Why should you care? Following France’s Loire Valley, New Zealand is the world’s richest of pungent, unoaked sauvignon blancs. But I must confess that I have a weakness for South Africa’s generally drier and less tropical versions. South Africa can’t match New Zealand in the number of good sauvignon choices or sheer volume of wine, but the very best Cape versions strike me as more concentrated and longer on personality. Barely a half-step down from this exalted level, South Africa’s next-best sauvignons can offer extraordinary value.
What does it taste like? Under the steady hand of Gyles Webb, Thelema Mountain Vineyards has long been one of South Africa’s standout producers, with a strong track record for both red and white wines. Their Sutherland range of wines comes from vines in the cooler, maritime Elgin region, just a few miles from the Indian Ocean. The lucid pale-yellow 2012 sauvignon blanc, made entirely in stainless steel, offers vibrant, cool aromas and flavors of gooseberry, grapefruit pith, lime ice, licorice and caraway seed. In the mouth, it’s almost shockingly rich and punchy yet weightless, with impressive purity and energy to its intense citrus fruit flavors. The long, tactile finish dusts the palate with spices.
How much does it cost, and where can you find it? $15; Cape Classics.