Nitida Wine Farm is serious about Sauvignon Blanc
Durbanville estate's wines highlight the versatility of this popular grape varietal, writes Steve Steinfeld
Durbanville’s reputation for quality Sauvignon Blanc has been on the rise. It's not surprising then that it's here where you'll find Daniel Keulder, the Diners Club 2019 Winemaker of The Year, who has been dedicating a large part of his time to this varietal.
Keulder may have been awarded the prestigious Winemaker of The Year title for his Pinot Noir, but it’s clear Sauvignon Blanc is his passion. He's produced seven different styles of this popular wine at the small, family-owned cellar of Nitida Wine Farm — four labelled under the farm’s name, with the remaining three made for national retailers.
It was over a paired lunch at Van Der Linde in Linden, Joburg, that I got to explore three of the Cape farm's offerings. Considering I’ve been somewhat disillusioned by the recent consumer penchant for searingly acidic, heavily green expressions of the Sauvignon Blanc grape, I was eager to see what these wines had to offer.
NITIDA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019: R98
This is Nitida's entry-level Sauvignon Blanc. It's also its most traditional, with green undertones balanced with those of ripe tropical fruit, nectarine and hints of florals.
It is an easy drinking wine that calls for seafood dishes simply prepared with a spritz of lemon and a crack of pepper.
NITIDA THE WILD CHILD 2019: R160
The Wild Child is a wine of many processes. The grapes used to create it are sourced exclusively from four blocks of the farm's vineyard and the wine undergoes wild fermentation in barrel before being topped up with a tank-fermented Sauvignon Blanc.
True to its name, this wine is wonderfully wild. Its tasting notes are a combination of white peach, gooseberry and tomato leaf with a beautiful creamy mouthfeel balanced by the vibrant acidity of the tank-fermented addition.
It’s wine that’ll stand up to spice and pairs well with creamy dishes like a Thai green curry or pasta carbonara.
NITIDA THE GOLDEN ORB 2018: R300
The name of the flagship Sauvignon Blanc of the Nitida range is an ode to the golden orb spiders which spin glimmering webs across a block of their vineyards.
Though Keulder usually takes an old-world approach to the creation of The Golden Orb, for the 2018 vintage he took a stylistic turn towards the New World, looking to New Zealand for inspiration.
The result is a fruit bomb of a wine, lush with passion fruit, kiwi and pear layered on top of subtle herbaceous and nutty notes.
Pair it with a butter-roasted chicken with crispy skin or serve it for dessert with a pecan pie.
Overall, it was an insightful tasting that highlighted the versatility of the Sauvignon Blanc varietal. Those signature green notes may have been present but they were not overwhelming, nor was the acidity astringent.
It is clever, considered winemaking and despite Keulder’s determination to put it all down to terroir, make no mistake, there’s some serious skill at play.