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edited by Sue Courtney

Six of the Best
The Great New Zealand versus South Africa Sauvignon Blanc Taste Off
* 2002 vintage wines - Part 2*

© Sue Courtney
April 2003

This page should be read in conjunction with Part 1.

Six top New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs took on the Challenge of six top South African Sauvignon Blancs. The wines were judged in the same order by panels in both New Zealand and South Africa. This page lists the detailed tasting notes and judges comments on each wine.
Part 1 goes into more detail about the competition itself.

New Zealand Judges
- Sue Courtney: Editor, Writer and Wine Judge
SN - Simon Nunns: Chief winemaker for Coopers Creek Wines and Obsidian Wines. Wine Judge.
BM - Brent Marris: Wither Hills. Senior Wine Judge at many International competitions. Incoming Chief Judge for Air New Zealand Wine Awards next year.
KM - Kay Morganty: Wine Consultant and Senior Wine Judge
SK - Sam Kim: Fine Wine Consultant for Negociants New Zealand Limited, Senior Wine Judge and MW Candidate.

South African Judges
- Michael Fridjhon: wine commentator and judge
AL - Angela Lloyd: wine writer and judge
CR - Christine Rudman CWM: Cape Wine Master, former Principal, Cape Wine Academy
PvZ - Philip van Zyl: editor, John Platter Wine Guide
GW - Gyles Webb: Thelema winemaker

Other comments
The numbers relate to the order of the wines on the table. The tasters reported in the order shown.
Score is score out of 20 from each judge using the 20 point show system.

18.5 - 20 is gold medal standard
17.0 - 18.49 is silver medal standard
15.5 - 16.99 is bronze medal standard
Below 15.5 is 'no award'
Rank is each judges personal ranking of the wine in order from 1 to 12.

All wines were tasted blind under Show conditions.
All wines were bright and pale in the glass.

