More on blackcurrant and petrol notes in sauvignon

I’m getting dangerously close to losing the last shreds of my prejudice against sauvignon blanc, as I effectively admitted  in a blog last month, when I was talking about finding a petrol/kerosene note on a few sauvignon blancs. As I said then, it was “an aroma and flavour somehow continuous with the note of blackcurrant that is my favourite sauvignon character, and that I first encountered in the excellent Quoin Rock Nicobar 2007”.

Well, I had the great privilege a few days back of tasting that great Nicobar 2007 (made by Carl van der Merwe, now doing great stuff at DeMorgenzon) – thanks to vinophile Ginette de Fleuriot. She’d been sensible and imaginative enough to keep a bottle of it longer than I had and was kind enough to share it with me. My last bottle was opened getting on for two years back, and I reported on it enthusiastically here.


Pic stolen from Jamie Goode’s website, where he said in 2011 that this “counts among the very best South African whites that I’ve yet tried”.

Well, if anything the wine is even better now: an excellent example to adduce in my continuing argument with Christian Eedes about allowing wine to mature. This was a delightful wine in its fruity youth, but now it is altogether a profound, beautiful and fascinating one. I’m not sure it has much further to go, but I’d love to find out what another year or two would do to it, though I doubt if there are many bottles left, and doubt even more that one will come my way.

Most fascinating to me was to be shocked to instantly recognise the note of petrol, which I’d never been aware of in previous bottles. Nicolbar 2007 was, as I said, the first sauvignon on which I’d been really confronted with a blackcurrant character – not pure fruitiness, but with a little leafiness mixed in. No longer was that fruitiness so pure, or so comparatively simple.

What had happened (for me) in this wine was that the blackcurrant leaf had acquired a greater complexity, developing the added insinuations of petrol. I feel even more justified than ever in thinking that the blackcurrant and petrol notes are continuous – even if it took seven years or so for the latter to become obvious on the mature Nicobar, while it was obvious at a very young age on that other Agulhas wine I spoke about, from Giant Periwinkle.

Now, what is THAT wine going to be like in seven years? Who knows? – we’re still learning about the best Cape sauvignons and how they develop and how they express their origins.  And what an exciting ride of discovery it’s being.


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