Today’s taste test focuses on another South African wine; this time the Dombeya Sauvignon Blanc 2008 from Stellenbosch.
Background: Something old is something new again!
Even though wines were produced in South Africa for 350 years, the country itself is still considered a new world producer. In the earliest of years, wine production and techniques were influenced by European settlers from the Netherlands, England, Italy, and Germany. Although the South African wine industry was growing and production improving, the exportation of South African wines was still quite limited through the 20th century.
In the 1990’s a confluence of events:
1) Nelson Mandela’s freedom in 1990
2) The introduction of democracy in 1994
3) The economic and political desire to reemerge on the international trading market
4) Investment capital in export industries i.e. wine
As such, an old world wine industry becomes a new world wine producer.
The winery: Dombeya Wines
The Dombeya tree (tropical hydrangea) is native to South Africa, with extraordinarily beautiful flowers that bring South Africa’s spring season to life. The Dombeya tree, which is interspersed throughout the region and symbolizes regeneration and renewal for modern-day South Africa, is the namesake for this hand-crafted winemaker. Located in the heart of Stellenbosch, home to some of South Africa’s best wines, Dombeya Wines is committed to producing wines characteristically representative of the region.
The wines of Dombeya are made by Rianie Strydom, one of South Africa’s most celebrated wine makers. Since commencing winemaking duties at Dombeya in 2005, her wines have won many awards and gold medals, including a Veritas Awards Double-Gold Medal in 2007 for the 2005 Boulder Road Shiraz.
The Soil and Viticulture
The two sites that the vineyards come from are in Stellenbosch, one on the Helderberg Mountain and the other in Faure. Both vineyards are southeast facing and receive cooling sea-breezes from the ocean in the afternoon. The soil consists of coarse sand with underlying clay and “coffee-stone” fragments. The latter is very common in the Helderberg area.
The 2008 harvest was not without difficulty for the making of Sauvignon Blanc, due to rain in the ripening period. One benefit though was that the average night temperatures were relatively low compared to the day temperatures which was great for the preservation of flavour. This allowed for slower ripening and thus better phenolic ripeness at lower sugar levels. The wine has a lovely tropical
balance and a full mouth feel, which makes it a lovely food wine.
The grapes were handpicked before 10am to preserve the flavours and fermented with Zymaflor VL3 and Anchor Vin 7 yeast strains at average temperature below 15°C. After ferment the wine was kept on the gross lees until bottling in August. The vineyards were planted in 2001 and are well protected from direct sunlight due to its vigorous growth.
The Wine: Dombeya Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Total Extract: 24.0 g/l
Res sugar: 3.5 g/l
T.A.: 7.2 g/l
V.A.: 0.46 g/l
On our 1st pour we noticed a very light, pale straw color, a crisp dry taste with a hint of fruit. The wine had a good “feel” in the mouth. We sensed the wine would pair well with food, seafood in particular. So we served a shrimp, scallop, and tomato ceviche, pan seared, Cajun spiced, Grouper with a tropical salsa, and a rice pilaf. The ceviche is an acidic dish using lemon and lime juice as its main cooking ingredients. Usually this level of acidity will “kill” the taste of the wine but we were surprised! The underlying fruit became quite pronounced and the wine had a very fruity taste with this pairing. Next came the grouper and pineapple salsa. Once again the wine did fine; offering a good balance between fruit and acid. A really nice taste and complement to the meal.
This wine truly demonstrates a range of flavor. Served as an apéritif the wine demonstrates a steely reserved character with a hint of fruit. Paired with an acidic dish, the wine is transformed into a fruity delight. Served with a spicy and sweet dish the true balance is shown.
Where to buy the wine:
Magnum Wine & Spirits
A special thank you to the folks at GOS Wines for their support in providing information and the wine.