I am always surprised when my friends on the wine trade tell me how difficult it is to sell a Sauvignon Blanc Semillon blend. Ii is hugely popular in Australia, where it is known by constantly abbreviating Aussies as SBS. These after all are the white grapes of Bordeaux, so from now, I shall refer to these wines as White Bordeauxes. And yes, I checked it in the dictionary, Bordeauxes. Born in a dry year which gave the grapes a fine acidity and an intensity of fruit the Richard Kershaw Wines Smuggler’s Boot Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2017 was made from grapes which were hand harvested by hand into small lug boxes.
Once in the cellar, the whole bunches of Sauvignon Blanc were delicately pressed using a Champagne pressing cycle [so clever]. The clean juice and a portion of the lees were racked off and taken for fermentation. The Semillon grapes were destalked and then crushed and then softly pressed, the juice being taken to a stainless-steel tank. Natural fermentation started and after 2 days the fermenting Semillon juice was racked into oak barrels, of which 2/3rds were new and the 1/3rd had only been used previously for 4 months. The lees were stirred using heavy dry ice blocks on the Sauvignon Blanc tanks and a batonnage rod for the Semillon. The wines were on the lees for four months. They were then blended and prepared for bottling.
I had the pleasure of tasting this wine with Richard Kershaw on a recent visit to Johaanesburg visit. From and appropriately Bordeaux shaped bottle, closed with a screw cap. The label has a boot on it with a vine coming out of it, a dig at the Cape winemakers who, the in the late 1970s smuggled in grape varieties like Chardonnay and others in boots, chocolate boxes, wallets. Much like the European settlers who took vines woven as baskets to Australia in the last century. In the glass, the wine is a delicate daffodil yellow with green flashes. Those of you lucky enough to have an elder bush in your garden will recognise the aroma of the flowers in the wine. Delicious citrus whiffs of sweet tropical limes and Clemengold soft skinned citrus. From entry, the palate has a single thread of delicious acidity running through it into the long aftertaste. The mid palate is creamy, the lime showing there again, with ripe sliced pear. Now why would people not want to drink as classy a version of a white Bordeaux as this? Just get out there and land a bottle.
This is an any time sipper, as a mid-morning refresher or at sun down. It is simply wonderful with any form of seafood. Richard Kershaw recommends a beer battered fish, so I offer my recipe for Beer Battered Fish, which I cooked on the Breakfast TV Show Expresso some time ago.
Michael’s Beer Battered Fish
What you’ll need
Sunflower, canola or peanut oil [do not use olive oil]
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp turmeric
400g plain flour – keep it in the fridge
Sea salt and freshly milled black pepper
550ml cold lager
4 portions of fresh SASSI friendly fish like Hake or farmed Kob
sprigs of curly parsley
whole bay leaves
What you’ll do
In a deep, frying pan, heat the oil to 185C. In a cooled bowl, whisk the baking powder and turmeric into the flour with a good pinch of salt and a couple of grinds of pepper. Quickly whisk the beer into the flour just before you are ready to cook. Have the bowl of batter next to your pan and have plate lined with kitchen paper. Dip the portions of fish into the batter and fry one or two pieces at a time, do not do more otherwise the oil temperature will drop too much. Cook the fish for 4 – 6 minutes, until crisp and golden, depending on the thickness. Dip the parsley and basil leaves into the batter and fry them too as a garnish.
Serve immediately with lemon cheeks and tartare sauce.
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