On April 10, 2010, the International Wine Review (IWR) in collaboration with Wine Concepts of the Newlands in Cape Town organized a blind tasting of Sauvignon Blanc from Chile and South Africa at The Boardroom in the beautiful Bistro 1682 at Steenberg Vineyards in Constantia, Cape Town. In recent years, these two countries have developed strong reputations for producing Sauvignon Blanc that is competitive in quality and price with that produced anywhere else in the world, including the Loire and New Zealand. Since most of the wines and the tasters were South African, the event was less a real Tasteoff and more an evaluation of South African Sauvignon Blanc. However, the tasting panel did reach consensus on its preferred wines, listed below.
The tasting panel was led by Mike Bampfield-Duggan (l) of Wine Concepts and Don Winkler (r) of the IWR. In the opinions of the tasting panel, many of the wines tasted were of exceptionally high quality, not surprising given that wines were selected for the tasting based on the previous, positive assessments of the wines by the organizers of the Tasteoff. We’ve grouped our preferred wines into three categories:  Best of Southern Hemisphere,  Single Vineyard, Distinct Terroir and  Exceptional South African Sauvignon Blanc.
Best of Southern Hemisphere
Two wines stood out as being particularly distinctive in terms of their overall complexity, balance, and interest. Interestingly, both wines are made by small wineries led by female winemakers sourcing fruit from especially cool climate vineyards. The two wines are:
Trizanne 2009 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Elim, South Africa
This is a refined and elegant wine, superbly balanced with aromas and flavors of white melon and chalky minerals with other, light notes of wet wool and lemongrass. Its interestingly complexity comes from Sauvignon Blanc picked at various stages of ripeness and left sur lie for an extended time and from a small addition (15%) of Semillon. While the Semillon is wooded, no oak aromas or flavors are noticeable in the wine, but the Semillon does serve to soften the acidity and contribute lanolin to the mouthfeel. From maritime vineyards in Elim near Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa. Made by Trizanne Barnard (pictured here), a much-traveled winemaker who has made wine in the Margaret River, Alsace, St. Estèphe, Rhone, and the Douro Valley.
Casa Marin 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Cipreses Vineyard San Antonio, Chile
This terroir-driven wine shows minerals and perfumed citrus with honeysuckle and chalk notes on the nose. This super refined and delicate wine is full-flavored, exhibiting beautiful balance and a chalky texture. From a very low-yielding hilltop vineyard of extremely poor soils located 4 km from the cold Pacific; strong winds serve to naturally keep yields low. Made by María Luz Marín, previously winemaker at Concha y Toro, and who blazed the trail for other female winemakers in Chile.