It is so nice just to crack open a bottle without the need for forward planning, menu matching and so on. That was what these wines were for; mid-week slurping with no pressure to blog them. So what if they had damaged labels? I wouldn’t need to photograph them anyway.
One of the wines just happened to be a South African Sauvignon Blanc. I had made some particularly garlicky, garlic bread, and a dish of creamy, just as garlicky, pasta with a few sundried tomatoes and torn ‘Italian meats’ tossed in and was half way through the bottle when I suddenly realised just how good the combination was. The wine, soft and gentle, rather than a gob-smacking, gooseberry-mouthful was a hit with the (always wine friendly) garlic. So enjoyable was the meal that only a dribble was retained in the bottle for ‘tasting purposes’ the following day.
Arabella was not on the list of visited estates during my recent trip; they are located out in Robertson in the Breede River Valley. Further inland and away from the coastal influences of Stellenbosch and Franschoek the focus of the trip.
With 176 hectares of vineyards Arabella concentrate, like most South African producers, on Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz. Interestingly they are experimenting with plantings of Barbera, Sangiovese,Tempranillo and Mouvèdre and something called Nouvelle (a crossing of Semillon and Crouchen Blanc, to be blended with Sauvignon Blanc). No mention on the label of this Nouvelle is included in this bottling; with the planting only occurring in 2006 one assumes not.
They harvest the Sauvignon in two batches. The first, 15%, is picked unripe and ‘green’, the remainder when fully ripe. The ‘green’ portion supplies the acidity, cut grass and green pepper flavours; when blended with the ripe fruit the aim is to have a resultant wine with a more complex structure and flavour than a ‘straight’ wine would have.
Wine Tasting Note: Arabella Sauvignon Blanc, 2008, Robertson, South Africa.
Stockist: Naked Wines Price: £6.99 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
Without the benefit of food – garlic infused or otherwise – the wine is rather ‘green’. Alcohol 13.5%. Look for a mix of fruits verging on the under-ripe side of things – guava, apples, asparagus and so on. Expect a little tartrate crystal deposit too. It’s on the finish where the greenness manifests with a burst of lime tartnes to help it along.
[ out of 5] Scribblings Rating – 88/100
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