L'Avenir Estate Sauvignon Blanc Stellenbosch 2008

Member Review by Rodolphe Boulanger:

peach. peaches,melon,a hint of herbs,boring finish. flabby

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L'Avenir Estate:
The L’Avenir Estate is located a stone’s throw north of the idyllic town of Stellenbosch, a couple of miles up Route 44 toward Paarl. The Stellenbosch Valley is the heart of the Cape wine lands, the region of origin populated by more highly esteemed wine estates than any other. From a viticultural standpoint, it includes seven wards: Banghoek, Bottelary, Devon Valley, Jonkershoek Valley, Pap... Read more
The L’Avenir Estate is located a stone’s throw north of the idyllic town of Stellenbosch, a couple of miles up Route 44 toward Paarl. The Stellenbosch Valley is the heart of the Cape wine lands, the region of origin populated by more highly esteemed wine estates than any other. From a viticultural standpoint, it includes seven wards: Banghoek, Bottelary, Devon Valley, Jonkershoek Valley, Papegaaiberg, Polkadraai Hills and Simonsberg-Stellenbosch. L’Avenir lies in the Simonsberg ward, the other half of which extends into Paarl. The valley is rimmed on the east and northeast by a series of ranges and peaks, from the eastern Hottentots-Hollands north to the Helderberg, the Stellenboschberg and finally the dramatic Simonsberg, which gives the ward its name and divides Stellenbosch from Paarl. As a center of wine production, only Constantia is older than Stellenbosch, the latter long the nexus of the South African wine trade. An early example of a planned community, Stellenbosch was founded in 1679 by Simon van der Stel, who in that year succeeded Jan Van Riebeeck as Commander of the Dutch East India Company settlement. Though wine had been produced for two decades in the Cape, van der Stel was the first figure of authority to have practical experience in viticulture and winemaking. An interval of seven years between Van Riebeeck’s departure and van der Stel’s arrival had further wrought disorganization on Cape agriculture which van der Stel set out to rectify. On an alternate route returning from an inspection tour in the Hottentots-Holland area, he came across a sublime green valley called ‘Wildebosch.’ From the town’s street grid to the surrounding farms, van der Stel planned a community intended specifically for the Free Burghers, Dutch colonist servants who had been freed under Van Riebeeck from service to the Company. From the estate he established at Groot Constantia, van der Stel introduced order and improvement to Cape agriculture in general and viticulture in particular. His name remains strewn among the place names of the area. The L’Avenir estate was founded by Marc Wiehe in 1992. A native of Mauritius, Wiehe left a career as a sugar trader in London and purchased the working property which at the time was growing fruit for the long established Nederburg estate in Paarl. With François Naudé as Winemaker, L’Avenir swiftly rose to icon status, domestically and abroad. The 1997 L’Avenir Chenin Blanc was ranked best in the country at that year’s Chenin Blanc Challenge. By 2004, no Pinotage had been named as frequently as L’Avenir among the top ten in the annual Top Ten Pinotage Competition, achieving inclusion with seven out of eight vintages. In September of 2005, Chablisien Michel Laroche acquired the L’Avenir Estate in partnership with insurance entity AXA as silent minority shareholder. Wiehe, then 67, doubtless sought to retire, affording Laroche a rare opportunity to secure an operating property in the Cape’s most sought after district. François Naudé also retired at the end of that year to consult. With the transfer of ownership, Tinus Els returned to his native South Africa to assume the position of CEO and Winemaker at L’Avenir. Born in 1970, Els was raised in Orkney, in the North West Province, and between 1991 and 1993 completed a diploma in viticulture and oenology at the Elsenberg Agricultural College in Stellenbosch. Between 1993 and 2000, he held positions at Nelson’s Creek in Paarl; Koelenhof in Stellenbosch; and Nordale in Robertson, with an interval for his first European harvest in Bordeaux in 1999. In 2000, Els left Nordale to take a flying winemaker position with IWS (International Wine Services) for three years, and then with HwCg, a highly innovative U.K. importer and marketer with a forward thinking business model that includes corporate support of the producer at the winemaking level, not only in quality but in concept of product as part of overall market strategy. For the last three years of his six with HwCg, he was based in Cambridge and involved in of a number of projects in France, Spain, Chile and South Africa. At L’Avenir, Els directs all aspects of the estate’s activities, with help in the winery of Winemaker Pieter-Neil Rossouw. VARIETY ACREAGE YEAR/S PLANTED Chenin Blanc 17.35 1976, 2006, 2007 Sauvignon Blanc 30.79 1994, 1995, 1999, 2005 Chardonnay 28.00 1991 Verdelho 0.49 2005 TOTAL WHITE VINES 76.63 Pinotage 33.66 1985, 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon 18.04 1986, 1988 Cabernet Franc 6.20 2000 Merlot 20.21 1988, 2005 TOTAL RED VINES 78.11 TOTAL 154.74 In April of 2007, Michel Laroche took another rare opportunity to purchase the property immediately adjacent to the east of L’Avenir, called the Sentinel for its rather eccentric, crenellated, fortresslike structure overlooking the highway. Beyond annexing a somewhat embarrassing piece of architecture and widening the highway frontage, this added recently planted vineyard acreage to the L’Avenir holdings as well. The total estate footprint is 118 hectares (292 acres), of which 63 ha (155) are planted to vineyards. Of these, 70 ha (173, with 120 in vines) lie on the original L’Avenir estate and the remaining 48 ha (119, 35 in vines) on the Sentinel estate, where most of the unplanted area remains. Vineyards range in age from new to 30 years; most blocks date between 1988 and 1999. The Chenin Blanc vines are among the oldest in South Africa. The estate buildings are extensive and have been largely refurbished