turn heavy on the palate. That’s what happens in much of California, where the vast majority of sauvignons taste uninspired at best. In South Africa, however, the wines retain high levels of natural acidity, as the confluence of Atlantic and Indian ocean currents at the Cape of Good Hope helps keep temperatures low. The resulting wines can taste vibrant.

Sauvignon blancs made in this fresh, spirited style are at their best when young, and this value-priced 2008 tastes delightful now. It combines bright grapefruit flavors with herbal undertones, and the sweet note in its finish proves enticing. Try it with shellfish dishes or dinner salads, or just enjoy it on its own.

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