Taster Comments Score Rank
1 Fleur du Cap Limited Release Sauvignon Blanc 2002 - W.O Coastal Region, SA    
SC Full rich Sauvignon blanc flavours, sweet ripe fruit on finish tending toward stonefruit, excellent acidity but perhaps not the richness in palate due to the ripeness. Nicely balanced. Good wine. 18 6
SN Intense nose, some lifted herbal notes and oak? Sweet, upfront, tangy citrus fruit. Well balanced and a long sweet finish.. Some tomato lead notes appear with time, also nettles. 17.5 8
BM Very green nettley nose, tomato leaf. Soft front palate with green herbal characters coming through.. Bright and fresh, hint sweetness on finish. 18 6
KM Herb nose. Big flavoursome wine, gooseberry, citrus, good length, nice wine. Capsicum, tomato leaf, metal. 18 6
SK Grassy, high intensity. Sweet front palate, good concentration and palate weight. Good length. Purity. 17.5 9
  NZ Total 89  
MF Asparagus whiffs. Sweet pulpy mid palate; elegant fruit, length. 18 1
AL Intense, broad ripe asparagus, figgy nose; luscious mouthfeel with good acid spine; big, long, clean. Will age. 18.5 1
CR Ripe, intense gooseberry nose, palate; fresh, zesty; long finish; lacks weight for aging 16 4
PvZ Intense passionfruit, tropical fruit; nice racy acidity; bracing, long. 15.5 7
GW Grassy, herbaceous style on nose; good, full ripe flavours, persistent. Satisfying but perhaps too herbaceous. 17 5
  SA Total 85  
Result     2nd
2 Neil Ellis Groenekloof Sauvignon Blanc 2002 - W.O Groenekloof, SA    
SC Kind of candy aroma. Quite silky textured, creamy, just a little duller in fruit up front. Sherbet, citrus. Lacks intensity on herbal finish. 17.5 11
SN Slightly shy and simple flavours at ripe end of spectrum, stonefruit, oak? Opens up in air. Rich, ripe, nectarine characters on the palate. Well balanced, long finish, great palate but lacks aromatic intensity 17 11
BM Riper S. Blanc character on nose, broad almost tropical fatness on palate of ripe fruit, not pungent. Lovely richness and balance. Lovely greens come through on back of palate. 17.5 8
KM Soft sweet nose. Soft rounded wine, slightly flat, dull. Nice herbaceous flavours, hot, green, gooseberry. 16.5 10
SK Ripe, subtle. Good weight, fuller bodied, little alcoholic, not as expressive. 17 11
  NZ Total 85.5  
MF Dilute nose; pyrazine whiffs; greenish palate. 14.8 11
AL Ripe colour; shy nose, less obvious varietal character; better palate, good mouthfeel, leesy richness, fresh acid. Unshowy. 15 8
CR Ripe, open, fruit salad/figgy. High acid; uncomplicated, early drinking 15.5 8
PvZ Deeper colour; grassy, mineral nose; nice mouthfeel with viscosity, racy acid; firmly structured, crisp and refreshing. 16 5
GW Fermentation character on fruity nose. Palate disappoints with a flat, coarse finish. 14 10
  SA Total 75.3  
Result     11th
3 Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2002 - Marlborough, NZ    
SC Gooseberry, grassy, bright aromas, sweet herbal flavours, intense, lots of cats pee, quite classic. Musky, sweaty, sherbet, long and persistent. V.V.G. I could drink this. 19 2
SN Intense nose, slightly grubby, passionfruit in behind that and white flesh nectarines. Ditto on palate. A very concentrated wine with loads of flavour and length. Excellent. 18.5 2
BM Hint herbal armpit, richness, ripe, hints pineapple. Great depth of character, armpit character, richness, hint sweetness on finish. Gooseberry. 18.5 3
KM Juicy fruit nose, floral, melons, clean elegant wine, flavour goes on and on. Bit watery, flabby. 18.5 4
SK Aromatic, ripe fruits, sweaty, passion fruit, pineapple. Good concentration and balance. Very appealing style. Excellent varietal definition. 18.5 4
  NZ Total 93  
MF Very aromatic though quite simple; nice palate grip; 2-D nettley finish 17 4
AL Very aromatic sweaty, passionfruit; disappointingly thin palate, relies on flavours rather than structure; reasonable length with some residual sugar. 14.5 11
CR Forthcoming asparagus, vegetal nose; follows through to palate; light body; green, zesty; best young. 15 11
PvZ Hint of sweaty armpit, citrus nose; sherbety acid; citrusy palate, falls off quite quickly, effervescent finish. 15 8
GW Attractive nettly, fruity nose with touch of blackcurrant. Palate less impressive; bland, low acid and some sugar. Touch of bitterness on finish. 14 8
  SA Total 75.5  
Result     6th
4 Villa Maria Clifford Bay Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2002 - Marlborough, NZ    
SC Candy-like, greenish herbal aromas, fruity like jubes, apple-like, citrus with mango-like ripe fruits balancing it. Fairly juicy, perhaps not so 'classic', however the length is ripe and the finish is long and persistent. 17.5 10
