January 30, 2011

Seven Springs Sauvignon Blanc

By In Wine Notes

seven springs sauvingon blanc 2010

I’ve received two bottles. Plus a stream of links to glowing reports on various blogs and websites. If Seven Springs in the UK have got one thing right it is their immersion into the social-networks. Not that I play on facebook but I assume the twitter activity is replicated there too.

Their first Sauvignon Blanc release, the Seven Springs Sauvignon Blanc 2010, [Adegga / Snooth] arrived in the UK in mid-November but was only released from customs/dealt with by the London City bond last week. A couple of early birds managed to pick up the first bottles from Warwick wine merchant Underwoods last week. My samples have been resting on the sample shelf for most of this week… I opened one just a couple of hours ago.

Very pale in colour, crisp and limey on the nose with a fresh and crisp palate. Light, appley and grassy with a nice bitter lettuce twist on the finish. Fresh and lively, enhanced by a little spritz. Length is a little short. Alcohol 13.5%.

A typical wine tasting note for a South African Sauvignon Blanc. What is more interesting, and what really brings wine alive though, is the background…


Passionate about wine, I had long dreamt about owning my own vineyard, this is story of my dream becoming a reality.
For a number of years our family holidays had been taken in Europe and South Africa where my enthusiasm for great wine and knowledge of complexities of production grew. In 1993 I had the opportunity to visit the London International Wine & Spirits Fair and I was truly hooked.

In 1994 I worked for six months in South Africa and although back in the UK was lucky enough to make contact with two of South Africa’s leading winemakers, Beyers Truter from Beyerskloof in Stellenbosch and Danie de Wet from De Wetshof Estate in Robertson.
In 2005, during a return visit to South Africa to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, my wife, Vaughan, and I explored the possibility of buying a small wine farm or some land which could be brought into production as vineyard.

During the trip we looked at land near Stellenbosch with a local agent but due to the cost of the land felt my dream would stay just that, a dream. However during our visit we travelled through much of the Cape winelands and drove on to Hermanus where we visited Hamilton Russell Vineyards and Bouchard Finlayson in the picturesque Hemel en Aarde (Heaven on Earth) Valley. It was at this point that Vaughan said “if we are going to buy anywhere, this area would be the perfect place”. The challenge was now to find suitable land in this truly beautiful valley, where top class wines were being produced, but land would be extremely hard to come by.

Returning to the UK and my job as Managing Director of my cleaning company, Goldcrest Cleaning Ltd, I set about using the internet to search for any suitable land in the area. To my absolute amazement, in December 2005, I discovered some land for sale 10 minutes drive down the valley from the Sumaridge Winery. After contacting the sellers, father and son farmers, Brian and James Davison, and receiving several reports on the suitability of the soil for wine grape production, Vaughan and I decided to travel back to the Cape in January 2006.
During the visit we made the decision to buy a portion of the land available (called Vrede which in Afrikaans means Peace) and purchased 12 hectares of north and south facing land, suitable for the production of red and white grape varieties. Much viticultural advice was sought regarding the choice of planting and eventually we settled on Pinot Noir and Syrah for the red varieties and Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc for the whites.

July 2007 saw our first 2 hectares of Syrah planted on north facing slopes and 1.87 hectares of Chardonnay on the south facing slopes. Later in that year 1.9 hectares of mature Blue Gum (Eucalyptus) trees on the edge of the land were grubbed up to make way for planting Sauvignon Blanc grapes, although time is required for the soil to recover and improved for optimum vine growing.

During July and early August of 2008 we planted 3.41 hectares of Pinot Noir on north facing slopes (the reason for not planting Pinot Noir in 2007 was that KWV, our rootstock supplier, did not have suitable clones of the variety in stock. These had to be ordered and then grafted onto the correct rootstock for planting in 2008). The very best virus free rootstock has been used in all plantings.

2008 also saw the planting of 200 Frantoio olive trees, from the Morgenster olive farm, around the perimeter of the vineyard area to allow future production of a single variety olive oil.

2009 saw the planted vines mature with a view to a test harvest in 2010. The final parcel of land will be planted with Sauvignon Blanc in 2010 and our first true harvest will be in February and March of 2011 with launch into the market likely later that year. Over time our vineyard will produce in the region of 50-60,000 bottles and bringing it to market will no doubt be our biggest challenge. It was in the latter part of this year that we established our branding with Marcel de Quervain. Marcel was responsible for creating the branding for the iconic Innocent range of products in the UK.

January of 2010 saw the appointment of Riana van der Merwe as our winemaker. 25 year old Riana comes highly recommended to us by our friend Guillaume Nell, winemaker at Backsberg. Our first harvest started on Thursday the 11th of February with the picking of our Chardonnay grapes, the quality looks excellent. Our Sauvignon Blanc (from grapes grown by Peter, our vineyard manager, on his family vineyard next to ours, will be picked in the last week of February and our Syrah 2 weeks later. We will produce approximately 9,000 bottles from our first harvest as we are limiting grape quantity and concentrating on quality fruit. This will also allow our young vines to develop fully. Riana will make Seven Springs first vintage at the award winning Iona Vineyards in Elgin. Our website (www.7springs.co.za) was launched on the 16th February 2010 as was the Seven Springs Vineyard Facebook site and the 7SpringsWine Twitter.

Our first grapes, Sauvignon Blanc, were hand picked on the 22nd of February 2010 followed by the Chardonnay a week later and our Syrah in early March. All of our vines were harvested at optimum fruit ripeness and the grapes were then fermented in stainless steel tanks. Our Sauvignon Blanc remained in the tank whilst our Chardonnay and Syrah were transferred to French oak barrels. We have used second and third fill barriques to gently ‘marry’ with our wine, allowing our fruit to express itself with the oak providing a supporting role. The style we are looking for with our Chardonnay and Syrah is ultimately one of delicate balance between fruit and oak.

Sauvignon Blanc has now been planted in a 1 hectare site on the highest, and coolest, point of our south facing slopes. The vines were planted in June 2010 below the watchful eye and slopes of Shaws Mountain

Our Sauvignon Blanc from the 2010 vintage was bottled on the 6th of August (4,400 bottles) and then labelled on the 11th of October. The wine will be sold in South Africa and the UK and will be in the UK during the latter half of November. South African sales will commence 25th of October. Our Chardonnay and Syrah are snug in their French oak barrels with the Chardonnay being bottled early 2011 and the Syrah later in the year.

Our winemaker Riana is spending the 2010 harvest (September to the end of November) in Oregon, USA, at Adelsheim Vineyard. This will give Riana great exposure to some of the best Pinot Noirs produced in the USA, helping her to understand the complexities of this variety. Our first small production of Pinot Noir could now be as early as 2011 as our young vines seem to be of an excellent quality.

Tim Pearson

Anticipatng that Pinot Noir? I know I am. Meanwhile I’m currently enjoying a couple of glasses of the Sauvignon while nibbling on a few toasted Goats Cheese and Walnut toasts and thinking that the second bottle might just be reserved for a little baked trout…

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  1. Tim February 1, 2011

    One thing I may not have said about the wine is that the grapes were from 3rd leaf vines, so very young vines. We limited production because we want to make sure that the vines establish properly. I have spoken this morning to our winemaker, Riana, and she says that this years Sauvignon grapes will be harvested either this Friday, or early next week. I feel as the vines develop you should see ‘more length’ in the finish. We have to benchmark ourselves against many excellent Sauvignon Blancs from around the globe (especially here in the UK market). Thank you very much again for posting this review


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