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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES #193 (article first published : 2008-03-31)

Sauvignon blanc, the dry white wine which has its origins in France, has grown steadily in quality and popularity in South Africa over the past 25 years and now accounts for nearly 10 percent of the country’s vineyards.

When the grape was first planted in significant quantities at the Cape, in the nineteen-eighties, it produced wines that tended to be rather sharp and thin. Sauvignon blanc has come a long way since then and today the grape offers wines with a wide range of flavours and styles.

A new release from the beautiful Plaisir de Merle farm at Simondium is an outstanding example of a Cape sauvignon. This is Plaisir de Merle Sauvignon Blanc 2007, and the winemaker, Niel Bester, describes it as a cracker. He says: “It goes well with light dishes such a seafood salad, pasta or grilled fish, but it is a cracker just by itself”.

The grapes for this wine came from various vineyards at Plaisir de Merle and from one vineyard in the cooler district of Koekenaap on the Cape west coast, seven kilometres from the cold Atlantic Ocean. The result is a combination of crisp, “cooler” flavours with a fruity character stemming from the older vines at Plaisir de Merle.

The wine is a bright colour with green tinges. It has a bouquet of tropical fruit, winter melon and a hint of spice. And it has the crisp taste of gooseberry and fig which is typical of sauvignon blanc.

The wine is full-bodied, 13,85 percent alcohol, and has a long aftertaste. After fermentation in stainless steel tanks it was left on the lees (the wine sediment) for four months and had no contact with wood. The price of this distinguished white wine is about R65 a bottle.

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The big international liquor firm Pernod Ricard has launched in South Africa a vodka from Poland named Wyborowa Exquisite.

Poland is said to be the birthplace of vodka, which has been produced there since the 14th century. The Poles assert there is no “v” in what they spell as wodka. This Wyborowa, pronounced vee-bor-o-va was first made in 1823. Wyborowa means “exquisite” in Polish, hence the tag on the name for the benefit of English speakers.

David de Mardt, managing director of Pernod Ricard South Africa, describes this vodka, or wodka, as “super-premium”. Apparently it has flavours of fresh rye bread, Brazil nuts and a savoury creaminess, with a nutty finish. – Michael Green




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