Celebrating Sauvignon Blanc
In the space of a decade, this ubiquitous grape variety has become very a la mode. It’s not a new variety, on the contrary, it’s the parent of the famous and equally ubiquitous red grape variety Cabernet Sauvignon. It has in fact become so popular that there is now an International ‘Sauvignon Blanc’ day on May 4th. Our wine expert, Andrew Bennett, takes us through a little history and comparison between two of our very own wines.
I recall tasting some of the early Sauvignons that came out of Marlborough, New Zealand in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. These wines, made by the likes of Cloudy Bay, Jackson Estate and Hunter’s brought something new and exciting to wine drinkers in the UK. Wines with attitude; like summer in a glass – flamboyant, grassy aromas and flavours of gooseberry, passion fruit and lime. Their vibrant, zingy and refreshing flavours are just perfect to savour on hot summer days.
In the last 10 years, the number of wineries in Marlborough has doubled on the back of huge demand for this eminently likeable and versatile grape variety. Before the late 1980’s it is astonishing to think that there was no ‘Savvy’ made in New Zealand. It is a recent phenomenon. Today, it makes up an incredible 72% of the entire NZ harvest!
By contrast, the wines of Sancerre and the central region of the Loire Valley have been fashionable in the bars and bistro’s of Paris since the 1960’s and probably long before. Although they don’t state it on the label, the famous wines of this area, also including Pouilly Fumé, Quincy and Menetou Salon are all made from Sauvignon Blanc. Their taste is quite different from those of New Zealand however.
Same Grape, Different Tastes
Loire Valley Sauvignon’s tend to be less aromatic and extravagant in flavour, instead the aromas and flavours are more mineral, with herbaceous citrus and green fruits. The cool latitude, northerly climate and winemaking approach tend to emphasise more the ‘terroir’ of the region; that is the sun, soil and slope of the vineyard. This crisp, lean style make them perfect food wines, especially when matched to the local cuisine. A well-chilled Sancerre accompanying an al fresco picnic of freshly made goats cheese and a still-warm baguette has to be one of life’s great pleasures.
New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs from Marlborough as well as nearby Nelson are very much the product of a ‘clean green land’. The warm climate, piercing sunlight and brilliant technical winemaking contrive to produce a style that is as exuberant and exotic as any. Indeed the well-known wine critic Oz Clarke said of NZ Savvy ‘There had never before been a wine that crackled and spat its flavours at you from the glass..’
So, come May 4th we hope you will celebrate International Sauvignon Day with a suitably explosive, exuberant and downright exotic Savvy. Or perhaps an edgy, steely, mineral old world number. Take your pick. Vive la différence!
Looking for the best Sauvignon Blanc to celebrate? Why not buy a row of vines in the Loire Valley and enjoy our Sancerre Cuvée Caillottes. Alternatively, order a regional wine box that contains our Heaphy Sauvignon Blanc from our boutique winery in New Zealand.