In December last year Origin Wine made a pledge.
Now, a year later, it’s paying off.
Origin Wine is synonymous with service and innovation. Its core focus has always been the wine retail environment, with funky packaging and off-beat ideas a key part of its offering. Fine wine has not really featured. Until now.
Origin Wine kept its word and in October The Pledge Sauvignon Blanc 2017 made its debut on the fine wine stage by winning gold at the Veritas Awards 2017 and being rated among the top 20 entries at the FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 competition.
“Regional diversity is South Africa’s strength when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc. Our mission from the outset of this project was to identify areas best suited for Sauvignon Blanc with the idea that the best parcels from various regions are likely to provide intriguing building blocks,” The Pledge winemaker Natalee Botha says. “South Africa has a pivotal role to play when it comes to the stylistic approach to Sauvignon Blanc as it can produce wines that showcase both New Zealand’s pungent style and the more subdued, classic, mineral style of Sancerre.”
With this in mind, Natalee crisscrossed the wine regions of the Western Cape to source small parcels of Sauvignon Blanc that express their true terroir. Her travels took her to Darling, Durbanville, Elgin, Elands Bay, St Helena Bay, Lutzville, Devon Valley near Stellenbosch, Stanford, Sunday’s Glen in the Walker Bay district and Witzenberg near Ceres.
“Stretching from as far afield as Lutzville and St Helena on the West Coast to Stanford on the Cape South Coast, the 10 parcels we homed in on were guaranteed to represent the variety of styles that South Africa prides itself on. And this was the whole idea behind The Pledge – to make the best possible Sauvignon Blanc from grapes that lend an inimitable character to the wine.”
The grapes from the 10 parcels arrived at Origin’s Grand Domaine cellar at different times throughout the 2017 harvest. Here they were hand-sorted and separately pressed before being transferred to individual tanks for fermentation. Each parcel was vinified to bring out the best of its terroir’s character. Natalee then set about crafting The Pledge Sauvignon Blanc, making sure the blend showcased the best of the best without any one area dominating.
A total of 31 000 litres were made. Natalee describes The Pledge, which sells for R100 a bottle locally, as a wine with many layers. “When you nose the wine, the characteristics of the various regions are noticeable. The wine has depth. It’s complex and tastes like no other Sauvignon.”
Why Sauvignon Blanc?
Sauvignon Blanc currently holds the single-variety pole position in terms of bottle exports from South Africa so undoubtedly presents an extraordinary commercial opportunity.
“We’ve noticed a growing global interest in Sauvignon Blanc,” Natalee says. “It’s ongoing and has a lot to do with this variety’s pungent character and fresh, zesty, crisp palate. We’ll be making The Pledge every year from now on but the grapes we source may come from different parcels and regions to this year’s.”
While The Pledge range was launched with a South African Sauvignon Blanc, Origin plans to expand its global wine production footprint by including the best parcels of other varietals from various regions in the world. The next offering is a Malbec produced by Origin’s Argentinean sister company, Mendoza Vineyards. Global blends may also be in the offing.
And this is exactly what The Pledge is all about: To make the best possible version of a wine, be it a South African Sauvignon Blanc or an Argentinian Malbec. It may even be a pledge by a winemaker to make the best possible wine they can. Themes may vary, but the promise must be kept.
And that’s what makes The Pledge so desirable.