2012 Buitenverwachting "Bayten" Sauvignon Blanc Constantia

SKU #1130529 90 points Wine Spectator

 Ripe but well-focused, with straw, white peach, kiwifruit pulp and pink grapefruit notes all wound together and extending through the well-defined finish. Very solid, this should mellow with modest cellaring. Drink now through 2015.  (5/ 2013)

Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Pale straw-yellow. Sexy aromas of gooseberry, grass and fig complicated by a chalky note. Very ripe but dry, with slightly exotic lime and fig flavors enlivened by strong acidity and flinty minerality. Finishes dusty and persistent.

K&L Notes

"Long referred to as "Bayten" by locals, Buitenverwachting is located on the east-facing slopes of the Constantiaberg. The vineyards originally formed part of the Constantia Estate which was founded by the Cape's first governor, Simon van der Stel, in the late 17th century. Breezes sweeping in from False Bay, a mere 12 kilometers away, make it one of South Africa's coolest winegrowing areas. 2012 was an outstanding vintage for Sauvignon Blanc. The cool, dry growing season allowed for very slow ripening, resulting in grapes that achieved full phenolic ripeness yet retained lots of fresh acidity. A portion of the handpicked grapes were whole bunch pressed, while the remainder was crushed and left in contact with the skins for 12 hours before pressing. The juice was inoculated with five select yeast cultures, and a long, cool fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks over a period of 21 days. The wine was aged on its lees in tank for three months prior to bottling. This crisp, zesty Sauvignon Blanc displays text book aromas and flavors of green fig, gooseberry and lime. Grassy herbal notes are supported by elegant underpinnings of mineral and chalk." (Importer's notes)

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Varietal:

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.
Country:

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.