Mud House Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2014

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Winery: Established in 1996, with a focus on the earth and environment, the Mud House name reflects their “origin and link to the earth, where the wine begins”. Mud House has vineyards in 3 different regions of New Zealand’s South Island; Marlborough, Waipara Valley and Central Otago, along with two wineries, one in Marlborough and one in the Waipara Valley. Employing a combination of innovative technology along with the “passion and artisan skill of the winemakers” they strive to capture the essence from where the grapes come from, “ensuring the unique complexities of each region travelled through the earth through the vineyard to the glass”. The Mud House range of wines are crafted to be “everyday wines to enjoy at any occasion”.

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from the Woolshed vineyard [clay and loam soils] located in Upper Wairau Valley, Marlborough. Planted in 2001, the 105.5 hectares of vines are nestled “in the shelter of a steep sided triangular hill called the ‘Delta’”. Grapes from Woolshed are designated for the Single Vineyard Woolshed Sauvignon Blanc and the Mud House Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

Tasting Notes: Pale gold in colour with aromas of peach, pineapple and tomato leaf. Super fruity and refreshing, with lush, tropical fruits sculpted by racy acidity and herbaceous hints, finishing with energizing citrus zest notes.

100% Sauvignon Blanc
Marlborough
New Zealand
Produced and Bottled by Accolade Wines New Zealand Ltd, Riverlands
13% Alcohol
$14
Enjoy now thru 2017

Rated 89 points by Wine Spectator

Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2015

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Winery: Loveblock Vintners was founded by Erica and Kim Crawford and is located in the high hills overlooking the Awatere Valley in New Zealand’s famous Marlborough region. The estate vineyard, ‘Loveblock Farm’ is certified organic, whilst the other vineyards are practicing organic, as with the majority of vineyards in New Zealand, synthetic/chemical products are not used. Many sustainable methods such as “natural compost, cover crops and livestock are used to enhance soil health”.

Philosophy: “Creating the best wine we can to express this extraordinary place and its unique aspect. We follow our deeply held belief in ethical farming which enables the wine to show its true and naked terroir.”

Winemaking: Grapes are sourced from “from estate vineyards in Marlborough, two in the lower Awatere valley, and one at the base of the Waihopai valley”. The soil is a blend of alluvial loam with clay over stone. “A small portion of the wine goes through natural and malolactic fermentation, cutting the sharp edge off the palate.”

Tasting Notes: Super pale gold in colour with aromas of yellow apple, melon, papaya and green olive. Tropical in character, with bright pineapple, peach, papaya and apricot flavours balanced by vivid acidity. The herbaceous hint on the dry, citrus finish is a lovely compliment to all of the fruit.

Sauvignon Blanc with small amounts of Arneis, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer [I was unable to confirm varietal percentages.]
Marlborough
New Zealand
Produced & Bottled by Loveblock Vintners
13.5% Alcohol
$17
Enjoy now thru 2020

Villa Maria ‘Private Bin’ Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2015

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Estate: One of my favorite New Zealand wineries, Villa Maria was founded in 1961 when George Fistonich leased 5 acres in Marlborough from his father. Today the family estate has more than 250 employees, exports wine to over 50 countries and is New Zealand’s most awarded winery. Practicing sustainable farming and possessing a long term view of both the environment and the wine business, Villa Maria believes that “sustainability is not an end point but a journey and therefore we are always finding ways to embed sustainable principles into the culture of the organization”.

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from vineyards across the Marlborough region, specifically from the warm Wairau Valley [which contributes “richness and riper tropical flavours”] and the cooler Awatere Valley [providing the “zingy acid structure and pungent herbal aromatics”]. Cool, slow fermentation in stainless steel tanks to “retain distinctive regional and varietal characteristics”.

Tasting Notes: Pale gold in colour with vibrant aromas of fresh peach, lime and tomato leaf. Juicy peach, melon and sweet mandarin orange run atop an undercurrent of zippy citrus zest. Tomato leaf and grass make an appearance on the crisp, dry finish. With wonderfully well balanced fruit and green notes, this is a fantastic expression of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc at a stunningly affordable price.

100% Sauvignon Blanc
Marlborough
New Zealand
Produced and Bottled by Villa Maria Estate
13% Alcohol
$9
Enjoy now thru 2019

Rated 90 points by Wine Spectator

Villa Maria ‘Bubbly’ Sauvignon Blanc 2015

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Villa Maria ‘Bubbly’ Sauvignon Blanc debuting at The New Zealand Wine Fair in NYC, accompanied by George the Sheep.

Estate: One of my favorite New Zealand wineries, Villa Maria was founded in 1961 when George Fistonich leased 5 acres in Marlborough from his father. Today the family estate has more than 250 employees, exports wine to over 50 countries and is New Zealand’s most awarded winery. Practicing sustainable farming and possessing a long term view of both the environment and the wine business, Villa Maria believes that “sustainability is not an end point but a journey and therefore we are always finding ways to embed sustainable principles into the culture of the organization”.

Winemaking: “Fruit for this wine was sourced from a selection of vineyards throughout New Zealand spanning a range of different climates and soil types. Cool, slow fermentation in stainless steel tanks”, bottled soon after fermentation to capture its freshness. This is a brand new offering from the estate. Made in the style of an Italian frizzante [lightly sparkling].

Tasting Notes: Cheerful and sunny, with melon and citrus buoyed by small, fizzy bubbles. Good acidity compliments fresh juicy flavours; the clean, zippy finish keeps you reaching for more. Fantastic for summer sipping!

100% Sauvignon Blanc
New Zealand
13% Alcohol
$15 [average price]
Enjoy now

 

Media event hosted by New Zealand Winegrowers

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc: What You Need to be Pouring [and Aging!]