SN Fruit driven, lifted, grapefruit and passionfruit and white flesh nectarine, slight alcohol lift? Same sweaty characters appear on palate along with stonefruit flavours. Seems a but hot but a long finish. 18 6
BM Simple pure fruit aromas. Lovely ripe mid palate, slightly short on finish, hot finish. Aromas are clean, herbal and this character follows through to palate. Simple refreshing style. 17 12
KM Big fat blowsy wine. Passionfruit nose. Short on flavour (palate), lacks body. High acid. Light and fresh. Big alcohol, out of balance. 15.5 12
SK Riper style, stone fruits, moderate intensity. Sweet on the palate, good concentration, balance and length. 18 7
  NZ Total 86  
MF Some asparagus; soft acid; sweetness 17.4 2
AL Obvious cool climate nose of rhubarb, green pea; persistent fruity acids; lacks mid palate weight; slightly coarse finish. 15 7
CR Pungent passion fruit, gooseberry nose; fresh high acid palate with good fruit concentration, length. Very recognisable varietal character; showy wine. 16.5 2
PvZ Intense pepper, tropical fruit, floral nose; lovely. Super acid and mouthfeel; showy but well structured; should age well. 17.5 1
GW Ripe nose; big, extracted wine, somewhat coarse; full bodied; perhaps a touch of sugar. Could benefit from some bottle age. Overall pretty good. 17 4
  SA Total 83.4  
Result     5th
5 Havana Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2002 - W.O Coastal Region, SA    
SC Closed, a little vegetal, quite austere, herbal acids. Dry, lots of gooseberry richness. Perhaps lacks a little in intensity and has a slight banana character. Lingers well. 17.5 9
SN Broad spectrum of aromas here. herbal lift and riper passionfruit and nectarine. These same flavours appear on the palate along with grapefruit notes. A phenolic coarseness mars. 17 10
BM Leafy, caney, herbal, tomato leaf aromas. Acid evident, gives lovely structure. Good length. Greens on finish. Good simple style of SB. Very identifiable. Grip on finish. 17 11
KM Soft melon nose, alcohol, elegant wine, European style. Lots of body, lacks crisp fruit but very drinkable (food wine). Gripping. 17.5 9
SK Subtle, green herbs, floral. Broader palate, lacks varietal intensity, full rich palate, slightly bitter finish. 17.5 8
  NZ Total 86.5  
MF Lean pyrazine notes; nettey palate ; lacking dimension 15.2 10
AL Dusty hessian, dried grass attack on nose; quite succulent with good acid core; broad, sweet-fruited finish but a bit phenolic. 16.5 5
CR Powerful green pepper, asparagus nose; follows through to palate; balance acid; very long. A show stopper with good 3-4 year aging potential. 16.5 1
PvZ Subdued grassy and tropical fruit nose; appears slightly sweet; viscous texture; slightly clumsy, lacks dimension. 15 12
GW Pressy, phenolic herbaceous nose; carries through to palate; hard, too much malic acid. 14 11
  SA Total 77.2  
Result     10th
6 Palliser Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2002 - Martinborough, NZ    
SC Really gooseberry, sweaty, strong herbal aromas. Very ripe, strong, passionfruit, mango, stonefruit with lingering gooseberry and a toasty richness. Fruit is perhaps a little OTT in palate hinting that it would be a good food wine. 18.5 4
SN Big intense rich nose, passionfruit, nectarine, some sweat. Complex. Masses of nectarine and peach characters on palate. This wine is weighty and long. 18.5 3
BM Full, slightly pungent, ripe S. Blanc aromatics. Great weight, length, richness, sightly armpitty, ripe, round, fatness, silky palate, long lingering flavoursome. Great food wine. 19 2
KM BO [ie armpit]. Herbaceous, sweet ripe, delicious. Clean and fresh, classy wine. Lovely capsicum, fruity flavour. Silky richness. 18.5 1
SK Sweaty, stone fruits, pineapple. Very ripe yet lively and zesty. Good length of flavour. 18.5 3
  NZ Total 93  
MF Very simple; sweet asparagus; no grip; too much sugar 15.6 8
AL Exaggerated sweaty, passion fruit nose; big, heavy palate, clumsiness emphasised by somewhat cloying sugar. 14 12
CR Honey, fruit salad and fynbos nose; balanced, fresh palat but lacks weight for aging. Drinking as opposed to show wine. 15 9
PvZ Piercing, appetising nose, citrusy; plenty of `give'; sweetish with nice mouthfeel; delicious not for keeping. 16 6
GW Pungent, artifical, candy floss nose; sweet and low in acid, unattractive combination. Lacks subtlety and finesse. 14 12
  SA Total 74.6  
Result     8th=
7 Springfield Estate "Life from Stone" Sauvignon Blanc 2002 - W.O Robertson, SA    