and beginning in 2006. The winery was renovated, with capacity in stainless steel tanks and collateral equipment expanded in November of 2006, and the warehouse area extended in July of 2007. A new bottling line was installed in of January of 2008, and late in the year significant storage capacity in stainless steel tanks was added. Cooperage is entirely in French oak barriques, of which approximately half is from Tonnellerie Vicard in Charente, and the other half from Taransaud, Seguin Moreau, François Frères, Demptos and a few other suppliers. The old oak library existing upon purchase of the estate has been gradually reduced to barriques of a maximum age of fourth fill, compensated for by the new capacity in stainless steel storage. Concurrently, new barriques are replenishing maturation capacity. The end result allows transfer of wines to tank once extraction of oak phenols and polymerization of tannins has reached optimum levels, rather than continued storage in barrique; and facilitates better management of fresher oak for élevage (shaping the wine during maturation), with the objective of elevating overall quality. Other structures on the original property, primarily the estate manager’s residence, administrative offices and the L’Avenir Lodge, have been modernized. The latter, a four star luxury bed and breakfast, is an eleven suite retreat with a central great room, deck and breakfast alcove looking across a shaded infinity pool. Each with individual deck or terrace, the rooms are fresh, gracious and welcoming, with native African decorative elements. The Sentinel structure was architecturally streamlined to fit more comfortably in its environment, and is now a crisp, contemporary cellar door and tasting bar with offices and meeting rooms on the upper floors and a panoramic, pergola-covered roof deck to host sunset receptions. A substantial professional kitchen connects the main building to an event venue able to accommodate up to 300, for which catering is subcontracted out. The estate is situated north of the town of Stellenbosch, roughly ten miles from the coast in a moderately warm valley mitigated by cool False Bay breezes. The topography slopes gently upward from the road to a crest near the center of the estate and descends slightly on the back side, with the mostly northeast-facing vineyards looking directly at the Simonsberg. The soil is predominantly of a type called Glenrosa, prevalent in the Cape, which is characterized by shallow topsoil lying on a disintegrating shale and granite base. Low in clay content, the rock subsoil, once broken, or “ripped,” yields fragmented rocks that become interspersed with silt, resulting in a medium for the vine that remains loose, through which roots can penetrate, but that is also highly drained, requiring irrigation. Glenrosa is considered to be one of the Cape’s best soil configurations for the vine. A vein of disintegrated shale runs through the property which is particularly suited to Pinotage vines. Most of the vineyard blocks are planted to trellised vines, but the old Pinotage blocks are cultivated in bush vines. Harvest is carried out by hand between January and March. The clusters are sorted and destemmed, with most of the white varieties pressed into temperature controlled stainless steel tanks; Chardonnay is the only variety which is whole bunch pressed and for which part of the blend, typically about 15 percent, is fermented in barrique. Fermentation is initiated with cultured yeasts, without initial addition of sulfur, and is completed over fifteen to twenty days at 16°C (61°F). On completion of the alcoholic fermentation, the wines remain on the lees for two to five months, depending on varietal and vintage, with bâtonnage following over a two-month period at intervals of between once weekly and once monthly. Malolactic fermentation is blocked. The barrique fermented Chardonnay component remains in oak for eight to ten months before blending with the stainless steel fermented component. A small percentage of the Chenin Blanc blend is given a four to five month period in barrique. A light sulfur treatment and fining precedes a coarse, low vacuum sterile filtration and bottling. After sorting and destemming, the red varieties are crushed into tank, cold soaked for 24 hours and inoculated with cultured yeasts. The Bordeaux varieties are fermented to dry at 24° to 28°C (75° to 82°F) with soft, brief pumpovers up to three times daily, depending on vintage. On completion of alcoholic fermentation, the wines are pressed from the skins, returned to tank for malolactic fermentation, and transferred to barriques of up to fifth fill for four to eight months. Cabernet Sauvignon and the Stellenbosch Classic components are given longer contact in newer oak. The wines are bottled, without fining, after a coarse sterile filtration. Pinotage is approached differently. The variety is notorious for its potential to exhibit rubbery, burned off odors if not carefully vinified. Els starts with a 24 hour cold soak and begins fermentation at a cool 15°C (59°F), allowing the temperature to rise to 30° to 32°C (86° to 90°F). At these relatively high temperatures, the less attractive aromatic compounds evaporate. This takes roughly three days, with pumpovers every four hours, and when the wine reaches 10°Brix (10 percent alcohol), it is racked, pressed from the skins, blended with approximately 20 percent press juice and returned to tank for completion of the alcoholic fermentation. Shortened skin contact avoids over extraction of other phenolic compounds detracting from the aromatic profile. Malolactic fermentation takes place partly in tank and partly in barrique. The components are then blended and the finished wine spends 12 to 14 months in new, second and third fill barriques with an average of two rackings. The wine is bottled after a coarse sterile filtration, without fining. L’Avenir’s production ranges from 25,000 to a maximum capacity of 35,000 cases annually. With the exception of a basic range of wines called “By L’Avenir,” wines are produced from estate vines, although