06 December 2010 by Robyn Campbell

Cabernet Sauvignon blanc: red-white and new

In keeping with their slogan ‘Ordinary is everywhere but here’ Stellenbosch wine estate Asara recently released South Africa’s first Cabernet Sauvignon blanc.

Asara’s winemaker Francois Joubert says a desire to create something new, and to ‘ruffle the feathers of a too conservative wine industry’, inspired the one-of-a-kind wine.

Blanc de Noir, or white wine made from red varietals, is not new. Joubert’s wine is unusual in that the characteristic ‘noir’ blush is absent. Instead, the wine is pale and faintly straw-coloured. ‘Early removal of the skins from the juice during the wine making process prevents any significant colour extraction’, explains Joubert.

Joubert purposely chose a southeast-facing cooler gradient to allow the grapes a longer ripening period. The result is a food-friendly wine, with a floral bouquet, and limey, peachy, gooseberry aromas on the nose.

Gentler on the palate than a Sauvignon Blanc, the wine is crisp, with well-integrated acidity, and a lingering finish - perfect for enjoying chilled on a summers day, or with seafood, mild cheeses and creamy pastas.

Handled like a white wine, the best time to drink the Cab Sav blanc would be within its first 2 years of production.

Aimed at wine enthusiasts eager to try something new, at R60.00 a bottle the white cab is, I think, pricey compared to other food-friendly whites like Allee Bleue’s Chenin Blanc 2010, or the Arniston Bay Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2010 (both retail for around 55% of the price of the white Cab).

Joubert will no doubt advise me to compare apples, I mean, grapes with grapes.

Until that’s possible, you’ll have to visit Asara’s estate in Stellenbosch to taste their pale-skinned maverick, or buy it from them online.

What do you think? Is Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc a new style of white wine with potential or a short-lived novelty? Or, have you, like me, drawn a blanc…

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