SC Very shy, green, vegetal aromas. Strong lemony acids, very dry finish. A little too austere but good persistence in finish. Lemon citrus is very strong like a fizzy sherbet lolly. 17 12
SN Slightly simple and grubby grapefruit dominated. Sweet grapefruit characters dominate the palate. Finish is a bit sweet and sour. Grippy finish. 16.5 12
BM Simple elegant aroma following onto palate. A little short on finish, acid for structure. Good length with lovely brights of fruit. Simple. Grip on finish. 17.5 10
KM Juicy fruit, metallic. High acid, clean and fresh, slightly green, lacks concentration, short. 16.5 11
SK Clean and primary but very subtle nose. Balanced but lacks concentration of fruit, fairly short. 16.5 12
  NZ Total 84  
MF Peppery notes; C02 some pyrazine mid palate; green; food friendly 15.8 7
AL Compact, minerally nose with touch herbs; cool, contained feel; good weight; crisp, fruity tail. Very different from other wines. 15 10
CR Shy fruit salad, herby nose. Well balance acid without high fruit profile; long, fresh, zesty. 15 10
PvZ Unusual white pepper nose, follows to palate; fairly crisp, lemony acid; good structure; good length; for early drinking. 16 4
GW Peppery nose, quite attractive but is it typical? Thinner palate with fruitless finish. Bit strange. 14 9
  SA Total 75.8  
Result     12th
8 Cape Point Sauvignon Blanc 2002 - W.O Cape Point, SA    
SC Shy, faintly gooseberry, green herbs, bright finish with good persistence that lingers with apple-like flavours. A little dull. 18 7
SN Rich nose. Nectarines and peaches. Clean and intense. A big, rich wine at the ripe end of the spectrum. Long finish. Slightly firm phenolic structure. 18 7
BM S. Blanc character at riper end of spectrum, reasonable texture and structure, simple fruit characters, clean, varietal, bright fruit, good length. 17.5 7
KM Low on nose, very light fruity. Pale and watery. Fine, hot, lacks ripe fruit flavour. 18 7
SK Ripe, peach, passionfruit, moderate intensity on the nose. Good concentration and balance. Good acidity. 18 5
  NZ Total 89.5  
MF Ferment esters; C02; simple mid palate; some softness, no vinosity 14.6 12
AL Full though quiet tropical, figgy nose; interesting layers; mouthfilling, weighty with lovely fantail finish. Can age. 16 6
CR Quiet nose, lemon/pear drops. Full bodied; good texture, mouthfeel; ripe lemon zest, gooseberry flavours without great power. Well made in a restrained style. 15.5 5
PvZ Grass, tropical fruit, limey nose; nice complexity; crisp, clean acid; length. Hits the spot. 16 3
GW Tropical nose; nice weight; medium length; quite good all round. 16 6
  SA Total 78.1  
Result     8th=
9 Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2002 - Marlborough, NZ    
SC Rich, ripe, pungent aroma. Strongly flavoured wine with a silky texture, excellent pungent passionfruit, grass, herbs, ripe finish well weighted with lovely balance. Persistent. Lots of green Savvie flavours linger. Excellent wine. 19.5 1
SN Lifted and intense. Loads of different aromatics. Herbal, gooseberry, passionfruit, complex. Masses of flavour. Very sweet nectarine-like fruit and a very long finish. 19 1
BM Armpit nose, lovely tropical fruit, great length and balance, richness on palate, ripe fruit, fresh, silky, lifted. Excellent balance with an abundance of fresh fruit. 19.5 1
KM Hint of BO. Green herbaceous flavours. Passionfruit. Good length, nice wine. Silky richness, intense. 18.5 2
SK Intense nose, passion fruit, sweaty. Excellent concentration. Length of flavour. Seamless. 19 1
  NZ Total 95.5  
MF Sweaty notes over fruit purity; slight hollowness; tartaric saltiness rather than herbal grip 16.2 6
AL Complex passionfruit, sweaty pungency; elegant, layered palate; good weight, succulence held together with seamless thread of acid. Good length. Classy wine. 18.5 2
CR Grassy, green asparagus, green peppers nose; high stimulating acid; picked early or cool climate; good show style but not for aging 15.5 6
PvZ Hint sweaty armpit; big citric, lemon blossom nose; really nice mouthfeel, lots of passionfruit to finish with hint of sugar. Open, showy, seductive style but will it age? 17 2
GW Pungent nettley, blackcurrant nose with gooseberry on palate; long, intense and rich. High acid needs time to soften. 18 2
  SA Total 85.2  
Result     1st
10 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2002 - Marlborough, NZ    
SC Grassy aroma, grainy textured wine, ripe lemon fruits, hints of passionfruit, drying finish. Good flavour and persistence of length. Clean and fresh. 18.5 5
