2008 Neil Ellis "Sincerely" Sauvignon Blanc

SKU #1046881

90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright, pale yellow. Cool aromas of citrus peel, gooseberry, licorice and pepper, with a whiff of tropical fruits. Round but dry, with classic, pure varietal flavors of gooseberry and pepper. This dense, textured wine finishes with sneaky length." (March/April '09) And, according to Wine Spectator: "A nice crunchy style, with sea salt and lime notes kept perky by mouthwatering acidity. Begs for some oysters. Drink now." (03/09) I first visited Neil Ellis in 2002 at his winery in the gorgeous Jonkershoek Valley. All of his wines reflect attention to detail and a commitment to quality, but to find a wine like the Sincerely at this price point is a rare thing these days. In his "hommage" to Sancerre (Sancerrely?) Neil blends fruit from multiple vineyards located in the wards of Groenekloof and Stellenbosch, with an average age of 12 years and up to 22, and soils of decomposed granite and some clay. Fermentation was done at cool temperatures and left on the lees for 3 months before blending. The nose is full of lime peel, passion fruit, tropical fruit, minerals and a light herb note. On the palate, the wine is bright and vibrant with zesty acidity and very nice length. This is an altogether refreshing summertime white wine for a song. (Jim Chanteloup, South African wine buyer)

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Price: $7.99
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Staff Image By: John Majeski | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 9/7/2009 | Send Email
"I'd like to put the fun and passion back into wine". In Sincerely, cool-climate expert and innovative winemaker Neil Ellis has done exactly that by fashioning a precision sauvignon blanc that confidently expresses itself in a tantalizing, mineral tongue of almost Sancerre-like dimensions. Born of optimal fruit sourced and handpicked from selected sites in the Jonkershoek district of Stellenbosch, this crisp white embraces the palate with its thirst-quenching, enlivened flavors of white grapefruit, fig blossom, herbals and gooseberry. If South Africa and its innovative cadre of winemakers continue to produce sauvignon blanc in this sophisticated, elegant style it will soon compete with both Sancerre and New Zealand for prominence in the new century.

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Sauvignon Blanc

- One of the best known "international" varieties originally cultivated in France and considered the parent of, with Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon. Sauvignon's wonderfully distinctive aromatics generate some of wine's most colorful descriptors, among them "cat pee," herbaceous, grassy, citrusy the world over. In France, the apex of Sauvignon Blanc production is the Loire Valley, in the appellations of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, where the terroir expresses itself most beautifully through the grape. Sauvignon Blanc is also the leading white grape varietal in Bordeaux, where it is paired with the fatter, richer Sémillon to varying degrees. Relatively easy to cultivate, though more suited to cool climates, Sauvignon Blanc has made inroads in Europe outside of France, especially in Northeastern Italy's Friuli and Alto Adige, but also on the Slovenian border. These lovely wines are often overshadowed by Sauvignon Blanc's achievements in the New World, namely New Zealand, South Africa and California. New Zealand's Sauvignon Blancs, more conspicuously fruity than most French examples, landed the small island nation on the world wine map in the late-1980s and 1990s. South African Sauvignons are one of the most successful international varieties produced in that country and are often quite elegant and affordable. In California, Robert Mondavi managed to, almost single-handedly, created a market for Sauvignon Blanc by renaming his oak-fermented version Fumé Blanc. While some wineries still use the name, California Sauvignon Blanc has secured its place in the California wine pantheon, particularly those from the Napa Valley. Washington State, Chile and Argentina also have considerable plantings of the grape.

South Africa

- Now that it has adopted a multi-racial attitude, and now that the world has embraced its government and its exports, South Africa has become a major wine producer. Unfortunately, South Africa has had a difficult time joining the ranks of competitive winemaking countries. During the anti-apartheid sanctions in the 1980s, South African wine was dealt the huge blow when it was removed from the international market, and for political reasons it was quite difficult for wine producers to market wine to the black majority. Things are finally looking up for the wine industry here, and quality has never been higher. South Africa produces a grape cloned from Pinot Noir and Cinsault, called Pinotage, which is the country's unique varietal. Chenin Blanc (known as Steen) makes up one-third of its vines. Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Shiraz are becoming increasingly popular as are Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Click for a list of bestselling items from South Africa.