&Co – a distinctive Sauvignon from Hawkes Bay

new zealand sauvignon blanc

&Co – a distinctive Sauvignon from Hawkes Bay

Gabrielle Simmers first release from her Hawkes Bay vineyard raised some eyebrows when she poured it at the Bunch tasting today. It is one of the most distinctively packaged wines that I’ve encountered, bottled in clear glass and sealed with a crown cap, and just the name ‘&CO’ on the front label.

The wine itself is a Sauvignon Blanc from the 2009 vintage. She’s working with an 8.8 hectare vineyard, which she owns, of which 8.1 hectares is Sauvignon Blanc and the remainder Pinot Gris. It’s a distinctive site, and has been farmed organically since it was planted in 1989, with just a couple of years of conventional farming before it came into her ownership.

The soils are calcareous, it is quite a windy site, and the vines are spur-pruned, which results in low yields, at least by Sauvignon standards. The result is very small bunches with apricot-coloured speckling, making the grapes look more like Pinot Gris than Sauvignon. The grapes are hand-picked and 3-4 hours of skin contact is followed by fermentation and maturation in stainless steel.

Gabrielle is strongly influenced by a stage she did with Heymann-Loewenstein in Germany. The natural approach taken there caused her to question a lot of what she’d learned, and now she wants to go for a more natural style. She does use some irrigation, but would like to build up to dry farming, although the prospect is quite scary. Currently she only turns the drip irrigation on when she really has to.

The debut Sauvignon Blanc is not your in-yer-face Marlborough style. It is quite unique, made in a food friendly style. Packaging aside, to an extent Gabrielle has played it safe with this first vintage, and it will be interesting to see how the style evolves in the future.

&CO Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Taut, citrus and quite mineral with honeysuckle and lime notes, as well as gentle herbiness. There’s some structure on the palate: this is nicely dense with herb and citrus notes. Powerful flavours. A food-friendly style. 89/100 (UK availability: Lea & Sandeman)

12 Comments on &Co – a distinctive Sauvignon from Hawkes BayTagged , ,
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12 thoughts on “&Co – a distinctive Sauvignon from Hawkes Bay

  1. Very cool – I want to buy it just for the packaging – this confirms that I am truly a label drinker – as Jamie has often accused me of being. HOWEVER – I’m serious – I want to try it – so Jamie – where can we buy this?

  2. Sounds and looks interesting but certainly is gutsy/strange to use crown cap on 75cl still wine. Not everyone finishes a bottle in one sitting and therefore it seems a bit inconvenient. I assume her winemaking isn’t Frank Cornelissen style ‘natural’ and that the wine would oxidise significantly if left overnight? Provide your own cork style stopper? Thanks.

  3. I often leave bottles of (non-ancient) white overnight in the fridge with no closure and don’t have a problem.

    Presumably the “front label” is technically a “back label”?

  4. Crown cap is not uncommon. A few examples in Alsace, most notably Pierre Frick. Lots in Veneto and Emilia Romagna too – and not just sparkling wines. The “designer” label is too much for me, but chacun etc etc.

    Michael – Frank Cornelissen’s wines do the reverse of expected. The longer they’re open the fresher they become (up to a point). I’ve triple decanted them and left them for up to three days in a decanter (and that’s just the whites) until the reduction blows off and they display all their intrinsic fruit and minerality.

  5. I’ve had the chance to try this wine and it is definitely a NZ Sauv Blanc that I can get behind. Far from the standard style that has become boring. Gabrielle is lovely as well.

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