Wooded Sauvignon Blancs
are a little like Radiohead Albums
“Easy-drinking” is not a compliment
Wooded Sauvignon Blancs are a little like Radiohead albums; there is nothing easy about them. They challenge your senses (and preconceptions) & leave you asking, “Is that oak? Or Unicorn sweat?” You feel lost, and bewildered, like Pamela Anderson in her classic oeuvre; Barbed Wire. But once you’ve white-knuckled it right to final dissonant harmony, and experienced the sensorial symphony for yourself, there is no doubt that you’re way cooler than when you began.
Sure, the Clicks Club mag may be telling you where to find your favourite Swartland Chenin, & your mother-in-law may be continually adding “pinotage rosé” to the joint-group whatsapp grocery list, but wooded Sauvignon Blancs are a category that has been on the rise for the past few years, with local examples earning insane accolades around the world.
But what to expect?
In my bid to take over the world by sporting wood in all my Savvy Bees, I have been serving loads of them during blind tastings. When pressed to guess what’s in the glass, wine casual wine lovers have confidently put forward “chardonnay” as their final answer every. single. time.
Now self-titled ‘wine connoisseurs’ with very short memories (of their own early wine journey) will no doubt snort at the comparison, but stick with me.
A big wooded chardonnay will often display caramels, vanilla, spice and butterscotch (or subtle variations on those) pitched against the primary elements of lime marmalade, lemon bonbons (in cooler climates examples) and ripe citrus elements.
In a wooded sauvignon blanc, these same citrus elements come out to play, although the acidity is usually significantly more pronounced. What you don’t get with chardonnay are some pronounced herbal elements; elderflower, cut grass, capsicum / bell pepper elements, which can all combine in quite a heady fashion with notes like cinnamon, vanilla, and butterscotch from the oak. As I said early on, there is nothing easy drinking about these guys, but the combinations are truly fascinating when looking for something to bring reprieve from the boredom of another mediocre chard.
‘But what’s wrong with chard?’ you may exclaim. And I’d say, verily, nothing. BUT, if you love wooded whites, but are tired of the fashion police telling you that “butter chards are out”, this category is an absolute treasure trove of fashionably correct refreshment that may just launch you on a life-changing journey of discovery.
Sometimes we need a few unicorns to step away from the herd and put on a little show to remind us of what’s possible.
The trouble with all these tall horses, is that their mind-altering sensory adventures are usually accompanied by tear-inducing price tags…
But things have been changing over the past few vintages, and estates like Groote Post, HermanusPietersfontein and Mulderbosch have been releasing some delightful wooded Savvy Bees that may well shatter your prejudice against Sauvignon Blanc, without putting a crack in your credit rating. Here is a list of solid contenders all for under R200.00.
⭐️ The Hermanuspietersfontein Kat met die Houtbeen – ZAR165.00
⭐️ The Groote Post SeaSalter – ZAR145.00
⭐️ Benguela Cove Sauvignon Blanc (wooded) – ZAR170.00