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2014 Tierhoek Sandveld Sauvignon Blanc, Piekenierskloof
Originating from the rugged, mountainous ward of Piekenierskloof on the border with Cederberg, the wines at Tierhoek are made by Roger Burton, now helped by Carla Niewoudt, with fruit from the farm, which is the only fully-restored Sandveld farm in South Africa. Carla joined the estate a couple of years ago and previously worked in the McLaren Vale and Sonoma, as well as in different estates in South Africa. Roger remains at the estate as consultant winemaker. The wines continue to exude a sense of place, with the older vine components bringing depth and complexity.
The term Sandveld is not strictly defined, sometimes being applied to the geographical area, traditionally the sandy plains, between Tierhoek and the coast or it is used to describe areas of sparse, open vegetation. In a more holistic sense it refers to the ‘going back in time feel’ that the farmhouse at Tierhoek embodies, in both its architectural style, with thick, whitewashed walls and the practical, simple furniture, made from local fruit woods (in particular orange wood) that furnish this style of property.
The Skimmelberg Mountain provides an incredible backdrop to vineyards. The Sandveld Sauvignon Blanc is made from grapes that are produced organically (though not certified, all the vineyards are tended along organic principles). The vines grow on fragmented sandstone and silica soils, benefiting from the cooler, higher altitude climate, typical of the region. Harvesting is by hand and careful selection is carried out in the vineyards. Roger aims to produce a wine that is fresh and clean in style, with balance between varietal character and a sense of place.
An important white grape in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley that has now found fame in New Zealand and now Chile. It thrives on the gravelly soils of Bordeaux and is blended with Sémillon to produce fresh, dry, crisp Bordeaux Blancs, as well as more prestigious Cru Classé White Graves.
It is also blended with Sémillon, though in lower proportions, to produce the great sweet wines of Sauternes. It performs well in the Loire Valley and particularly on the well-drained chalky soils found in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, where it produces bone dry, highly aromatic, racy wines, with grassy and sometimes smoky, gunflint-like nuances.
In New Zealand, Cloudy Bay in the 1980s began producing stunning Sauvignon Blanc wines with extraordinarily intense nettly, gooseberry, and asparagus fruit, that set Marlborough firmly on the world wine map. Today many producers are rivalling Cloudy Bay in terms of quality and Sauvignon Blanc is now New Zealand`s trademark grape.
It is now grown very successfully in Chile producing wines that are almost halfway between the Loire and New Zealand in terms of fruit character. After several false starts, many South African producers are now producing very good quality, rounded fruit-driven Sauvignon Blancs.