As I wrote a few weeks ago, there’s a first time for everything.
But this was like nothing I’d ever experienced before.
And certainly nothing I’d expected would happen.
I was sipping away on my favourite white these days — the lovely Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay — before supper, for which my husband and I were having pickerel with lemon. I only had a glass and a bit left, and decided, ‘Hey! I think it’s time to try the Reyneke!’
I could’ve opened another bottle of the Kim, which I know goes beautifully with just about anything, including fish, but decided to change it up this time around. While I’m not a big sauv blanc fan, I do like them, as long as they’re not too bitterly citrusy, to accompany anything that uses citrus as an accent. So this seemed the perfect opportunity to try a new-to-me sauv blanc that I hoped would pair nicely with the fish and lemon.
As it turns out, my husband was finished his chard before I was done mine, so I went downstairs to get the 2013 Reyneke Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa from the wine fridge. I opened it and poured him a part glass, just enough to sip before we had supper (he’s not usually a sauv blanc fan either). But to be fair, knowing if it was good, I was going to write about it, I cleansed my palate as much as was possible with a tiny chunk of French bread, and sniffed his glass.
I was taken aback.
‘That’s INTERESTING!’ I said out loud, still amazed by what I’d smelled.
We don’t mind sharing food and drink, but this time, I didn’t ask. I just gave it another sniff — same reaction — and took a sip from what had started out as his glass.
I looked in amazement at the label, checking to make sure that I hadn’t read something wrong, that this really was a sauvignon blanc.
And I loved it!
Smooth and delicate with flavours of what I thought was maybe gooseberry and kiwi. I took another sip. Fabulous!
And then the truly astonishing thing happened.
I glanced back at my glass of Kim Crawford Unoaked Chard. (And let me be very clear here — I still love and drink that wine.) ‘Hmmm,’ I thought. ‘I wonder ....’
Truly, I couldn’t bring myself to put into words what I was thinking, because it seemed like — well, not sacrilege, but something that very much went against the grain of what I believed about myself and my tastes. But because the Reyneke was so good, I had to do it. (And this was not a blind taste test — I knew which wine I was drinking.) I picked up what remained of my Kim Crawford Unoaked Chard and gave it a sniff and a sip. Still the same lovely beverage I’ve adored since the first time I tried it.
Then I turned back to the Reyneke.
I liked it better!!
It could have been just something odd that night, or just the way my palate was primed by the chard. But I don’t think so. And here’s what I did next. I’m not proud of it, but it’s the truth.
I gave my husband what was left of my glass of chardonnay. And I kept the Reyneke for myself!
Of course I shared the bottle with him later, once his glass of chard (MY former glass of chard) was done. And like me, he was REALLY impressed with the Reyneke, too.
But never in my life, given a choice between chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, have I EVER picked the latter. So this was definitely a night to remember.
And the Reyneke was certainly a wine to remember. In addition to the gooseberry and kiwi, there was just the faintest — faintest — hint of earthiness. And the wine was a little — dusty. That’s the only word I can come up with, and I’m not even sure how to explain what I mean by it. ‘Dusty’ is just what came to mind.
The finish — the really loooong finish — boasted a hint of lemon and slightly toasted vanilla. I can honestly say I’ve never had a wine like this one before. Perhaps I liked it because it wasn’t what I expected from a sauv blanc — that is, it was light on the citrus, yet fruity, beautifully balanced, and consequently harmonious. Anyway, it knocked my socks off. (Well, OK — I don’t WEAR socks, but if I did, they’d have been flying.)
Even with a price tag of $23.43, I’ll be buying this wine again. And again. So I urge you to give it a try. It was gorgeous on its own, sumptuous with pickerel and lemon, and I loved it. If any sauv blanc fans — or chardonnay fans, for that matter — give it a try, please drop me a line and let me know what you think.