A baking-hot summer meant a smaller vintage but a big flavour boost to the crop of sauvignon blanc now hitting our shelves, says MARY-THERESE BLAIR
AFTER CHALLENGING vintages in both 2017 and 2018, some sunshine-infused relief graced New Zealand’s vineyards in 2019 with superb quality reported from vineyards throughout the country. For our nation’s hero grape, sauvignon blanc, this year less was more. Although a smaller vintage – down 1 per cent on last year, which was itself a small vintage – the calibre is touted as exceptional. Sauvignon’s spiritual home of Marlborough enjoyed a long, hot, dry summer and as a result, an early harvest ensued. Despite the early pick, the fruit quality was excellent and achieved optimal fleshy ripeness. The result in the glass is powerfully aromatic sauvignon blancs with great flavour concentration and ripe, juicy acidity shining through. No question, this year sauvignon lovers will be spoilt for choice. High quality and lower quantity however, makes for obvious supply-anddemand pressures. I recommend picking up our top choices sooner rather than later.
TASTING PANEL For this tasting panel, Ben Glover, owner and head winemaker for Zephyr Wines in Marlborough and internationally renowned wine judge, was joined by two experienced and talented winemakers: Jo Gear, owner and head winemaker for One Block Wines and David Roper, Auckland winemaker for Villa Maria.
SAINT CLAIR WINEMAKERS Stewart Maclennan and Hamish Clark weren’t messing around when it came to this stunning sauvignon blanc harvested from the fertile, free-draining soils in the lower Wairau Valley in Marlborough. This singlevineyard wine is the total package – it has lift and power on the nose, aromas of blackcurrant leaf and thyme with tropical opulence and incredible citrus oozing forth. In addition, and some might consider even more importantly, it has palate weight and length to go with it. Remarkable mineral crunch and juiciness with everlasting length and vibrancy. A sauvignon to rule them all by unanimous agreement.
Intense heady aromas of ripe tomato leaf and capsicum with equal intensity …2
Knife-edge herbaceousness with seductive juicy lime, rose and whitepeach notes. This class …3
A gorgeous example of snowpea, citrus and refined box hedge on the …4
The more traditional and outspoken ‘look at me’ style of sauvignon blanc, …5
Showing the art of the ripe green edge – succulent, juicy and …6
A very classy wine with refined green notes and a beautiful balance on …7
Green tobacco, snow pea and lime on the nose, subtle with a …8
Lovely greens, fennel, leaf and just a touch of thiol notes but …9
An exceptional example with saline and herbal aromas, and a palate full …10