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 NEW WORLD: Sauvignon Blanc, Rest of the World

2016 Gold: 1 Silver: 4 Bronze: 10 Commended: 7
2015 Gold: 0 Silver: 4 Bronze: 6 Commended: 2

South Africa doesn’t often pick up Golds here (one in the past four years), so on one level it’s no great surprise that their best wines topped out at Silver. But on the other hand, given the miles of coastline and cool-climate opportunities there’s bound to be disappointment in the Cape. Particularly given the hatfuls of medals awarded to Chile and New Zealand.

Instead, our only place on the Gold List went to a Californian Fumé style. The wine wasn’t especially cheap either, so food-friendliness must have trumped any concerns about budget. Well done to Mondavi, though, who pioneered this style in California decades ago – and in spite of the reservations of the industry at the time.

FROM THE TASTING TEAMS

‘The South Africans are making two styles, Old World and New World. The more expensive stuff did get more mineral, more terroir-specific – more Old World in style. Very good value. It’s a nice alternative to a Kiwi Sauvignon.’ Harry Crowther, M Restaurants

‘Consistently high quality. There was some real diversity and quality in the South African flight at all price points.’ Natasha Hughes MW, team leader

‘Reasonably priced and well made.’ Bart Michalewicz, The Arts Club

‘There was a change in styles as they became more expensive: less exuberant, and more mineral, which made it more interesting.’ Laurent Richet MS, Restaurant Sat Bains

“The South Africans are trying to get back from the blowsy style. The same tasting two years ago would have been much richer and riper.” Matthieu Longuère MS, Le Cordon Bleu

“Our customers are not prepared to pay top prices for New World Sauvignon Blanc. They want Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé.” Gustavo Medina, Tate Britain