The 2013 Faithful Hound White is a blend of 57% Semillon and 43% Sauvignon Blanc. It has a crisp almond and citrus lemon bouquet with touches of walnut coming through with aeration. The palate is well balanced with crisp acidity and a pretty lime cordial and peach-tinged finish. Fine.
Keep an eye on Mulderbosch because there are some very interesting developments going on at this address. While I do not think everything quite hit the bullseye, I was impressed by the move toward single-vineyard bottlings and so I had to ask winemaker Adam Mason to tell all.
"I seem to remember it was Charles' idea to release single-vineyard examples of compelling Chenin Blanc in order to showcase the South African potential of this variety to select journalists, sommeliers and buyers internationally. As I only joined Mulderbosch in 2012, I first wanted to get an idea of where the quality in our sourcing program lay, so started off by keeping all the individual vineyards separate until blending in an effort to track their evolution from vineyard to bottle-ready wine. The following vintage, 2013, I was in a much better position to commit to making several single-vineyard wines right from the start, based those vineyard's performance in 2012. There are the three currently in circulation, and it turns out they are three pretty special vineyards...
"Rustenhof Block W: the closest of the three to the ocean, roughly three miles from False bay: 32-year-old dry farmed bush vines of massal selection origin. The soils, derived from decomposed granite, are quite heavy and structured and due to the high clay concentration are well suited to dry land farming. Eikenhof Block A: situated seven miles from False Bay and on a southerly aspect, this is 31-year-old vines trained on a single wire sprawl. The soils are much lighter than those of Rustenhof, containing a far higher sandy fraction in the top soil. The clonal material is very interesting, in that it is regarded as the 'lost' Montpellier clone, which even the French are keen to get their hands on if I am to believe all that I hear. Sonop Block S2 is the furtherest away from False Bay at 14 miles. It is similar age, 31 years, bush vine of massal selection origin. The mother rock on which the vineyard grows is Malmesbury Shale, so some seriously old stuff, dating back to pre-Cambrian era 600-1000 MYA."
"Each wine was made in the identical way, using native yeast to start and then an inoculated yeast to finish the fermentation. All fermentations taking place in neutral barriques. Only 100 cases of each wine made. This vintage I pushed the boat out a little further, deciding to whole-bunch press each batch and then utilize the native vineyard yeast for the entire fermentation. As you can see the essence of this project is to capture the very distinctive character of each of these sites and in a way that allows each site to express itself without excessive intervention from the winemaking side."
Score: 88 points -- Wine Advocate, Oct 2014
Wine of Origin: Western Cape
Blend: 57% Semillon; 43% Sauvignon Blanc
Ageing: 15 months in 30% new French, 70% neutral oak Maturation: up to 10 years from date of vintage
One of the great marriages in wine must surely be that of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. At their best, wines made from these two grapes offer a thrilling example of texture and aromatics, structure and finesse. After coming across a vineyard of magnificent quality Semillon in Franschhoek, we decided to work on a blended white variant to the Faithful Hound, choosing Sauvignon Blanc from Elgin as the partner variety.
Both parcels of fruit were gently destemmed and crushed, then pressed to roughly 500L/ton in order to recover only the finest juice fraction for the blend. Great quality Semillon has an ability to handle new oak like few other varieties, so this component of the blend was fermented in 30% new French oak 500L barrels, the remaining 70% in neutral 500L barrels.
In order to retain as much of the aromatic intensity of the Sauvignon Blanc component, we opted to ferment all of it in neutral 500L barrels. Neither of the two components were allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation in an effort to preserve the natural acidity and freshness of each vineyard. After a period of 15 months in barrel, the wine was blended and prepared for bottling.