I’ve known and tasted with Duncan for more than a decade, beginning with his 14-year tenure as winemaker at Cape Point. He began making wines under his own label in 2011 and eventually opened his own winery in the Salt River neighborhood of Cape Town. I visited his urban winery (the only one in Cape Town) for the first time a couple of months ago and then we did a tour of some of the vineyards where he sources his grapes including the 1956 Chenin Blanc vineyard in Paarl shown below. In this article I review his current releases, mostly from 2022, a somewhat problematic vintage with several heat spikes around harvest time. The best wines of 2022 were the result of vineyard site (cooler, higher locations), harvest times (earlier better than later), scrupulous sorting, and just plain luck. As usual, the 2022 Savage wines are beautiful and among the best in the Western Cape, but even Duncan prefers his wines from the outstanding 2021 vintage.
Many thanks to Duncan for the excellent tasting and vineyard tour, and thanks to Mike Bampfield-Duggan of Wine Concepts for accompanying me on the visit.
Salt River 2022 Sauvignon Blanc Stellenbosch 93 This wine, sold under the Salt River label, is Duncan’s Sauvignon Blanc made with a touch of Chenin. He makes 5 thousand cases of it, much more than his other bottlings, and it’s only sold in the US and UK. But in some respects it reveals his winemaking skills more than wines made from tiny parcels of old vines. Whole bunch pressed and fermented with native yeast, the wine is more oxidative than reductive in style, although there’s a hint of green bean on the nose. It offers rich flavors with excellent balance and at approximately $25/bottle is a real steal. Sourced from selected vineyards in the Western Cape. 13.5% alc.
Savage 2022 White Western Cape 94 Duncan’s White, a 75/25 Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon blend, is consistently one of our favorite white wines. The Semillon is fermented and matured in 20% new French oak, giving the wine just a whiff of spicy oak on the nose. As with other vintages, the mouth feel is refined, silky and rich, with a clean yet lively finish. This is a white wine one should cellar age for 3-5 years. I recently opened a ten year old Savage White from my cellar, and it was perfect. 14% alc.
Savage 2022 Follow the Line Darling 95 Opens with scents of spice, red berries, and rose petals, the hallmark of Darling Cinsault according to Duncan. Seductive, silky mouth feel with intense, pure light red fruit flavors. Sourced from a 2 ha windy, southeast-facing vineyard in Darling planted in 1982, fermented with 50% whole bunches and matured in neutral, large format foudres. Gorgeous! 13% alc.
Savage 2022 Girl Next Door Cape Town 94 The Girl Next Door is one of our all time favorite Western Cape wines both for its delicate refinement and its unique provenance on the narrow Cape peninsula, well-traveled by tourists on their way to Cape Point. The tiny, 0.38 ha vineyard lies just 3 km from the beach in Fish Hoek buffeted by winds from both the west and east. Starlings, renowned for their impeccable taste in grapes, love this site, which must be netted for any fruit to survive! The bouquet reveals red fruit, spice, and black olive. The wine has a wonderful purity and flawless pairing of fruit and acidity with a hint of salinity and fine-grained tannins that lend just enough spine. A truly unique and delicious wine. Made with 50% whole clusters and 10 months aging in 18 hl foudre. 13.3% alc.
Savage 2021 Red Western Cape 95 Duncan’s Red used to be a Rhone blend, but now is made from 100% Syrah. It offers a spicy, dark-fruited bouquet mirrored on a concentrated, deeply flavored, firmly structured palate with a note of cracked pepper, finishing with grippy tannins that suggest a long cellar life. The grapes are sourced from three Quills River parcels with granitic soils totaling 7 ha owned by the family of Duncan’s wife. Fermented with 70% whole bunches and matured in 500L barrels for one year followed by a year in foudre and then bottled. 13.6% alc.
Source : https://i-winereview.com/blog/index.php/2024/01/11/duncan-savage-new-releases-from-a-leading-south-africa-winemaker/