JUST THE FACTS
Price: R170 (as of Mar 2017)
Winery: Marianne Wine Estate
Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc
Wine Region: Stellenbosch
Country: South Africa
Ponce Factor: Moderate
Occasion: At a snoek braai, with a lumberjack.
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If wines were superheroes, this fumé blanc-style SB would be the R-rated Deadpool. A playful rendition from a traditionally serious genre, with loads of citric wit, some heavy-hitting wood (50% new oak) & more than its share of spice.
TN: Sweet vanilla & open pineapple fruit on vanguard
Mouthfeel has a marvelously leasy creamy feel to it, with peach fruit and a lingering yellow citrus zest.
Oak spice remerges on the tail, providing the much required happy ending.
Alternative facts and the truth about oak
If you’ve ever met a wine traditionalist, you’ll no doubt hear how they have nothing but disdain for Quercus Alba and will only tolerate wines wooded in French Oak barrels from one of the five magic forests. In these forests, before any tree is felled, it must be blessed by a virgin Mancoun Elf, and then bathed by the light of a full moon in the milk of a mewling Tauernsheck.
That’s actually not true. Sometimes they use Alpaca milk. But only if it’s certified organic.
Whenever having to endure a wine douche monologuing about the magical properties of the five forests of Aillers, Limousin, Nevers, Tronçais, and Vosges, it is a lovely opportunity to share ever so gently that (for the most part) French winemakers have historically preferred Hungarian Oak – from the mountain forest of Zemplen – over their own local supply.
In fact, a short study of history will show that European winemakers have never insisted on “only French oak” but used Russian oak when necessary, Slavonian oak, Acacia barrels, cherry wood barrrels (for Italian Valpolicella), chestnut barrels (for Port), and recently Canadian winemakers have cottoned on to the fact that local is lekker in their neck of the woods, too (See what I did there?).
The word on the grapevine is that the sensory payload of Canadian Oak is somewhere between the tightly-grained more subtle influence of French Oak, and the more obvious vanillin-laden effects of American White Oak.
I’m sure your dinner guests will be absolutely enthralled.
“In these magical forests, before any tree is felled,
it must be blessed by a
virgin Mancoun Elf, and then
bathed by the light of the
full moon in the milk of a mewling Tauernsheck.”Uppity Wine Douche
Is oak trespassing?
But all of this barrel banter is a wee bit irrelevant. As in recent times, “oak purists” are hard to come by. This is because there is an emerging wave of wine bad-asses (or bad wine-asses) who would go so far as to say that you can’t be a true wine lover and tolerate oak at all – no matter where it’s from! After all, oak is an additive, polluting the pristine fruit of the vine.
About the Author
Jono Le Feuvre is not a bean counter. He is a bean roaster. Bean roasters carry far more street cred & get to speak at bizarre niche gatherings of enquiring-but-unhinged-minds. They also usually have addictive tendencies. When he is not roasting beans he is pulling corks. Or deftly removing screwcap enclosures. But you can read more about him here.