Iona Sauvignon Blanc has an aromatic nose with fine mineral notes with gooseberry and grapefruit aromas. The palate is so well balanced and elegant, with classic Sauvignon Blanc flavours of grapefruit and light gooseberry fruit mingled with tropical fruit and a long, smooth finish. It is a beautifully textured Sauvignon, and the tiny addition of barrel-fermented Semillon just gives a smoothness whilst retaining its fresh appeal.
Andrew and Rosy Gunn’s vineyards are located in the Highlands of Elgin to the South East of Cape Town. They are situated on a mountain plateau at 420 metres surrounded by the Kogelburg Nature Reserve where the prevailing winds off the cold Atlantic ocean, account for the layered nuances of their Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes ripen slowly here, often some 2 months later than other Cape vineyards. Winemaker, Werner Muller is one of the most highly respected winemakers in South Africa and Iona wine range continues to go from strength to strength
Akin to the Pouilly Fume style of Sauvignon; this is an accomplished wine; year on year this wine consistently wins acclaim from wine writers and below are some of the quotes.
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“There is good reason that Iona Sauvignon Blanc enjoys a premium over many of its competitors: its consistent quality since 2001. Made with 11 clones from nine blocks and including 4% wooded Semillon, it’s complex, assertive, nettley and bone dry with thrilling palate length. Drink 2019 – 2022. 92 points. Tim Atkin MW: Special Report South Africa 2019
“Texture is the missing link in Sauvignon Blanc” says Werner Muller, who used 4% Semillon and some barrel fermentation in this justifiably successful expression of the grape. Grapefruity, tangy and herbal with crunchy acidity and good weight. Drink 2018 – 2021. 92 points. Tim Atkin MW: Special Report South Africa 2018
“Grapefruit, spice and a slightly hoppy note, long and graceful and with a soft-focus edges that make this easy to drink. The nose has superb, flinty chalky character – very much a Loire style. Excellent length.” 17 Points. Drink 2018 – 2022. Richard Hemming MW in Jancis Robinson MW, Purple Pages November 2018.
Iona Sauvignon Blanc 2017 captures that charm: the ripe gooseberry fruit which defines the variety is unmistakable, but it retains an all-important savoury sensibility on the palate, as well as a chalky, flinty character reminiscent of the Loire. There is a sort of soft-focus elegance to the structure that makes it compellingly drinkable for casual drinkers, and grace notes of spice and hops for anyone paying closer attention.”
…”This Sauvignon Blanc has a quality-to-price ratio that far outstrips most of its peers, be they from the Loire, Marlborough, Chile or anywhere else.” Richard Hemming MW in Jancis Robinson Purple Pages September 2018
There is an interesting story behind Iona which was established as a vineyard and winery in 1998/99; their first vintage was a Sauvignon Blanc 2001. In early 1997, Andrew Gunn, an engineer by training was contemplating his next career move. Having always loved the outdoors, the prospect of farming appealed to him and feeling young and energetic enough to start a new career, left the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg to begin the search for the ‘perfect’ farm.
After months of searching and 40 farm visits later, Andrew and a very tired estate agent stumbled upon a solitary run down apple farm on a mountain top overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The prospect of a suitable farm in Elgin intrigued Andrew and on driving through the valley, he became excited by the beauty of the area. Surrounded by the Kogelberg Biosphere and Forestry the property had no agricultural neighbours. The rolling hills and the drive up the mountain to where the farm was situated, 420 meters above sea level, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, was unlike anything he had ever seen. It was love at first sight.
Andrew decided to name the “farm” and winery as “Iona”, after the island off the West Coast of Scotland, where Andrew’s ancestors hail from; it has become one of South Africa’s top producers of Sauvignon Blanc, in particular.