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Iona Sauvignon Blanc, Elgin 2020

White Wine from South Africa
This South African sauvignon is beautifully balanced and refined, linear, poised and pebble-fresh, with only hints of orange citrus and grapefruit complementing green-apple and pear fruits.
Price: £11.50 Bottle
Price: £69.00 Case of 6
In Stock
Code: SA16891

Wine characteristics

  • White Wine
  • Dry
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • 13% Alcohol
  • No oak influence
  • Now to 2022
  • 75cl
  • Screwcap

South Africa

South Africa is undoubtedly one of the world's most dynamic wine producers. Established winemakers re-emerged onto the international scene in the early 1990s, following the demise of the apartheid era, and new wines, wineries, highly qualified winemakers, and even new regions have appeared steadily ever since. This makes South Africa more exciting than ever, but more complicated, too.

Most South African wines are varietally labelled - a key factor in any buying decision. Styles vary of course, and our notes aim to clarify this, but you will probably already know whether you like sauvignon blanc (now among the world's best), chardonnay, riesling, syrah, pinot noir, or cabernet.

South Africa's most famous grapes - white chenin blanc and red pinotage - will be less familiar unless you are already a convert. South African chenins are quite different from those in the Loire - almost always dry, but ripe and full of flavour (often with the complexity that comes from the increasingly...
South Africa is undoubtedly one of the world's most dynamic wine producers. Established winemakers re-emerged onto the international scene in the early 1990s, following the demise of the apartheid era, and new wines, wineries, highly qualified winemakers, and even new regions have appeared steadily ever since. This makes South Africa more exciting than ever, but more complicated, too.

Most South African wines are varietally labelled - a key factor in any buying decision. Styles vary of course, and our notes aim to clarify this, but you will probably already know whether you like sauvignon blanc (now among the world's best), chardonnay, riesling, syrah, pinot noir, or cabernet.

South Africa's most famous grapes - white chenin blanc and red pinotage - will be less familiar unless you are already a convert. South African chenins are quite different from those in the Loire - almost always dry, but ripe and full of flavour (often with the complexity that comes from the increasingly sought-after old-vine fruit and the use of oak). Pinotage, a South African creation, is for many a love-it-or-hate-it grape. Pinotage's 'parents' are pinot noir, which imparts its strawberry aromas and lovely texture in young wines, and more complex, farmyard characteristics in more mature examples, and cinsault, the southern French grape, which adds spice and body. It was developed in South Africa in 1926. Shiraz is now making a name for itself in South Africa with some superb examples bottled varietally and showing characteristics that often places it between the plush New World style pioneered by Australia and classic Rhône balance and elegance.

More significant in South Africa than much of the New World (notably New Zealand and Chile) are blends, which make selection more complicated, as the style of the wine is less easy to anticipate. As in Australia and California, however, many of the best wines here are blends - a sign of maturity in the industry. Bordeaux blends were favoured initially but there are increasing numbers of Rhône and southern French influenced blends, including some eclectic mixes, many of which are among South Africa’s best wines.

The Regions

The vineyards of South Africa are at a latitude of about 35o south, with hot, dry Mediterranean-type summers tempered by oceanic influences in the south, particularly the very cold Benguela Current. Much of the country is mountainous or hilly with a multitude of terroirs for winemakers to play with. Soils are ancient and complex, and many and varied from region to region, and even vineyard to vineyard. Rainfall is very varied from one area to another, largely depending which side of a mountain or range a vineyard lies on, and in some parts irrigation is essential.

South Africa’s rigorous Wine Of Origin scheme demarcates vineyard areas, including some single vineyards, and guarantees the geographical source of the wine much like the old French appellation contrôllée system recently renamed AOP, though there are no controls on yields and grape varieties as there are in France..

Bordeaux-style blends are one of the Stellenbosch region's great strengths. Wines such as Kanonkop's Paul Sauer, Meerlust's Rubicon and Warwick's Trilogy are South African icons, produced over many years, and with proven ageing capacity. The striking Simonsberg mountain names the ward (or area) most highly sought after for these reds, but Stellenbosch produces a wide range of wine styles, from excellent chenin blancs and sauvignons to robust pinotage and Cape Blends.

Paarl is its less-well-known neighbour, also warm, and best known for its robust but smooth reds. Franschhoek is understandably one of the most-visited towns in the Cape (with lots of French Huguenot history and some of the best restaurants in the region). It has a number of famous producers, most notably Boekenhoutskloof, but most do not produce exclusively from Franschhoek fruit. Cape Chamonix is an exception we rate highly, producing a wide range of wine styles from bubbly to cabernet franc led red blend Troika.

The generally warmer Swartland region has been at the forefront of the development of Rhône varietals in South Africa, led by stars such as Eben Sadie, as well as home to some of the best old chenin blanc vines. Further north, and much cooler is Citrusdal, where fresher styles are produced and chenin blanc can achieve real finesse.

