jamie goode's wine blog: Two iconic Marlborough Sauvignons

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Two iconic Marlborough Sauvignons

So what are the two most important wines from New Zealand? Tough question, but my answer would be a pair of Sauvignon Blancs from the Marlborough region. They weren't the first wines to be made in this region, but they were the ones that established its reputation and led to its current status as the best place on the globe to grow the Sauvignon Blanc grape. I like them both, but while I'd count them as New Zealand's most important wines, they're not currently its best wines, by quite a long margin.

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Marlborough, New Zealand
There’s something magical about Cloudy Bay. An iconic wine, particularly here in the UK where it used to be almost impossible to find on shelves, and which some merchants sold for as much as £25 a bottle. People love it: the label, the name, the wine. Anyway, availability seems to have improved – I picked this up in Sainsbury’s. Assertive, grassy nose with complex herbal flavours with some nice aromatics and a hint of tropical fruit. The palate is intense and herby with some grapefruit and citrus character, as well as high acidity. Not as rich and showy as the early Cloudy Bays, but still an attractive wine. 88/100 (£16.99 Sainsbury’s, 13.5% alcohol)

Montana Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Marlborough, New Zealand
A classic: this is one of the wines that established Marlborough as a great place to grow Sauvignon Blanc. It’s also the wine that introduced me to Sauvignon Blanc back in the early 1990s. Made in reasonable quantities, it’s totally reliable and a great ambassador for New Zealand wine. Fresh, lively nose with great balance between the grassy, herby aromas and the richer passion fruit characters. The palate is lively and intensely fruity with green grassy, grapefruity freshness allied with fuller tropical fruit notes. It has lots of personality. 88/100 (£7.93 Asda, 12.5% alcohol)
Read more about the origins of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and the importance of Montana's here.

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At 7:32 AM, Blogger Tim said...

Interesting...a friend of mine and I were just discussing the current availability of Cloudy Bay at Sainsbury's. I said that I thought it used to be hard to come by, and that perhaps it's not the prized asset that it used to be.

I wouldn't pay £16.99 for it, not with cheaper, high-quality alternatives next to it like Bochendal, Montana, Oyster Bay, Villa Maria, and even Sainsbury's own-label, for half the price.

At 7:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You both need to try DOG'S POINT (Oyster Bay is rubbish) - DOG's POINT rocks!!!! What's more you need to try the Dog's Point Section 94 - most extraordinary Sauvignon you'll ever taste!! JAMIE - get your perfectly toned ass off to New Zealand and go taste them all!!!!

At 9:37 AM, Anonymous andyincayman said...

Absolutley agree with Tim.

My Mother only drinks NZ SB so get through quite alot of it at Xmas and easter etc. Always found the Cloudy bay overpriced whilst Montana excelent value, whilst at the same time more interesting.

Dog point is very good too (I also love the s94 but not "typical") and cheeper than Cloudy Bay.

At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you like Section 94 then I would suggest Seresin Marama and in fact Cloudy bay's Te Koko. Both getting much more texture and 'wildness' not really commercial styles though.

I think for Marlborough Sauvignon that Villa Maria are setting the pace along with St Clair

At 3:04 PM, Anonymous Ben Smith said...

I always thought that Villa Maria Clifford Bay knocked spots off Cloudy Bay. The fact is there are so many good NZ Savvys out there; Wither Hills, Jackson Estate, Palliser, bla bla bla...

At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cloudy Bay: overhyped and over here...

Why do mugs insist on paying top whack for this unremarkable Sauvignon?

At 3:55 PM, Blogger Vinogirl said...

Ah...the art of distribution...those of us who grow grapes are just not well versed in the intricacies of actually selling wine.
You can get Cloudy Bay here.
Have become quite partial to 'hot weather' SB's. The '08s are showing great already...no rain here last year from Feb to Oct...aids in great canopy management.

At 4:27 PM, Anonymous Doug said...

Over a million bottles of Cloudy Bay made; not exactly boutique stuff...

I agree with anon about Dog Point (not Dog's Point, by the way). Section 94 is atypical of Marlborough Sauvignon and as expensive as a top Sancerre, but a terrific example of handcrafted Sauvignon. Clos Henri, Framingham, Wither Hills and Seresin are also amongst those taking the grape variety to the next level.

The most interesting Sauvs are the ones which have been worked on the lees and been given time to settle. There is an unholy rush to get the product into the English market as soon as possible and early bottled examples are often lean and green.

Positive trends in Marlborough include more estate-grown wine (and thus identification of the best soils for growing grapes) and, in the winery, the emergence of a few growers experimenting with wild yeast ferment.

At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Ron McFarland said...

I think this discussion highlights the evolution taking place within the New Zealand wine industry.

One part is the global distribution of wines produced in mass quanities to meet price points.

The other group is returning to the original roots and producing fine wine, especially to be enjoyed with foods.

There is a challenge for the consumer because the global brand "New Zealand" has tried to spin all wine in New Zealand as being a similar high quality.

Consumers now need to ask a few more questions to their retailers - who made this wine - how much was produced etc. By getting to know more about the people behind the wine, we will discover New Zealand wine at its best.

At 9:09 AM, Blogger sheela said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.




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