Day: Sauvignon Blanc ‘becoming like plastic surgery’

Sauvignon Blanc is “becoming like plastic surgery”, as producers seek to make identical intensely aromatic styles, according to Matt Day of Klein Constantia.

Speaking to the drinks business during a tasting of Klein Constantia’s Sauvignon Blancs pitted against examples from the Loire in London last week, Day said:

“What’s happening with Sauvignon Blanc at the moment is a bit like plastic surgery and to me it’s cheating.

“Everyone is chasing the same style of super pyrazine heavy Sauvignon with intense green aromas and are working with the same yeast so they all end up looking and tasting the same, which is boring.

“A lot of producers are taking the piss and are destroying Sauvignon Blanc’s image because they’ve lost their way.

“Too many South African producers are chasing the New Zealand style of super pungent Sauvignon Blanc and are trying to tell the wrong story.

“If we’re not careful Sauvignon Blanc will go down the same route as Chardonnay and no one will want to drink it.

“South Africa is the mid point between New Zealand and France when it comes to Sauvignon and can strike the right balance between aromatics and complexity.

“New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is getting boring and I think there is a gap in the market for South Africa to come in with something different.”

Day, a big Sauvignon lover who makes 10 different styles at Klein Constantia, is keen to raise Sauvignon Blanc’s image around the world.

“We’ve put a huge amount of focus on making this most noble of cultivars special again. Most producers are making it for quick consumption but Sauvignon can make some of the best wines in the world – we often overlook that.

“I want to show that Sauvignon is not just a tutti fruity wine with high acidity that smells like roses – it’s a variety that has a lot of depth but it takes effort to bring that out,” he told db.

“South Africa is a very warm region but there are a few cooler pockets that have the X factor for Sauvignon Blanc. We have the cooling influence of the ocean on both sides of our vineyard and the bunches never bake as it’s south-east facing.

“Our Sauvignon is grown on 500 million-year-old decomposed granite soils, which brings out a salinity and an umami character in the wines. We make 10 different Sauvignon Blancs, which is very unusual.

“I’m trying to plough my own path by using wild ferments and adding next to no sulphur at crush. We get tiny crops but we’re getting there,” he added.

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