These five Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc’s offer something for everyone who thinks that there is nothing interesting coming out of Marlborough, with wines ranging from fresh and lean Matahiwi through to the extraordinariness of the Hans Herzog.
Just as other grape varieties before it (over ripe & over oaked Chardonnay and too sweet Riesling, anyone?) that slow tide is turning on Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Whereas, five years ago I would ask my students to indicate whether they would drink Sauvignon Blanc vs Chardonnay with Sauvignon Blanc being almost unanimous, last week I put the question to my current class and not one indicated that they drank Sauvignon Blanc. Any Sauvignon Blanc… not just from the region that set Sauvignon Blanc drinkers on fire over a decade ago – Marlborough.
Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc does not have to be a sweet sour acid trip to the tropics. There has been a burgeoning group of winemakers that have been experimenting with different winemaking techniques to produce wines that have that interest factor that makes them worth seeking out.
Matahiwi Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013
A sauvignon blanc style that is leaner on the palate. There is still some detailed vanilla cream and cinnamon spice to the stonefruit and pineapple but it is the herbal nuances that come through on the palate that keeps your interest. Fresh drinking in a more elegant style. Enjoy with a light starter, then take it into the conversation nook for some quality time together. (NZD$14)
Hunter’s Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Jane Hunter’s sauvignon blanc has it all happening but with a sense of calm. Yes, there is plenty of tropical passionfruit along with some herbaceousness, however, this has some bewitching citrus fruit as well. The result is a wine with soft acid and gentle complexity along the fine tuned even palate that finishes on a savoury note. This is the wine that delivers both freshness and texture well. (AUD$15+, NZD $19, GBP15)
Catalina Sounds Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Sound of White
A richly toasted, oaked style of Sauvignon Blanc where the melon and pineapple fruit has attained a sophisticated dimension of spiced pastry and a fullness of body thanks to some time in large oak barrels with 40% of the wine being fermented with indigenous yeast. The wine then had a long rest on lees before bottling. The oak and lees treatment has softened the acid although it is still fresh. This freshness helps retain the more perfumed melon and summer tropical fruit salad and herbs on the palate. The finish is refined and complex. This wine is a journey in a glass. Enjoy with or without food. (AUD28)
Ara Resolute Sauvignon Blanc 2012
This is a wild yeast fermented, single estate wine from Marlborough. To add facets to the wine, a portion was fermented, not temperature controlled, in small stainless steel barrels and French puncheons. All up it spent around 8 months on lees. While there is the some leesy spice, the stonefruit shines brightly with a light herbal support act. Fresh apple acid gives this Sauvy a firm crunch on the finish that is balanced out by a dollop of residual sugar. There is a real elegance to the fruit detail and the acid balance in the Resolute. Thus this is a good one to sit and enjoy with friends and then move on to dinner with. (NZD$35+, AUD$28+)
Hans Herzog Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012
The ‘sur lie’ on the label gives it away. This wine has had up to 15 months resting on its lees, some has seen large format oak and indigenous yeast ferment to give it a distinctive smoky biscuit aroma that wraps around the sweetly fragrant tropical fruit salad tempered by tomato stalk herbaceousness. On the palate the lees contact has added rich gingerbread spice to the intense fruit that his mid palate and lingers. A great food wine. This is a wine for those happy for a wine to push the boundaries and are looking for that ‘edginess’. (NZD$44)