The Cape peninsula, to the south of Cape Town itself, is home to Constantia, known for its cooler climate thanks to the influence of the two oceans that almost circle it. Here, sauvignon blanc and the Bordeaux grapes predominate, but there are lovely examples of aromatic varieties too, notably Klein Constantia's elegant riesling and its wonderful sweet muscat Vin de Constance, and the vibrant sauvignon blancs from Cape Point vineyards to the south. Rhône varietals are successful new additions.

Elgin, en route to Hermanus, is another very cool region, very much up-and-coming for sauvignon blanc, as is Elim, which is even further south and the source of our former Exhibition Sauvignon. Robertson is almost due north of Elim, but way inland and far hotter. A small number of family producers manage to make excellent sauvignon here, too, but it is also a good source of chardonnay, increasingly pinot noir, and elegantly styled pinotage and Rhône varietals, not forgetting the excellent fortified muskadels which are unique to the Cape.

The most important factor in deciding whether or not to buy is often the producer's name. This is easily achieved when some of the grandest 'old' names, such as Meerlust, Hamilton Russell, Kanonkop, and Klein Constantia, still rank among the country's best producers. Where it gets trickier is when the winery is new, has no track record, or the winemaker is not a household name.
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Iona Wine Farm

Andrew Gunn is an engineer by training and in 1997 he was looking for a change; something that would fulfil him. He decided that, as an outdoorsman, he should look at farming and he spent a long time searching for the right place to put down roots in more senses than one. He found it at a former apple farm near Elgin, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, fell for the place immediately and bought it. The unprofitable apple business gave way to vines and a unique vineyard was created, renamed Iona in honour of his ancestral home off the coast of Scotland.

Surrounded by forests and the Kogelberg Biosphere and situated at 420 metres above sea level, the mesoclimate of the site makes it one of the coolest, if not the coolest, vineyard plots in South Africa, with a summer climate lying somewhere between Sancerre and Bordeaux but with the priceless asset of considerably less rain than either during the summer, and warmer spring and autumn temperatures. These factors were further enhanced by the presence of post-glacial alluvial soils offering excellent drainage and promising the vines a struggle for nutrients.

With the air-conditioning unit of the Atlantic just 4km away the vines enjoy cooling breezes which lengthen their hang time on the vine, developing complexity and balance in the fruit while retaining freshness. Thanks to where the grapes grow they are picked about two months later than anywhere else in the country.

Sauvignon blanc was the first variety planted alongside some...
Andrew Gunn is an engineer by training and in 1997 he was looking for a change; something that would fulfil him. He decided that, as an outdoorsman, he should look at farming and he spent a long time searching for the right place to put down roots in more senses than one. He found it at a former apple farm near Elgin, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, fell for the place immediately and bought it. The unprofitable apple business gave way to vines and a unique vineyard was created, renamed Iona in honour of his ancestral home off the coast of Scotland.

Surrounded by forests and the Kogelberg Biosphere and situated at 420 metres above sea level, the mesoclimate of the site makes it one of the coolest, if not the coolest, vineyard plots in South Africa, with a summer climate lying somewhere between Sancerre and Bordeaux but with the priceless asset of considerably less rain than either during the summer, and warmer spring and autumn temperatures. These factors were further enhanced by the presence of post-glacial alluvial soils offering excellent drainage and promising the vines a struggle for nutrients.

With the air-conditioning unit of the Atlantic just 4km away the vines enjoy cooling breezes which lengthen their hang time on the vine, developing complexity and balance in the fruit while retaining freshness. Thanks to where the grapes grow they are picked about two months later than anywhere else in the country.

Sauvignon blanc was the first variety planted alongside some cabernet sauvignon and merlot, all three classic Bordeaux varieties, in 1998. Since then chardonnay, semillon, shiraz, petit verdot, mourvèdre, viognier and pinot noir have joined the roll call of grapes available to winemaker Werner Muller, either for the Iona varietal labels or the estate blends.

With a location that provides so many of the prerequisites for fine wine production it will come as no surprise to learn that the estate is farmed as sustainably as possible, with biodynamic practices employed to ensure the healthiest, most vital soils possible. This commitment goes hand in hand with the terroir to deliver great freshness, purity and complexity in the wines.
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South Africa Vintage 2020

With such an inauspicious start to an unforgettable year, few even dreamed of such a good 2020 harvest. It was clear that volumes would be down – which can be good for quality, of course – but the weather brought a few early challenges in the vineyards and the grapes’ normally orderly progression to ripeness turned into quite a scramble. But nature has an astonishing way of managing even multiple challenges, smoothing out extremes to allow mother (vine) to give her very best to her offspring (the grapes). The 2020 harvest was a gift to bring smiles to a troubled industry.
2020 vintage reviews
2019 vintage reviews
2017 vintage reviews

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