What I Drank Last Night
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Hermit on the Hill The White Knight 2009

Slayer of dragons.

Slayer of dragons.

On Sunday, a blind tasting exploring top-end Sauvignon Blanc. [Please note: This was a informal affair conducted among friends. The scores below are my own.] All wines from the 2009 vintage, all bar the Hermit on the Hill single property wines, some single variety and others Sauvignon-dominated blends, some unwooded and others wooded.

What insights? It would appear that local producers seeking greatness from the variety are well advised to blend and also be prepared to use some oak as a means of achieving greater complexity.

The Hermit on the Hill The White Knight 2009 made by garagiste Pieter de Waal was the tasting group’s wine of the day and I have to say I was really glad to see it perform so well – I nominated it for 5 Stars in Platter’s 2012 but it was ultimately not endorsed. The Klein Constantia Perdeblokke 2009 also deserves special mention as my best locally produced single-variety Sauvignon Blanc on the day – the new regime at this property is really excited about this block and I think with good reason.

95
Hermit on the Hill The White Knight 2009
64% Sauvignon Blanc, 31% Semillon, 5% Muscat. Lime through peach – great fruit purity, electrifying acidity. Unbelievable focus.

Tokara Director’s Reserve 2009
70% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Semillon. Citrus and peach, subtle vanilla, just a hint of reduction, some leesy complexity. Pure with a fantastic line of acidity.

94
Cape Point Vineyards Isliedh 2009
85% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Semillon. Citrus though blackcurrant, spice and a vague saltiness. Has breadth and depth.

93
Chamonix Reserve 2009
88% Sauvignon Blanc, 12% Semillon. Lime, peach and granadilla, some leesy complexity, subtle vanilla. Lovely fruit purity.

91
Leyda Garuma Vineyard 2009 (Leyda Valley, Chile)
Great composure – good concentration, bright acidity. Peach upfront, some spicy bite on the finish.

Shannon Vineyards Sanctuary Peak 2009
85% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Semillon. Subtle nose of lime, a hint of blackcurrant and spice. Great line of acidity. Particularly elegant.

90
Klein Constantia Perdeblokke 2009
Peach, grapefruit plus a herbal top-note. Well balanced – good palate weight, snappy acidity.

Vergelegen 2009
65% Sauvignon Blanc, 35% Semillon. Very understated – notes of lime through peach plus some white pepper on the finish. Pleasantly lean with bright acidity.

89
Lomond Snowbush 2009
55% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Semillon, 15% Viognier. Reductive on the nose. Palate has nice breadth showing peach and subtle white pepper.

88
Denis Jamain Les Pierres Plates 2009 (Rieully, Loire)
Lime and peach, some honey. Moderate acidity. Really appealing if not super-complex.

Hermanuspietersfontein Die Bartho 2009
71% Sauvignon Blanc 20% Semillon, 9% Nouvelle. Gravel road dustiness on the nose. Green pepper through white peach. Bright acidity but lacks dimension.

McNaught & Walker White Ash Bluff 2009 (Marlborough, New Zealand)
Range of flavour from nettles to pineapple. Sweet, rich and thick-textured. Soft acidity.

Nitida Coronata Integration 2009
56% Sauvignon Blanc , 44% Semillon. Pleasant herbal character plus some more maritime notes to go with tinned peas and honey. Rich and full with moderate acidity.

Steenberg Woolworths Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2009
Peach, some pyrazine bite on the finish and definite yeasty note. Rich and already quite developed.

Concha Y Toro Terrunyo Block 28 2009 (Casablanca Valley, Chile)
A floral note plus lime on the nose. Pure and focused. Lighter style with a really dry finish.

87
L’Abeille de Fieuzal 2009 (Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux)
Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon. Oxidative with a cheesy note to go with honeysuckle and vanilla. Peach, bruised apple and some honey. Past best?

86
Fryer’s Cove 2009
Green bean, fynbos and honey. Quite lean although acidity thankfully not too hard.

The Berrio 2009
Green bean through pineapple. Good texture and coated acidity.

85
Diemersdal Eight Rows 2009
Intensely flavoured with an aggressive pyrazine edge. Weighty and lacking some finesse.

84
Black Oystercatcher Blanc Fumé 2009
100% barrel fermented. Shows notes of asparagus, thatch and wood polish. Thick textured and lacks freshness.

 

Comments

  1. “The White Knight” is amusingly aptly named too, considering recent events on the South African writing scene…
    I have not tried tried the wine yet, but your notes certainly make me remedy this.

  2. Kwispedoor says:

    The thing I like about most of The Hermit’s wines is that they are properly dry – no tinkering around with sugar for supposed “palate weight/roundness/balance”. Just an authentic fermentation process that produces authentic wines. I’m so glad I still have two bottles of that 2009 The White Knight left, but also sad that I only have two (when to drink it, is now my conundrum).

  3. Yes. That White Knight is fantastic. Very happy to see that it is aging so well. Was it also not the cheapest among the lot?

    • The joy of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc-based blends is that you can pretty much drink the best in the world without having to take out a second mortgage on the house.

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