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Tuesday, 13 September 2011

7Springs Sauvignon Blanc, 2010, South Africa

According to its website, South Africa's Seven Springs Vineyard is "a premium winery, situated in the picturesque Western Cape where [cooling] oceanic influence, coupled with shale-derived soils, gives the vines the potential to produce exceptional grapes."

The story behind the winery is quite interesting and worthy of re-telling- UK-based founder Tim Pearson (pictured), with a background in agronomy and marketing, eventually made what he describes as "sufficient money, but by no means a fortune" in the somewhat unglamorous commercial cleaning business in the West Midlands to move into wine production where his real passion lies.

Tim's background as a businessman with marketing experience is very evident - he has an easy, relaxed charm, combined with a tenacity, purposefulness and attention to detail that is very impressive.

However, he seems to talk little about the subject of wine and rather reminds me of one of those Victorian patriarchs whose role is more or less limited to fathering the child and then ensuring it gets into the right places (Eton, Oxford, the House of Lords, that sort of thing).

It's certainly good business practice to stick to what you know, but it perhaps does not make for such a Romantic a story as the investment banker who gives it all up to work the land and prune the vines with his own hands in a tumble-down farmhouse in a village in the south of France.

All of this is of course irrelevant to the quality of the wine itself.

In the glass, it is a pale, sandy yellow; the nose is relatively restrained with green, herbaceous aromas, a touch of mineral edge and a hint of seashells.

The palate is full and rounded, with ripe peach and pear, tropical-fruit acidity balanced with good minerality and just a touch of gunsmoke mixed in with green nettles.

The finish is dry and minerally and it feels well made throughout.

In style, it is a slightly curious mixture of the Old World and the New - with the restraint and minerality of a Loire combined with the ripe palate and mouthfeel of a Marlborough.

It is very much a wine-drinker's wine - crowd-pleasing yet sophisticated - rather than a wine critic's wine that, say, impresses more on a structural or technical level.

To me, this wine is Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver: easy on the eye, with the potential to develop into something more complex, challenging and sophisticated once it's grown up a bit and is no longer quite so keen to impress - say, into Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling - once the young vines gain a few more years' age.

It can be enjoyed pretty much straight from the bottle, but benefits even from just half-an-hour's airing and is still developing the following day.

We matched it simple grilled plaice and goat's cheese risotto, but found the simple, classic food a little overwhelmed by the wine; a better match would be something richer with stronger flavours such as Thai fishcakes, a creamy fish pie or sushi.

Current UK retailers are:

City Beverage Company, London – http://www.citybeverage.co.uk/
Cybercellar (online) – http://www.cybercellar.co.uk/
Fraser Group / Budgens, Yarnton, Oxon – http://www.frasergroup.co.uk/
Proteas Wines, Northumbria – http://www.proteaswines.co.uk/
C.A. Rookes, Stratford upon Avon – http://www.johnfreeland.plus.com/
Underwood Wines, Warwick – http://www.underwoodwines.co.uk/
Vin Neuf, Stratford upon Avon – http://www.vinneuf.co.uk/

Provided for review; selling price is around £10, which is towards the upper end of what I would expect but still reasonable for something of this quality.

There are also blog reviews of this wine by Quaffable (here), Grapefan (here) and Simon Woods (here)


7Springs - http://7springs.co.za/

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