an old vine, bush trained Chenin Blanc vineyard located to the southwest of the estate contributed fruit for the first time in the 2006 vintage. Wine Notes: L'Avenir Chenin Blanc L’Avenir produces its Chenin Blanc, the white variety for which South Africa is best known, from three blocks of estate vines totaling 17.35 acres planted in 1976, 2006 and 2007. Those planted in 1976 are among the oldest in the Cape. As of the 2006 vintage, it supplemented this fruit with grapes from a bush trained vineyard to the southwest of the estate with 22 and 42 year old vines. A hand harvest takes place between January and March. The clusters are sorted, destemmed and pressed into temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. A full tank fermentation is initiated with cultured yeasts, without initial addition of sulfur, and is completed over fifteen to twenty days at 16°C (61°F). On completion of the alcoholic fermentation, the wine remain on the lees for two to five months, depending vintage, with bâtonnage over two months at intervals of between once weekly and once monthly. Malolactic fermentation is blocked. A small percentage of the wine, on the order of five percent, is given four to five months in barrique. A light sulfur treatment and fining precedes a coarse, low vacuum sterile filtration and bottling. The wine is a classic expression of Chenin Blanc with the complexity lent by the amalgam of old and young vines. The latter contributes extremely subtle impressions of lanolin and wet wool underscored by rich, ripe pear and banana aromas; the younger components express citrus and herb notes. All of these are repeated with beautiful acidic balance on the palate in a rather broad, generous the texture that is long on the finish. L'Avenir Sauvignon Blanc L’Avenir Sauvignon Blanc is produced from five blocks of estate vines totaling 30.79 acres planted between 1994 and 2005. Fruit is harvested by hand between January and March. The clusters are sorted, destemmed and pressed into temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. A full tank fermentation is set off with cultured yeasts, without initial addition of sulfur, and is completed over fifteen to twenty days at 16°C (61°F). On completion of the alcoholic fermentation, the wines remains on the lees for roughly two months, with bâtonnage following over a two-month period at intervals of between once weekly and once monthly. Malolactic fermentation is blocked. A light sulfur treatment and fining precedes a coarse, low vacuum sterile filtration and bottling. This classic Sauvignon Blanc strikes a finely tuned balance between old world and new. Very pure white gold in color with pale green highlights, the nose is immediately expressive of bright citrus and herbs with notes of anise and a slight musky impression. The palate is very fresh and balanced with pronounced acidic underpinning, vivid citrus and grapefruit notes and nuances of herbs and bread crust leading into the clean, nervy finish. L'Avenir Chardonnay L’Avenir Chardonnay is produced from four blocks of estate vines totaling 28 acres planted in 1991. Harvest is carried out by hand between January and March. The clusters are sorted and whole bunch pressed, with most of the lots placed in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks; Chardonnay is the only variety for which part of the blend, typically about 15 percent, is fermented in new French barriques. Fermentation is initiated with cultured yeasts, without initial addition of sulfur, and is completed over fifteen to twenty days at 16°C (61°F). On completion of the alcoholic fermentation, the wine remains on the lees for up to five months, depending on vintage, with bâtonnage following over a two-month period at intervals of between once weekly and once monthly. Malolactic fermentation is blocked. The barrique fermented Chardonnay component remains in oak for eight to ten months before blending with the stainless steel fermented component. A light sulfur treatment and fining precedes a coarse, low vacuum sterile filtration and bottling. The age of the vines from which this Chardonnay is produced yield a lovely, complex, medium gold wine which gives an initial nose of sweet, broad, lush pear, apple and white fruit aromas with notes of minerals and toast. These carry onto the palate, with retro impressions of mango and papaya. The texture is round and silky, punctuated by elegant minerals and firm acidic underpinning. The finish is long, toasty and crisp. L'Avenir Pinotage L’Avenir Pinotage is produced from eight blocks of mostly bush trained vines: 33.66 acres planted in 1985, the last half of the 1990s and 2007. Fruit is hand harvested, sorted and destemmed; a 24 hour cold soak follows. Cultured yeast offsets fermentation at a cool 15°C (59°F). The temperature is allowed to rise to 30° to 32°C (86° to 90°F). At these relatively high temperatures, problematic aromatic compounds evaporate. This takes roughly three days, with pumpovers every four hours; when the wine reaches 10°Brix (10 percent alcohol), it is racked, pressed from the skins, blended with roughly 20 percent press juice and returned to tank to complete alcoholic fermentation. Shortened skin contact avoids over extraction of other potentially aggressive phenolic compounds. Malolactic fermentation takes place partly in tank and partly in barrique. The components are blended and the finished wine spends 12 to 14 months in new, second and third fill French barriques with an average of two rackings, and bottled after a coarse sterile filtration, without fining. This distinctive Pinotage merges old vine complexity with fresh, plump fruit lent by younger vines. The color is deep violet purple with amethyst highlights. The first aromatic impressions are of violets and plums followed by sweet black cherries, black currant and subtle notes of eucalyptus, menthol, sage, orange peel, coffee and vanilla. These carry into the palate, which is lush and velvety without weightiness. Ripe, finely delineated tannins frame the structure, and the wine finishes on a firm, balanced note. L'Avenir Merlot