‘We firmly believe that South Africa is one of the world’s most exciting wine-producing countries at the moment,’ says Jancis Robinson. But which category is leading the revolution? ‘South Africa’s…

‘We firmly believe that South Africa is one of the world’s most exciting wine-producing countries at the moment,’ says Jancis Robinson. But which category is leading the revolution?

‘South Africa’s whites are on a roll….the white Rhône blends are constantly delivering something more esoteric, yet well-crafted and packed full of flavor, especially from Swartland,‘ affirms Neal Martin.

‘Critics are abuzz at what looks set to be “the next big thing” from South Africa: premium white blends to rival the best from Bordeaux, the Rhone and beyond,’ says Decanter.

One of the more established winemakers leading the way is David Trafford, whose Sijnn project in Malgas is producing one of the country’s finest white blends. Fresh and textured with a long, layered finish, the 2013 White is simply delicious and a step up on the 2012 vintage, which received a massive 93 points from Wine Spectator.

Playing a major part in this new-wave movement are some ex-Young Gunners. Within just a few years, John Seccombe and David Sadie have joined and strengthened the charge of great white blends. Aristargos was a 5-star Platter wine last year, and though 2014 is only the second vintage of Thorne and Daughters, it looks set to join the top ranks. But be careful: just as Cartology, Palladius, Kokerboom and ‘T Voetpad have become near impossible to buy, expect these whites to become just as rare.

See what else these trailblazers are producing, including the David Sadie Grenache, Sijnn Off-Centre and Thorne and Daughters Zoetrope.

New-wave great whites

New-wave great whites

CE: Christian Eedes, Winemag.co.za
WS: Wine Spectator

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Tasting notes

Thorne and Daughters Rocking Horse 2014

A first peek at the 2014 vintage of the Cape white blend that is Thorne & Daughters Rocking Horse. A blend of 35% Chenin Blanc (Bottelary and Swartland), 28% Roussanne (Voor Paardeberg), 22% Semillon (Franschhoek), 14% Chardonnay and 1% Viognier (both Overberg), it was matured in old oak for some 10 months. The nose is extraordinarily complex – lime, peach, red apple, dried herbs, some pleasant oxidative character and even liquorice! Fantastic fruit concentration – really succulent – and lip-smacking acidity before a wonderfully long finish – dry, pithy, even bitter (it takes courage to leave that kind of detail in rather than polish out). Rendered with care and imagination and I believe a small step up on the 2013, which itself was a knock-out wine. – Christian Eedes, Winemag.co.za, 95/100

David Sadie Aristargos 2014

35% Chenin Blanc, 25% Roussanne, 20% Clairette Blanche, 15% Viognier and 5% Semillon (the latter for the first time). Lime, pear, peach as well as what can only be described as a certain grapey-ness. Also spice and fynbos. Excellent fruit purity, excellent range of flavour. Zippy acidity which gives the wine a lip-smacking quality. Good length on the finish. More accomplished than ever. – Christian Eedes, Winemag.co.za, 94/100

Sijnn White 2013

A blend of Chenin Blanc, Viognier and Roussanne.
With each new vintage the wines are showing a real sense of place. An attractive straw / yellow colour. A lovely mineral, pithy stone fruit nose with a hint of honey & nutty complexity. Fresh, full textured palate with a little less richness than 2012, but with more mineral depth. Just starting to show itself and should develop beautifully over the next year or so. Best 2015 to 2020. – Sijnn.co.za

We really love this vintage; there is more refinement than in previous vintages but also superb drinking pleasure. The Chenin and Viognier are wonderfully restrained, offering floral notes, great stone-fruit purity, hints of spice and an ever-evolving complexity. The palate follows with good grip and a cleansing, dry end. Drinking well now but enjoy for another 3-5 years.

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