I have long being a proponent of different geographies in South Africa producing different grapes of the same varietal and therefore different wines. It was therefore with interest that I read Michael Fridjhon’s column in the Business Day. Here is an excerpt.
“SA has been more circumspect when it comes to claims about the importance of terroir or origin. This has been partly because the big producer-wholesalers of yore were less than keen to have their hands tied by growers who might parley up the price of their fruit if they could lay claim to some site-imbued significance. The broad elements are there however and the value of geographical distinctions is being recognised and rewarded.
“The variety which has contributed most to revised perception of terroir is Sauvignon Blanc. More heat sensitive than most other cultivars, it was originally planted in wholly inappropriate locations. In the 1980s and 1990s vineyards in the warmer parts of Stellenbosch and Paarl generally yielded dull, characterless wines unless the fruit was harvested so early it was palpably green. The more serious-minded producers sought out the cooler locations, settling on Swartland/Darling, Constantia, Elgin, Durbanville, Walker Bay and Agulhas.
“It has become increasingly evident that climate alone does not provide sufficient explanation for these different expressions of Sauvignon. Darling and Durbanville, for example, are both influenced by the chilling effect of the cold Benguela current yet their wines are easily distinguished from each other. Elgin Sauvignon is not the same as Walker Bay’s, nor is the fruit from Lomond in Gansbaai like The Berrio’s in Agulhas.”