L’Avenir Merlot is produced from two blocks of estate vines totaling 20.21 acres planted between 1998 and 2005. After a hand harvest occurring between January and March, the clusters are sorted and destemmed, crushed into tank and cold soaked for 24 hours. Fermentation is initiated with cultured yeasts. The must is fermented to dry at 24° to 28°C (75° to 82°F) with soft, brief pumpovers up to three times daily, depending on vintage. On completion of alcoholic fermentation, the wine is pressed from the skins, returned to tank for malolactic fermentation, and transferred to barriques of up to fourth fill for up to eight months. The finished wine is then bottled, without fining, after a coarse sterile filtration. This deep crimson Merlot shows initial aromas of strawberry and blackberry with subtle notes of herbs, cedar and crushed stone. On the palate, it is plump, ripe and broadly fruity, with fine, soft tannins and a silky texture, finishing on a mellow, succulent note. L'Avenir Cabernet Franc L’Avenir Cabernet Franc is produced from a single block of estate vines totaling 6.2 acres planted in 2000. A hand harvest takes place between January and March. After sorting and destemming, the grapes are crushed into tank, cold soaked for 24 hours and inoculated with cultured yeasts. Fermentation takes place at 24° to 28°C (75° to 82°F) with soft, brief pumpovers up to three times daily, depending on vintage. On completion of alcoholic fermentation, the wine is pressed from the skins, returned to tank for malolactic fermentation, and transferred to barriques of up to fourth fill for approximately four months. The blend is then assembled, and the wine bottled, without fining, after a coarse sterile filtration. This deep violet-crimson wine is reminiscent of a classic Loire Valley Cabernet Franc in a plush, ripe style. The elegant aromatic impressions are of black and red currant with suggestions of dried herb, sage, spice and sandalwood. These carry onto the palate, which is ripe and medium bodied with a fine underscore of linear acidity and sweet tannins. The finish is refined and balanced. L'Avenir Cabernet Sauvignon L’Avenir Cabernet Sauvignon is produced from three blocks of estate vines totaling 18.04 acres planted between 1986 and 1988. Following a hand harvest, typically in March, the clusters are sorted and destemmed, crushed into tank, cold soaked for 24 hours and inoculated with cultured yeasts. The must is fermented to dry at 24° to 28°C (75° to 82°F) with soft, brief pumpovers up to three times daily, depending on vintage. On completion of alcoholic fermentation, the wine is pressed from the skins, returned to tank for malolactic fermentation, and transferred to barriques of up to fourth fill for four to eight months. Cabernet Sauvignon and the Stellenbosch Classic components are given longer contact in newer oak. The wines are bottled, without fining, after a coarse sterile filtration. This deep blue violet wine is a classic varietal expression of Cabernet Sauvignon, with aromas of cassis dominating notes of plum, dried herb, cedar and vanilla. On the palate, refined black fruit flavors are set in an elegantly balanced, finely tuned tannic structure with herb and restrained, sweet oak nuances leading into a long finish. L'Avenir Stellenbosch Classic L’Avenir Stellenbosch Classic is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc from select lots produced from estate vines. Harvest takes place, by hand, between January and March. After sorting and destemming, the varieties are crushed into separate tanks, cold soaked for 24 hours and inoculated with cultured yeasts. Fermentation takes place over a period of five days at 24° to 28°C (75° to 82°F) with soft, brief pumpovers up to three times daily, depending on varietal and vintage. On completion of alcoholic fermentation, the wines are pressed from the skins, returned to tank for malolactic fermentation, and transferred to barriques, a percentage of which are new, for up to fourteen months. The blend is then assembled, typically in a proportion of roughly 60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 20 percent each Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The finished wine is bottled, without fining, after a coarse sterile filtration. Stellenbosch Classic is a deep, blue violet wine of pronounced depth of color. The nose is dominated by ripe cassis aromas with notes of herbs and black pepper. These impressions are followed by a suggestion of roast meat and torrefaction. On the palate, lush black plum and black currant fruit cover ample, dusty tannins and a firm core of acidity. The finish is long and focused. L'Avenir Grand Vin Pinotage L’Avenir Grand Vin Pinotage is produced from a single block of the estate’s oldest, bush trained vines, planted in 1985. Fruit is hand harvested, sorted and destemmed; a 24 hour cold soak follows. Cultured yeast offsets fermentation at a cool 15°C (59°F). The temperature is allowed to rise to 30° to 32°C (86° to 90°F). At these relatively high temperatures, problematic aromatic compounds evaporate. This takes roughly three days, with pumpovers every four hours; when the wine reaches 10°Brix (10 percent alcohol), it is racked, pressed from the skins, blended with roughly 20 percent press juice and returned to tank to complete alcoholic fermentation. Shortened skin contact avoids over extraction of other potentially aggressive phenolic compounds. Malolactic fermentation begins in tank and finishes in barrique. The components are blended and the finished wine spends 12 to 14 months in new, 225 liter French barriques with an average of two rackings, and bottled after a coarse sterile filtration, without fining. This intense yet elegantly vinous Pinotage is deep purple red in color with dark ruby highlights. The exotically aromatic nose first suggests black cherries, grilled plum and dried fruit, followed by violet, roast beef, bacon and chocolate nuances. These are confirmed on the palate, which clearly shows airy yet enveloping old vine texture and firm, structured tannins. The finish is lengthy and seductive. Read less