I was delighted to attend the New Zealand Wine Fair along with a seminar titled The Ageability of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The tasting and seminar were held at the Metropolitan Pavilion in NYC. Members of the seminar panel included Joe Czerwinski of Wine Enthusiast, Ruud Maasdam, founder and winemaker of Staete Landt Vineyards, and Christine Kernohan, managing director and winemaker of Gladstone Vineyard.

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has made an incredible impact on wine drinkers throughout the world. A speedy, steady growth in beginning in the 1990’s has resulted in Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand setting the style benchmark for the grape. Recently at the second Drinks Business Global Sauvignon Blanc Masters competition New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc “took home the lion’s share of medals across the board” [157 wines were entered from 11 different countries]. Most significantly in the “Value for Money” category [under £15], out of the 14 wines competing, New Zealand won 9 of the gold medals.

The rise in popularity [currently Sauvignon Blanc is the UK’s top-selling white variety], mirrored New Zealand’s commitment to sustainability. Today nearly 100% of wines produced are certified sustainable, with many also being certified organic and biodynamic.

There are 10 growing regions that cover 1000 miles, from the subtropical northern regions to the mountainside vineyards in the south. This regional diversity creates a broad spectrum of styles within New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. There are 2 main styles within the range; the classic or “Greywacke” style which is the most widely known, especially to the American market. A pungent aroma, loads of tropical fruit, bell pepper, legendary grass notes and a vibrant acidity are characteristics of this “classic” style, which is cold fermented in stainless steel. The second style or approach are wines that are crafted with natural yeasts, have been aged on the lees and see a bit of oak. These wines tend to display a wider range of flavours and complexity.

The seminar explored those styles further by contrasting and comparing Sauvignon Blanc from 3 different regions.
Marlborough vineyards are of predominantly clay soil, which produces wines with high, astringent acidity, complimented by tropical fruit and herbaceous flavours. These are regarded as “the perfect examples of New Zealand terroir”, the trademark of New Zealand style.
Wairarapa, located in the southeastern part of the North Island, produces wines in a more “gentle style”. The wines are known for their expressive minerality and elegance.
Wairau Valley is more northern in location and has a greywacke soil, producing wines in a classic, fruity style.

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has an interesting value scale. Whilst there is good value in the average $10 bottle, by going up in price a couple of dollars, the quality increases vastly. The example given was that it’s possible to double the quality of the wine just by going from a $10 purchase to $12.

Sauvignon Blanc has a naturally high acidity due to the cool climate; this increases its ability to age well. Putting Sauvignon Blanc away for 10-15 years is just not a common practice, but it should be. “Good vineyards will give a nice reward” when aged.

In addition to not giving wines the ability to develop with a bit of age; I also observed that many times, white wines are served too cold. The wines in the seminar had been opened and left at room temperature for about an hour, which allows the fruit and elegant minerality to really develop.

I enjoyed all of the 9 wines presented, below are the ones I found the most engaging and expressive of where they come from, along with representing different winemaking approaches. [Ordered from youngest to oldest vintage.]

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Matua ‘Lands and Legends’ Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2015
Immediately recognized as the New Zealand style and even more specifically, that of Marlborough. Energetic aromas of tomato leaf and melon introduce this classic style, with stone fruits, melon and herbal hints highlighted by a bright acidity and clean finish.
Cold fermented.
[This was the only wine that was accompanied by food; it was paired with oysters, one of the classic styles’ most popular pairings.]
$20

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Villa Maria Single Vineyard ‘Taylors Pass’ Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2015
[Awatere Valley]
Vibrant, fresh and well balanced with apricot, tomato leaf, lemon, and a streak of minerality. A bit of spice surfaces on the zesty, citrus finish. My tasting notes have “just lovely” underscored multiple times.
13.5% Alcohol
$25

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Gladstone Vineyard Reserve ‘Sophie’s Choice’ Sauvignon Blanc Wairarapa 2012
Tasting like liquid lemon tarts, this has a wonderful nutty undercurrent. Floral and sweet grass notes compliment vibrant acidity, finishing with flinty minerals and more bright lemon. Winemaker Christine Kernohan said she believes this can continue to age for another 12-15 years.
13% Alcohol
$22 [current vintage price as this is no longer on the market]

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Churton ‘Best End’ Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2013
From biodynamic vineyards located at an extremely high elevation in the mountains, my immediate reaction was “whiskey-like”. Bright, rich flavours of fruit and smoky spice with a streak of honey, ginger and minerality, this is memorable and engaging, and keeps you reaching for more.
The “new style”, barrel aged for 1 year.
14% Alcohol
$28

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Dog Point ‘Section 94’ Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2008
Incredibly interesting with the characteristic fresh herbaceousness, tomato leaf and stone fruits [I tasted nectarine specifically]. Smoke, buttered toast, and a trace of salinity meld into subtle vanilla on the finish. Fantastically intriguing, Joe Czerwinski said he has tasted this in previous years and feels it has improved with age.
Aged for 18 months in old French oak barrels.
14% Alcohol
$30 [current vintage price as this is no longer on the market]

Staete Landt Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2004
The oldest Sauvignon Blanc of the seminar, still displaying a racy acidity, still intense and bright. Flavours of peach and tomato leaf, citrus and nuances of buttered toast carrying thru to the finish. Complex and mellow, with an elegant edge, proving that New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has the fortitude for decade plus of ageing.
Some wild fermentation, aged 40-50% in steel, the rest in old barriques.
$18 [current vintage price as this is no longer on the market]

Media event hosted by New Zealand Winegrowers