There really is a day for everything. I guess most people are participating in Star Wars Day (May the 4th be with you!), but not for this foodie! Oh no. Wine over wars. Today, 4 May, is one of my most favourite days of the whole year (and bonus points for it falling on a Friday!) – it’s International Sauvignon Blanc Day! And this year, what better way than to spend it in the exquisite company of Neil Ellis Wines…
Sauvignon Blanc dates to 18th century France where it first gained recognition in the Loire Valley and in the Bordeaux wine vineyards. It has a wide range of styles and flavours and is thus widely cultivated today in France, Chile, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and of course, right here in South Africa.
I am a big fan of Sauvignon Blanc. I particularly enjoy the energetic acidity, sweet fruit, delicate floral notes and green, often herbaceous, character of this grape varietal. It pairs attractively with most foods and is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser if you’re uncertain which wine to purchase for a group of friends.
Setting the scene
As always with a press drop, I was overly excited and giddy with joy when a wine box arrived from Neil Ellis Wines to my office, just in time for International Sauvignon Blanc Day. I unwrapped two highly acclaimed, stunning bottles of Sauvignon Blanc:
- Neil Ellis Groenekloof Sauvignon Blanc from their Regional Range
- Neil Ellis Amica, 100% barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc from their Limited Release Terrain Specific Range.
The focus of Neil Ellis Wines has always been (and will continue to be!) on sourcing superior grape-varieties from low-yielding, hand-picked vineyard lots in the Cape’s best sites. They have vineyards spread from the fynbos-rich Jonkershoek Valley to the cooler Elgin area, the hills of Groenekloof near Darling where the ocean breeze gently encourages the ripening process of the grapes, to the mountain vineyards of Piekenierskloof. The careful selection of their vineyard locations reflects in their vision to make distinctive, refined wines that are expressive of their terroir and ultimately, rank amongst South Africa’s finest.
Neil Ellis Groenekloof Sauvignon Blanc
Neil Ellis put the Darling district and the Groenekloof ward on the wine map when he started using grapes from Darling in 1986 and subsequently became the first person to release a wine from this area with his highly-acclaimed Groenekloof Sauvignon Blanc in 1991, spearheading the wine industry’s interest in the cool-climate possibilities of the area.
In the vineyard: These 20-year-old bush vines are low-yielding vineyards with no supplementary irrigation.
In the cellar: The wine was left on the lees for months to enhance the structure, mouthfeel and complexity of the wine.
Tasting notes: Bright aromatics with lifted floral notes and subtle herbaceous overtones. The palate is elegant, and textured with delicately detailed sweet tropical fruits, a lively acidity, refined minerality and a long flavoursome finish.
Retail price: R95-R110
Neil Ellis Amica 2017
The 2017 Amica is a complex and textured expression of Sauvignon Blanc.
In the vineyard: The source of the fruit is a single vineyard site from the Jonkershoek Valley. This limited release wine demonstrates the distinctiveness of specific vineyard sites and represents the finest quality.
In the cellar: The grapes were whole-bunch pressed using a Champagne pressing cycle to ensure that only the finest quality juice was used. The fermentation occurred naturally in 500-litre puncheons of which only 20% was new. The wine spent 9 months in barrel. (500-litre).
Tasting notes: Initial scents of white florals and fresh herbs are supported by notes of sweet stone fruits and honeysuckle and completed by a flinty minerality. Juicy with mouth-watering flavours of nectarine, lime and lemongrass, a round and creamy mouthfeel is complemented by gentle minerality and fresh acidity which contributes to a youthful and vibrant finish.
Retail price: R225-R275
What would The Little Hedonist pair it with?
I would pair the 2017 Amica with a fillet of firm white fish (like sea bass), simply grilled and seasoned with a good quality olive oil. A salad with fresh, sun-ripened or vine tomatoes and/or young goat’s cheese will also enhance the exceptional mineral qualities of this complex Sauvignon Blanc.
I would pair the livelier Groenekloof Sauvignon Blanc with herby, green dishes and salads, filled with beautiful green veggies like peppers, asparagus, basil or baby peas. Also lovely with seafood, sushi and other Asian flavours containing lime, coriander or even chilli!
Whatever the occasion (and International Sauvignon Blanc Day is the perfect excuse!) – make sure to get your hands on a bottle of Neil Ellis Sauvignon Blanc to turn your weekend get-together into an elegant afternoon soirée or your quiet meal-for-two into something truly extraordinary. Proudly South African. I couldn’t have asked for better companions this weekend!
Disclaimer: I was given this product(s) as part of a press drop in exchange for my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated/credited, are also my own.