Member Reviews for L'Avenir Estate Sauvignon Blanc Stellenbosch

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Snooth User: Rodolphe Boulanger
63471,856
0.00 5
Vintage: 2005 12/11/2008

peach. peaches,melon,a hint of herbs,boring finish. flabby


External Reviews for L'Avenir Estate Sauvignon Blanc Stellenbosch

External Review
Vintage: 2007 02/24/2010

L?Avenir Sauvignon Blanc 2007: Empfohlene Serviertemperatur: 8-12°C,Jahrgang: 2007Inhalt: 0,75 LRegion: StellenboschWeingut: L'AvenirRebsorte: 100% Sauvignon BlancRestzucker: Restsäure: Alkoholgehalt: Weißwein


External Review
Vintage: 2006 02/24/2010

L?Avenir Sauvignon Blanc 2006: empf. Trinktemperatur 8-12°C, lagerfähig 2 - 4 Jahre ab JahrgangJahrgang: 2006Inhalt: 0,75 LRegion: StellenboschWeingut: L'AvenirRebsorte: 100% Sauvignon BlancRestzucker: 2 g/LiterRestsäure: 4,5 g/LiterAlkoholgehalt: 0.13 Weißwein


External Review
Vintage: 2005 02/24/2010

L?Avenir Sauvignon Blanc 2005: Jahrgang: 2005Inhalt: 0,75 LRegion: StellenboschWeingut: L'AvenirRebsorte: 100% Sauvignon BlancRestzucker: 1,5 g/LiterRestsäure: 6,25 g/LiterAlkoholgehalt: 0.13 Weißwein



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