I recently attended the exclusive and very special launch of the Boschendal Suzanne 2019, a white Bordeaux-style blend of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc. The name of the wine pays tribute to Suzanne de Lanoy, the wife of Boschendal’s French Huguenot founder Nicolas de Lanoy who landed at the Cape in 1685 after fleeing religious persecution in his motherland. Adding this new white wine to the Boschedndal’s stable affirms the winery’s commitment to site-specific winemaking as well as honouring the early pioneers of the South African wine industry who founded Boschendal in 1685. The event was held at Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen’s Innovation Studio in Kloof Street and both the wine and the food were delicious.
The first vintage of Boschendal Suzanne is from the 2019 vintage and has a core of Sémillon which comprises 54% of the wine, with the balance made from Sauvignon Blanc. Both varieties were sourced from selected parcels in the high-lying regions of Elgin, the Cape’s pre-eminent cool-climate wine region.
Jan created a memorable menu solidly infused with South African flavours to pair with the Suzanne and a few other Boschendal wines. Kapokbos braai marshmallows, a duck liver parfait flower, and braai broodjie macaron were three whimsical amuse snacks to start the evening with the Boschendal Jean Le Long Prestige Cuvee 2009, one of my favourite South African Cap Classiques.
Jan’s signature mossbolletjie bread served with biltong butter and Rooibos trout gravlax, avocado mousse, fennel and apple paired with the Suzanne perfectly. Along with the next course of The Whole Chicken with truffle mousseline, mushrooms, celeriac and roast chicken velouté.
Roast bone marrow with kudu, charcuterie sauce and braai pomme puree was the meat course served with the Boschendal Black Angus 2017.
The cheese course takes guests to an awe-inspiring display of cheese & various accompaniments in Jan’s Cheese Room at the studio. Boschendla Vin D’Or Noble Late Harvest was served here.
Dessert was a delectable Passionfruit meringue enjoyed alongside Boschendal Luxe Nectar NV MCC.
I loved the lightly oaked Suzanne which is very accessible now but has enough complexity to mature for another 5-10 years in the bottle. This elegant wine would pair well with shellfish, chicken and vegetable dishes.
More about the wine:
According to Danielle Coetzee, the winemaker responsible for white wines and Cap Classique at Boschendal, white Bordeaux-style blends is one of South Africa’s most revered and exciting wine categories. Thus, the Boschendal team had gone to extreme lengths over the past few years to realise its vision of crafting an elegant and refined blend of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc that forms one holistic whole of true excellence.
“With its cool, maritime climate and ancient soils of shale, decomposed granite and clay, Elgin showed to be the ideal region to deliver grapes expressing the visceral nuances of these two noble white varieties,” says Coetsee. “The slow-ripening of the fruit, a result of the lower Elgin temperatures, leads to high natural acidity and low pH in the grapes. These features are important in allowing expressive varietal characters in the wines, but also to ensure complexity as well as ageing potential, something classic white wine blends such as these should have.”
Hand-picked in the crisp coolness of the early Elgin mornings, the grapes were transported to Boschendal’s winery in Groot Drakenstein. Here, the first step was to do meticulous bunch-sorting to ensure the overall purity and health of the wine’s foundation.
The Sauvignon Blanc component was given brief skin contact before pressing to elevate the structural components of the variety. The Sauvignon Blanc was fermented in tank with a cultivar-specific yeast strain before going in older 500L oak barrels for approximately 6 months, while the Sémillon was allowed to begin spontaneous fermentation in tank before the wine was inoculated to complete the ferment, the latter stages occurring in 500-litre oak barrels, consisting of fourth, fifth and sixth fills.
The Semillon spent 11 months in barrel whilst the Sauvignon only spent 6 months on fine lees. Once each variety had reached the desired degree of complexity in mouth-feel, palate weight and fruit expression, the Boschendal team set about compiling the final blend.
“Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc are, on their own, two totally different wines with their own flavour-profiles and nuances,” says Coetsee. “Sauvignon Blanc is bright and mineral, while Sémillon has a sterner, waxy complexity. But bring them together, and they form a harmonious whole – as if the two varieties were made for one another”.
“We are enormously pleased with the result of this Suzanne Bordeaux-style blend which is the result of vineyard sites comprising of the ideal geographical factors for allowing the two varieties to express themselves. And by bringing them together after a relaxed and slow period of wood maturation Boschendal believes we have delivered a beautifully statuesque white wine of which Suzanne de Lanoy and all the pioneers of Boschendal will feel proud.”
More about Boschendal