A Gooseberry from South Africa - 2013 Helderberg Winery Sauvignon Blanc


2013 Helderberg Winery Sauvignon Blanc
Stellenbosch, South Africa

13% ABV
Highly Recommended

I popped this open without much thought a few nights ago to accompany the task of brining a chicken. What a surprise. This is another bottle from our wine.com subscription, which is truly the gift that keeps on giving. It's also a testament to why letting someone else choose your wine every once and a while is a great thing. The bottles aren't what I would normally purchase but they're consistently tasty and lift me out of the funky, all natural wine rut I often find myself in.

Sauvignon Blanc, especially from New Zealand, is known for being one of the most distinctively aromatic and unique wines in the world. If you aren't familiar with this varietal's New World manifestations, the following tasting notes may come across as ridiculously far-fetched and only further the stereotype of the overindulged, effete wino who has nothing better to do than regurgitate wine industry jargon. If you don't believe me, I don't know what else to tell you... other then to go buy this wine or any other premium Sauvignon Blanc and give it a whirl!

Rather unassuming, pretty pale lemon/green in color, disguising an incredible, endlessly layered and extravagantly expressive nose. Hyperbole? Maybe a little, but no joke, this juice is supercharged. On the nose, lime, gooseberries (say what? see here), muskiness, and a pleasant, light, buttery richness that contributes an added level of complexity. After 10 minutes in the glass, a strong and attractive greenness developed fully on the nose as well, usually described as anything from cut grass, asparagus, or bell pepper/capsicum. All of those may apply here, though the capsicum seems to be the most dominant. And, well, there's a hint of the classic cool climate Sauvignon Blanc notes of.. cat pee. Yup, and it's not all that bad. 

The palate is crisp, dry, but also lush with a silky mouthfeel. Lots of refreshing, zesty acid, and a healthy amount of minerality that provides the foundation for the pure fruit. Damn, really tasty. I found myself shoving my nose as far as I could into the glass as my mouth salivated for more. Pure, clean, well-balanced, with a load of personality.

I have nothing but good things to say about this wine other than that I have no idea which vineyards this came from or which viticultural practices were used. That being said, South Africa has two unique industry-wide sustainability programs that are worth mentioning. The Integrity and Sustainability Certification requires sustainability credentials in the vineyard and winery and allows wineries to put the seal on the neck of bottles (see right) that tracks the bottle back to its origin. It's not all fluff either and is one of the most aggressive industry-wide sustainability efforts in the world. The World Wildlife Fund also partnered with the industry on The Biodiversity & Wine Initiative, an unprecedented partnership that has led to the conservation of more than 135,000 hectares of land in the Cape Floral Kingdom, the richest plant kingdom in the world. You can read more about all of the initiatives here.