This year's winner of the Decanter World Wine Awards International Trophy for the Best in Show Sauvignon Blanc Over £15 went to David Nieuwoudt, Ghost Corner Sauvignon Blanc, Elim 2012, South Africa.
David Nieuwoudt, Ghost Corner Sauvignon Blanc, Elim, South Africa 2012 (13.5%)
Delicate aromas of nettle, pea and artichoke. The complex, layered, juicy palate shows saline notes over citrus fruit with grass and minerals. Silky texture. UK £17; HBa
Tasted against • Villa Maria, Taylors Pass Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand 2012 • Calyptra, Sauvignon Blanc Gran Reserva, Cachapoal Valley, Chile 2010
With no Regional Trophies in contention, the more historic Sauvignon Blanc vineyards of the Old World were denied even a look-in for this International Trophy. Instead the final taste-off focused on three New World countries, each cementing its credentials as a world-class producer of Sauvignon. The evocatively named Ghost Corner was a worthy winner.
David Nieuwoudt is the fifth generation of his family, but it is certainly due to his efforts that this spectacular estate in the Cederberg Wilderness Area has come into its own. One might suspect Nieuwoudt of being a masochist in his choice of site – first on his own farm at altitudes of up to 1,000 metres with a strong focus on Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Shiraz, and in his other vineyards at the southernmost tip of South Africa at Elim.
There are many challenges to wine-growing in this latter area, not least the fierce winds. There is often wind damage in the vineyards and recent plantings have been designed to ensure that the wind sweeps along the vines and not at right angles to the plants. Elim is not for the faint hearted.
Ghost Corner is a bracingly austere landscape with very cool mornings and evenings – characteristics that influence the wines. The 2012 is almost zen-like: very pure, linear and full of steely excitement with hints of kiwi, but with a refreshing mineral quality. This area, one of the youngest in South Africa, has already demonstrated that it can produce Sauvignon Blancs for early drinking, but the wines can also age and evolve. And as most of the vines here are young, the best is yet to come.
Lynne Sherriff MW
Written by Decanter