Sauvignon blanc is big business in the UK.
I suspect that is partly because (like some butters) it is great straight from the fridge (while chardonnay works better 3°or 4° warmer).
However, that assertive acidity (especially from New Zealand) and flavours delivered in the equivalent of primary colours, also play a part.
Consequently, last year’s reduced harvest in Marlborough set alarm bell jangling loudly
Would that be replicated in 2022 and, if so, what were the implication for its numerous fans here?
So, our main item today examines one of the first wines from that vintage to land on these shores.
The post also looks at two Italian whites (a Tuscan blend and a “back from the brink” grape variety) as well as classy South African cabernet.
To help you locate and source the wines being recommended, pictures and hyperlinks are provided where possible.
Starting with that 2022 Sauvignon
Given the immense worldwide demand for New Zealand sauvignon blanc, the 2022 harvest was indeed awaited with trepidation.
Happily, the results were good with volumes up by over 40% on 2021 and 20% on 2020.
This prompted the CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers to strike a very positive note.
He forecast that “producers will be able to rebuild seriously depleted stocks and sales, while customers should get to see retail shelves restocked once more”.
Ah! but what’s quality like?
Well, as the first ones are going into shops now, I considered that question using one of the earliest arrivals in Tesco wine aisles.
Even though outriders, understandably, seldom have the intensity, complexity (and modest prices) of later arrivals, the omens are good.
All the classic Marlborough elements are in place in the example I tried – 2022 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc (£9 – instead of £10 until 26 September – for Tesco Clubcard holders and 12.5% abv).
With attractive orange traces on the finish, it is centred around moderately textured apple and grapefruit flavours embellished by good, fresh (but not intrusive) acidity and mild herbal components.
Do let me know what you think when you manage to get hold of something from this new vintage – Yealands versions are not far away I believe.
Tuscany has no all-conquering white wine grape to rival sangiovese’s dominance with their red wines.
Consequently, its producers have been flexible and, here, have created an imaginative and tasty white blend from an assortment of local grape varieties.
Aromatic and ripe, it brings us gentle peach and fresh pineapple flavours embedded in a creamy, viscous texture that also contains savoury herbal influences – but is enlivened by firm lime acidity.
2018 Reyneke Cornerstone (£16.99 – instead of £19.99 until 27 September at Waitrose Cellar) and 13.5%.
South Africa seems to have developed new cabernet sauvignon clones which many feel produce riper, sweeter fruit than of old.
Weight and structure have been preserved though – especially with Stellenbosch examples – as this Bordeaux blend from there illustrates.
Floral and delightfully perfumed, it exhibits ripe cherry and loganberry flavours supported by firm tannin but fresh acidity.
Traces of mint and star anise are also integrated into its rounded and well-balanced depth to create beautiful wine that will grace any special occasion.
Note, however, that this a Waitrose Cellar line and is unlikely to be available in the retailer’s physical stores.
Little to report on current promotions in major retailers except to remind everyone that the existing deals at Sainsbury’s will expire next Tuesday (20 September).
I will provide details of any successor promotion as soon as they are available.
Star Buy from Promotions
2021 Tesco Finest Passerina (£6 – instead of £7 with a Clubcard until 26 September – at Tesco and 13%)
Italy has a long list of “born again” white wines saved from extinction (fiano, falighina etc) and here is another.
Passerina vines do well in Marche and, in this case, Abruzzo and provide great enjoyment in both areas for white wine fans – and for the local sparrow population that give the grape its name.
Uncomplicated with a long finish, it features apple and sherbet lemon flavours with hints of peach coupled here with a smooth texture, good acidity and a subtle savoury twist of tarragon.
Tune in again on Monday when value at budget price points is, once more, the theme of my latest Top Tips post.
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