Duncan Savage is one of South Africa’s pre-eminent crafters of elegant white wines, especially the Sauvignon Blanc based wines of Cape Point Vineyards. We had the opportunity to visit him last month and taste through the portfolios of both Cape Point and his own Savage Wine label, which includes some outstanding red blends. We previously visited Duncan at Cape Point when doing the field work for our Report #30 The Wines of South Africa. Our reviews are given below.
Duncan graduated from the Eisenburg Agricultural College, one of the distinguished members of the storied 2002 graduating class that we wrote about earlier. After graduation, he worked with Didier Dageneau in the Loire and with Rosa Kruger in the Western Cape before being hired as winemaker at Cape Point in 2004. In 2007 he was elected to the prestigious Cape Winemakers Guild. In 2011 he created his own brand, Savage.
Broadbent Selections is the US importer for Cape Point and Savage.
Located on the side of Chapman’s Peak overlooking the beach at Noerdhoek, Cape Point’s 33 hectares of vines are subject to strong winds that stress the vines. This is unique, South African terroir, and one can only hope that owner Sybrand van der Spuy resists the temptation to convert vines to much more lucrative seaside vacation homes.
Cape Point Vineyards 2015 Sauvignon Blanc Cape Peninsula ($22) 91 The stainless steel fermented regular bottling of Cape Point Sauvignon Blanc is a delicious, pure fruit forward wine that reveals grapefruit citrus and a hint of freshly mown grass. The palate is round with good depth. Made from grapes grown on the sandy soils of the lower vineyard parcel.
Cape Point Vineyards 2014 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve Cape Peninsula ($40) 92 More tightly structured than the regular Sauvignon Blanc, the Reserve is intensely mineral like with underlying fruit and a chalky finish. It’s a tad austere in its youth but should evolve nicely based on past experience with this wine. Sourced from vines grown at higher altitiude on heavier granitic soils and exposed to severe winds. Spends 14 months in 600L barrels.
Cape Point Vineyards 2014 Semillon Cape Peninsula 91 Showing almond and olive oil on the nose, this is a gorgeous Semillon. It’s big in the mouth with a creamy texture and notes of citrus and herbs. From vines grown on sandy soils. Spend a year in 500L barrels. Not exported.
Cape Point Vineyards 2014 Isliedh Cape Peninsula ($65) 93 This is a young wine that needs time to fully integrate and show its best. At present, it reveals spicy oak on the nose and subdued citrus fruit on a broad, full palate. It’s a structured wine with good phenolic grip that should show superbly with a couple years in bottle. A blend of 68% barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc and 32% Semillon matured in 50% new 600L oak barrels.
Cape Point 2014 Chardonnay ($40) 91 Medium yellow straw. Showing a honeyed, toasty nose and a full palate that is creamy in texture while retaining brisk acidity. The oak is well integrated with ripe lemon citrus fruit. Goes through partial malo.
Duncan create his own eponymous label in 2011 and immediately won critical acclaim. He sources fruit from diverse vineyard sites around the Western Cape, excepting the Syrah which comes from a small plot in the Noorhoek Valley.
Savage 2014 Proprietary White Western Cape ($45) 92 Fine scents of flowers and spice give way to a creamy, soft attack and a full, broad palate with excellent acidity and a bright, uplifting finish. Both citrus and gooseberry flavors appear on a nicely integrated and balanced palate. A blend of 72% barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc and 28% Semillon from the Villiersdorp region aged 11 months in 20% new oak. Importer: Broadbent Selections.
Savage 2014 Follow the Line Western Cape ($45) 93 Revealing a very fresh, red-fruited nose, this medium red Cinsault-Grenache-Syrah blend gives rose petals, red raspberry and cherry fruit flavors. Mostly whole cluster and fermented cool in open top fermenters, this wine exudes freshness and purity on a silky smooth palate. A blend of 58% Cinsaut, 21% Grenache, and 21% Syrah mostly from the Darling WO. This is the maiden release of Follow the Line, and it’s an elegant one.
Savage 2013 Proprietary Red Blend Western Cape ($45) 93 Syrah takes the lead in this blend, showing black and red berries and aromas. It’s intensely flavored of fruit and spice with striking freshness and purity. The wine is nicely balanced and soft on the palate. A blend of 67% Syrah, 12% Grenache, 12% Cinsaut, and 9% Touriga Nacional sourced from throughout the Western Cape.
Savage 2014 The Girl Next Door Syrah Cape Peninsula ($45) 91 Made from a small 0.4 ha, unirrigated plot in Fishhoek, this is a youthful wine revealing red plum and berries with spice and savory meat notes. Finishes with a fine pure mineral-like streak. Made from young (9 years old) vines originally planted as the ornamental feature of a real estate development. Again, a unique site exposed to maritime weather.