Sophie te’Blanche Sauvignon Blanc is an easy going fresh, dry white wine with subtle tropical fruits, gooseberry and lime aromas. It has refreshing and smooth flavours of green apples and a good texture with a hint of minerality, from its three months on its lees. This is a bargain offer of a Sauvignon Blanc made by the Iona wine making team headed by Werner Muller. Sophie te’Blanche is the nickname given by the local workers, who can’t pronounce Sauvignon Blanc; the grapes are grown by growers in Elgin and the Cape South Coast, so hence Sophie te’Blanche Sauvignon Blanc comes under the name of Western Cape.
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 Iona 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 wines continue to go from strength to strength. Although not certified as organic, Andrew grows the grapes using organic and biodynamic principles, If you enjoy this Sauvignon Blanc, you must try the superior Iona Sauvignon Blanc which is truly stunning.
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Food Match: Asparagus, Fish dishes, Thai cuisine
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.
With the help of his uncle, Professor Ronnie Savigear, a well know geomorphologist (the study of landforms), Andrew was able to establish that the farm was unique in the South African context, with a climate somewhere between Bordeaux and Sancerre in France but with the advantage of a lower summer rainfall, a warmer Spring and Autumn and with the post glacial alluvial soils, making it perfect for the production of high quality wines. With the focus initially on Sauvignon Blanc, with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, the first vineyards were planted in 1998, followed by Chardonnay, Semillon and Pinot Noir.
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.