It's white, fruit-driven, with soft acids, full aromas and a creamy mouthfeel – and it comes from the Cabernet Sauvignon vine.
Next week at the London International Wine and Spirits Fair the first-ever white Cabernet Sauvignon is launched – the accidental offspring of a normal Cabernet harvest.
The grape first appeared on a Cabernet vine in the 1980s, at a vineyard belonging to Cleggett Wines in Langhorne Creek , South Australia. During the harvest, owner Malcolm Cleggett noticed bronze or golden grapes amongst the normal deep red bunches.
He took spores and propagated the new grape. It produced a distinctively Cabernet-tasting but very light-red wine. Then some three years ago the new vines started producing pure white grapes, which Cleggett called ‘Shalistin’ and registered as a new international variety.
‘The wine is fruit driven with a slight acid edge and very full aromas,’ Claudia Pech of distributors Whosewine told decanter.com. ‘It has pronounced Cabernet Sauvignon characters and full berry fruit flavours.’
Decanter contributing editor Stephen Brook said it was not unheard-of for black grapes to mutate. Burgundy producer Henri Gouges found a mutation of Pinot Noir in Nuits-St-George, and planted it in ground more suited to white grapes.
‘The wine has an earthy, almost tannic quality – a very powerful flavour not remotely like Chardonnay,’ Brook said.
Decanter contributor Howard Goldberg said at the beginning of the craze for white Zinfandel, bottles were labelled Cabernet Blanc or White Cabernet.
‘White merlot began to surface two years ago, and very good versions of it are made,’ he added. It is made by Beringer in California and by highly-respected Languedoc producer Skalli in France.
Shalistin will retail at £8.99 in the UK.
Written by Adam Lechmere14 May 2002