Lovers of Sauvignon Blanc now have something more to look forward to. South Africa has launched the world’s first wine route dedicated entirely to a specific varietal.
South Africa despite making wines for centuries is still considered a new world wine region. On a closer look, the Cape Winelands are among those wine-producing regions in the world that for many decades have been leading in establishing new wine tourism trends. Their latest coup? A varietal specific wine route!
Officially launched on the 1st of May, the new Sauvignon Blanc Route is open to the public from the 7th of May, also known as annual Sauvignon Blanc Day.
Why Sauvignon Blanc?
Food friendly with fresh acidity, Sauvignon Blanc is a grape variety that originally comes from the Bordeaux region of France. Today, the variety is planted across many of the wine regions around the world.
Sauvignon Blanc has grown in popularity over the past few decades thanks to its huge versatility, producing wines that can range from crisp and dry to sweet and rich (think of the sweet wines of Sauternes for the latter part). They are also typically straightforward, expressing an amazing range of exotic aromas and flavours.
South Africa now produces around 10% of the worlds Sauvignon Blanc and a large part of these are made across the Constantia area. Nearly 45% of Constantia’s total hectares under vine are planted with Sauvignon Blanc. Local winemakers always have held the variety dear and there are several outstanding examples of Sauvignon Blanc made in the area.
The local style of South African Sauvignon Blanc is distinguished by a certain greenness and possesses an extra palate weight. Depending on the different regional characteristics, you can expect South African Sauvignon Blanc’s to fall into the following categories:
Tropical and yellow fruits driven: tropical flavours and aromas of papaya, guava, banana, and pineapple coupled with stone fruit, and some citrus elements.
Spicy and herbaceous: racy flavours and aromas such as capsicum, paprika, fresh and canned asparagus, tinned peas, grass, nettles, English gooseberry, grass, tomato vine, celery and herbs.
Flinty and mineral: with more serious, lean flavours and aromas such as gunflint, river pebbles, steel, and smokiness, coupled with earthy undertones of mushroom, damp earth and the smell of rain falling on a dirt road.
Lime, green melon and grapefruit: Lively, spicy flavours and aromas of fresh citrus coupled with spring buds, white flowers and very clean and refreshing on the palate.
Introducing Sauvignon Blanc Wine Route in Constantia
Located a mere 20 minutes from Cape Town’s sprawling Waterfront, perched on the southern slopes of Table Mountain, beautiful Constantia Valley is the birthplace of South African wine production. Grapes have been grown here since 1685, the year Simon Van der Stel founded South Africa’s first wine farm, Groot Constantia.
Constantia’s Wine Route perhaps remains the country’s most famous. To learn more about the route, which comprises the leading wineries in the Constantia area, check out my post Exploring the Constantia Wine Route in Cape Town.
Now the area amplifies its already exciting wine tourism offer, adding the first wine route in the world dedicated to a specific varietal.
Sauvignon Blanc grapes were likely planted in South Africa for the first time around the late 1880 at Groot Constantia. Today, the variety is grown across all South African wine regions and most local wineries will at least produce one Sauvignon Blanc as part of their wine range.
Whilst you can off course taste the varietal as part of a wider tasting, or specifically picking it when visiting one of the Constantia wineries, with the official creation of the Sauvignon Blanc Wine Route, participating wineries commit to offer a special wine tasting comprising a Sauvignon Blanc from the latest released harvest along with one older vintage of Sauvignon Blanc in a vertical tasting to illustrate the aging potential of the variety. Which otherwise they might not always have on offer on the general tasting menu.
Another benefit for visitors opting for the Sauvignon Blanc tasting is the newly created Sauvignon Blanc loyalty card. The card will enable visitors to get special discounts off the mixed case of Sauvignon Blanc that can be ordered at the online wine shop of the general Constantia Wine Route. Available discounts at the time of writing are 5% off after visiting and tasting at three of the participating wine farms, and a 10% discount after visiting and tasting at six of the farms.
Also, there is no time limit in completing the Sauvignon Blanc Route so you can keep the ticket / loyalty card and complete the tastings at your own pace and still apply for the discount.
With the launch of the Constantia Sauvignon Blanc Wine Route, nine of the local wineries will initially take part in the newly created specific tasting and combined tickets. They will be joined by a tenth winery once the 2021 harvest will be released.
Please note: Participating wineries usually accept visitors without prior appointment unless otherwise stated. However, different rules might still apply due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Please make sure to check each winery’s website and familiarize with the latest security measurements and requirements in place before visiting.
Always a favourite of mine to drop by and have a tasting and grabbing a table at the Bistro before or after (which I share by many judging from the usual crowds).
Steenberg produces several Sauvignon Blanc under their Estate and Flagship ranges.
A wine farm well worth visiting for many reasons – including the beautiful tasting area and their excellent restaurant.
The current Sauvignon Blanc tasting at Klein Constantia comprises the newly released 2020 Sauvignon Blanc along with the 2017 vintage.
Another one to typically draw crowds, and for a good reason.
Reasons to visit on top of wine – the beautiful views over False Bay from their stunning glass cube (aka tasting room).
Visiting Constantia Glen, I will usually make sure to time my visit around lunch time and either have a table at their restaurant or enjoy one of their platters or flammkuchen.
Silvermist Vineyards – by appointment only
A bit off the beaten track, which might be one of the reasons wine tasting is by appointment only. Yet the views are all worth it – and off course their wines.
Constantia Royal – by appointment only
The winery is one of the latest to emerge in the Constantia area, with their first vineyards planted in 2002 and the first harvest released in 2015.
Initially growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc, based on the huge success of the first Sauvignon Blanc vintage, the winery quickly decided to solely focus on this variety. All vineyards were replanted with Sauvignon Blanc and a small portion of Semillon for potential future blending.
Located in the area of Nova Zonnestraal, Constantia Royal is a working farm that grows vines, olives and also dedicates a part of their farm to their own horses.
There Sauvignon Blanc is made at the cellar of Constantia Utsig.
The Sauvignon Blanc tasting at Constantia Royal is by appointment only.
Eagles Nest – will release their first Sauvignon Blanc with the release of the 2021 harvest
For me personally, no trip to the Constantia Valley is complete without spending some time under the huge trees in the beautiful Eagles Nest garden, glass of wine and one of their platters included.
If you love Sauvignon Blanc, add the new Constantia Sauvignon Blanc Wine Route to your bucket list. Otherwise, add the area just because it is absolutely stunning and offers a huge range of amazing wine and food experiences.