This year's Decanter World Wine Awards International Trophy for the Best in Show Sauvignon Blanc under £15 went to Paul Cluver, Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Elgin, South Africa 2013 (13.4%)

Tasted against:

  • Michel Thomas & Fils, Sancerre, Loire, France 2013
  • Pullus, Dry Sauvignon, Podravje, Slovenia 2013
  • Yealands, Peter Yealands Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand 2013


A keenly contested final round featuring a brace of Sancerres alongside a cracker from Slovenia. Trumping them all was this beauty from South Africa, lauded for its purity, focus, harmony and concentration. It was its layered aromas and flavours which secured it the ultimate prize, with one judge commenting that it was ‘the most complex of all four finalists’.

Paul Cluver’s family has owned this estate since 1896. It was the first not only to plant vines in Elgin (almost a century later), but also to establish the first commercial winery.

Today the land is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the Cluvers have established two local schools and invested substantially in other community projects. ‘We aim to produce wines that are elegant and balanced,’ says Paul Cluver Jr. ‘We are passionate about our people and environment, and by managing this interaction we hope to produce grapes that show the uniqueness of our valley.’

Elgin is considered to be the coolest of all South Africa’s winemaking regions – something that certainly brings its difficulties but a factor that also, according to winemaker Andries Burger, is countered by its benefits. ‘There is always a challenge to produce perfect fruit as Elgin has a unique cool climate due to its elevation and proximity to the coast. During the final phases of ripening we have cool, moist air coming in from the ocean. This leads to cloud cover that reduces sunlight hours, prolonging the ripening period but also increasing the disease pressure; vintages also differ, so one has to adapt to the season.

‘The vineyards are grown on Bokkeveld shale with underlying clay. These soils are quite marginal, thus we do not get excessive growth and have more balanced vineyards giving us concentrated fruit. The 2013 growing season was one of the coolest we’ve had, with slow ripening but great fruit.’

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Written by Decanter