With 176 entries received for this year’s FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 Awards and judging taking place over four days, a podium finish was always going to be a rare and very difficult achievement. But that’s exactly what the Bellingham Sauvignon Blanc 2018 achieved when the results of this annual competition were released on 10 October, being one of South Africa’s Top 10 Sauvignon Blanc.
The FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 is organised by the wine industry’s Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group (SBIG) and has been presented annually since 2007 to promote excellence and innovation in the making of South Africa’s most commercially successful white wine, which translated literally, means ‘wild white’.
The Bellingham Sauvignon Blanc is from a vineyard in Groot Fisantekraal, Durbanville and the bigger appellation makes this label a Wine of Origin Cape Town.
According to Bellingham winemaker Mario Damon, the long-running drought made the 2018 harvest a challenging one, with uneven ripening that forced the vineyard and cellar teams to think on their feet. They ultimately decided to pick the Sauvignon Blanc grapes at three different stages of ripeness. The first batch was harvested early at a lower alcohol, with a tight, bracing acidity yet still, while the two later harvests added riper and beautifully expressive fruit definition and richness on the palate. The last harvest was done by machine at night.
In the cellar, the grapes received skin contact overnight for optimum flavour extraction before receiving extended time on the primary lees with regular stirring. The juice was then racked off the lees and cold fermentation ensued. The whole winemaking process was treated very reductively, that is with limited exposure to oxygen, to protect the vibrant, fresh fruit character of the grapes.
The Bellingham Sauvignon Blanc is complex yet approachable. Beautiful light, pale yellow with a golden tinge, it shows exotic melon, pear and citrus flavours on the nose. The palate offers an expected burst of citrus and tropical flavours with a crisp and clean finish. Mario, who is an avid home cook, considers this the ultimate seafood wine. “The bright acidity gives the wine a texture that is exceptional when combined with any seafood dish, from fresh linefish to something richer like mussels in a white wine sauce.”
The winning Bellingham Sauvignon Blanc 2018 is available from the winery wine shop or at leading fine wine retailers while stocks last.