SN Nose is slightly simple and grubby. Grapefruit character mingled with peach stone aroma. Open up with air. Intense palate slight acid dominated but lots of rich ripe fruit flavours. Slightly phenolic. 18 5
BM Simple elegant nose, stone fruit, Good structure, great balance, green, herbal aromas -> palate, ripe fruit with leafy, herbal greens on finish. 17.5 9
KM Light juicy nose. Light weight. Clean and fresh, nice gooseberry flavours, nectarine. Acid. Leafy. Tight finish. 17.5 8
SK Medium intensity, little BO. Ripe fruits. Good concentration, bright fruit, long finish, refreshing acidity. Slightly firm finish. 18 6
  NZ Total 89.5  
MF Spectacular colour; very fine fruit; some green fig notes; nice grip, some phenolic bitterness on finish. 16.6 5
AL Fresh, interesting nose contrasting lemongrass, figgy notes; cool, incisive entry to palate; nice weight, richness; flavours grow in mouth; big wine; touch phenolic but lovely sauvignon blanc. 18 3
CR Passionfruit and gooseberry nose; good fruit concentration with nervy acid; balanced; can age 2-3 years. 16 3
PvZ Musty nose, slightly sweaty; clean floral palate, nice acid, upbeat finish but lacks real interest 15 9
GW Nice fresh flavours with good palate texture; long finish; good balance. 18 1
  SA Total 83.6  
Result     3rd
11 Zondernaam Sauvignon Blanc 2002 - W.O Stellenbosch, SA    
SC Seems a little duller in the palate at first. Ripe with grainy stonefruit developing some passionfruit/mango on the pungent grassy finish, develops well as it lingers on the finish which is a little tough and hard. 18 8
SN Lifted and intense with ripe characters and a hint of musk. Ripe flavours, stonefruit on palate. Long finish. Touch too phenolic for top marks. 17.5 9
BM Hint oak on nose? Ripe full palate, oak evident on palate, great structure, wonderful length, hints tropical, pineapple character mixed with ripe tomato leaf, green gooseberry character. Grip on finish. 18.5 4
KM Burns my nose. Herbal, lovely full flavours. Good balance and length. Grassy finish. Phenolic. Leafy. Grippy. 18.5 5
SK Grassy, herbal, unripe. Good intensity on the palate though. Good clean finish. 17.5 10
  NZ Total 90  
MF Ferment character; fairly simple hollow centre; no vinosity nor real faults 15.4 9
AL Ripe style leesy, figgy nose; well defined if muted. Nice palate richness, balance between structure and fruit; broad, fantail finish. Better palate than nose. 17 4
CR Riper tropical fruit, figgy nose; typical sauvignon character on palate; balanced acid; short finish. A drinking wine, would love food. 15.5 7
PvZ Minerally nose with lots of interesting nuances; good follow through with good fruit definition but ends abruptly 15 10
GW Attractive nettley nose; fine; good weight, length; slightly coarse finish. 15 7
  SA Total 77.9  
Result     7th
12 Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc 2002 - Marlborough, NZ    
SC Rich gooseberry, grassy, lemony flavours, quite hot with chili capsicum. Terrific pungency, lemony flavour and length. Very ripe, pungent and very classic. A little bit yeasty first up however which detracts, but overall VVG. 18.5 3
SN Big rich wine. Flavours at the riper end of the spectrum. Touch of armpit and ripe nectarine. Palte is very well balanced with lots of nectarine flavours. Sweet fruit and a long finish. Some spice character appear with time (oak?) - like a Belgian Wheat beer,. 18.5 4
BM Ripe fruit character on nose and onto palate, gooseberry, capsicum, simple, elegant S. Blanc characters, great acid structure giving length of flavour, brightness, fresh, very varietal. 18 5
KM Grassy capsicum nose. Rich and concentrated. Elegant, clean and fresh, nice fruit flavours. Good balance. 18.5 3
SK Ripe fruits, floral, medium intensity. Excellent concentration and length of flavour. Ripe and lively. 18.5 2
  NZ Total 92  
MF Nettley and reductive; good vinosity and real length 17.2 3
AL Quiet figgy, tropical nose; fruity sweetness doesn't compensate for lack of weight; bit of alcoholic glow; reasonable length. Overall rather ordinary. 15 9
CR Unforthcoming ripe fruit salad nose. Soft palate, generous but lacks class, length or potential. Drink now. 14 12
PvZ Hints of sweat, banana and citrus overtones; minerally, passionfruit palate with good follow through and length; bit phenolic. Tasty but doesn't really stand out. 15 11
GWPungent varietal flavours; piercing gooseberry; quite good mid palate; shortish finish, touch coarse. Good nose, palate disappoints. 17 3
  SA Total 78.2  
Result     4th

Click here to read Part 1, the introduction to this tasting and the summary of results.

© Sue Courtney April 2003

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