Over the past decade or two Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has exploded in popularity in Ireland and the rest of the world. It’s a distinctive wine with an expressive nose and piercing, shiny fruit flavours that other regions and countries are trying to replicate.
Having just said it’s distinctive, there are several different expressions of the Marlborough style. Here are four wines which, though all recognisably Marlborough, also reflect the vineyard where they are made and the preferences of the winemaker. You won’t tend to find them in the supermarket, but they are worth seeing out from a good wine shop.
Lawson’s Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2014
(RRP €20.50, Sweeney’s and other independent wine shops)
This is a fairly straight up Savvy but it’s a fantastic example from a great vintage – and it’s important to buy the latest vintage whenever possible as the explosive flavours and aromas can subside somewhat in the years following vintage. It’s a blend of fruit from all seven of Marlborough’s subregions so it shows tropical fruit, citrus, mineral characters and a bit of texture all together.
Astrolabe Awatere Sauvignon Blanc 2014
(RRP €22.49, O’Briens)
From the cooler eastern end of Marlborough, this shows startling acidity and restrained fruit. There’s more citrus than tropical notes here, we’re talking grapefruit and gooseberry. This is the sort of Sauvignon which would partner well with food rather than overpowering it – especially seafood. This might sound weird but I reckon it’s a Riesling lover’s Sauvignon!
Churton Best End Sauvignon Blanc Hillside, Marlborough 2013
(€29.00, not yet sold in Ireland)
Whereas the Astrolabe can go well with food, this is designed to be drunk at the table. With more than a suggestion of Sancerre on the palate, the makers “aim to produce sophisticated wines that have elegance and texture, complexity and layers of flavour, subtlety and length”. Churton is a boutique producer and has focused on being listed in upmarket restaurants. The “Best End” is a plot at the westerly end of their Waihopai Valley vineyard.
Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2012
(RRP €50.49, O’Briens and good independent wine shops)
When is a Sauvignon not a Sauvignon? When it’s been barrel fermented with wild yeast! Cloudy Bay helped to put Marlborough firmly on the wine map back in the late 80s and early 90s. From the Maori for a shellfish scoop, Te Koko is very much an alternative style, with rich texture and savoury characters in addition to fruit flavours. It’s a very interesting wine that would partner well with aromatic foods, but also repays contemplation on its own.
Frankie caught the wine bug living in France in the 90s and has been sharing his love of wine ever since. He also writes for his own blog Frankly Wines and Glass Of Bubbly magazine and runs private wine tasting events.
– “Frankly Wines” Blog http://frankstero.com
– “Frankly Wines” on Twitter @frankstero – https://twitter.com/frankstero