Looking Beyond New Zealand Sauvignon

By Robert Boutflower

 

An important aspect of wine production, as opposed to bread-making, writes Robert Boutflower , perhaps, is that wine flavours are pretty specific, and grapes definitely do better in certain specific regions and areas than others. This is currently causing a problem for that darling of the moment – New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

 

New Zealand has had huge success with the bold, juicy style of Sauvignon that is so appealing, but... it is struggling to produce enough to satisfy global demand. The epicentre of production, the Wairau Valley in the Marlborough region at the top of South Island, is running out of space to grow enough vines. Furthermore, we must allow for the vagaries of the weather (quantity is 30% down for the vintage currently on the shelves) and the problems with logistics worldwide which are adding up to six months delay on shipping to the thirsty consumer. All of which means that prices are moving up steadily, and shelves of your favourite ‘kiwi blanc’ may well be empty. All, of course, is not lost.

 

Try our selections in the ' Beyond New Zealand Sauvignon ' mixed half dozen - £64 (saving £5.30)

An important aspect of wine production, as opposed to bread-making, writes Robert Boutflower , perhaps, is that wine flavours are pretty specific, and grapes definitely do better in certain specific regions and areas than others. This is currently causing a problem for that darling of the moment – New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

 

New Zealand has had huge success with the bold, juicy style of Sauvignon that is so appealing, but... it is struggling to produce enough to satisfy global demand. The epicentre of production, the Wairau Valley in the Marlborough region at the top of South Island, is running out of space to grow enough vines. Furthermore, we must allow for the vagaries of the weather (quantity is 30% down for the vintage currently on the shelves) and the problems with logistics worldwide which are adding up to six months delay on shipping to the thirsty consumer. All of which means that prices are moving up steadily, and shelves of your favourite ‘kiwi blanc’ may well be empty. All, of course, is not lost.

 

Try our selections in the ' Beyond New Zealand Sauvignon ' mixed half dozen - £64 (saving £5.30)

Sauvignon Blanc Grapes Ripening

Menetou-Salon, Morogues, Le Petit Clos, Jean-Max Roger

Sauvignon Blanc, happily, does have other sites around the world where it performs very well and, while it may not manage to recreate the full-blown 'gooseberry and passionfruit’ attack you get in New Zealand, there’s often more than enough class and character to impress.

 

So, what to try? Until it was so firmly embraced by the Antipodeans, Sauvignon’s seat had been firmly in the Loire Valley and Bordeaux, both cool areas where the natural aromatics from this grape can really come to the fore. Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé are the obvious choices, but look to their lesser-known satellites, such as Menetou-Salon , for the slightly herby whites served in the bistros of Paris. It’s that lean, dry character that balances the intense, aromatic side of Sauvignon which makes you really appreciate a glassful, and we unearthed a great example in the hills above Venice in Northern Italy a few years back.

Sauvignon Blanc, happily, does have other sites around the world where it performs very well and, while it may not manage to recreate the full-blown 'gooseberry and passionfruit’ attack you get in New Zealand, there’s often more than enough class and character to impress.

 

So, what to try? Until it was so firmly embraced by the Antipodeans, Sauvignon’s seat had been firmly in the Loire Valley and Bordeaux, both cool areas where the natural aromatics from this grape can really come to the fore. Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé are the obvious choices, but look to their lesser-known satellites, such as Menetou-Salon , for the slightly herby whites served in the bistros of Paris. It’s that lean, dry character that balances the intense, aromatic side of Sauvignon which makes you really appreciate a glassful, and we unearthed a great example in the hills above Venice in Northern Italy a few years back.

Fernanda Cappello Sauvignon, Friuli Grave

Basa Blanco, Rueda, Telmo Rodríguez

Another cool environment with a breeze that cascades down from the Dolomites, Fernanda Cappello makes a pretty, poised style of Sauvignon with an asparagus-y edge to it, a super supper-time white. Although the temperature is rising in European vineyards, that unlimited sun from the Southern Hemisphere is what tends to add the rich, tropical notes for which ‘NZ SB’ is now renowned. Hop across to South Africa and you’re starting to find something similar. We have been sniffing around the Cape for some time and were delighted to find a very easy, characterful wine from the coastal vineyards in the form of Kingklip Bay. There’s plenty of sunshine locked up in this wine, with a hint of green pepper and tomato leaf coming through. It’s a delicious lunchtime wine that has enough presence to work on its own too.

 

Moving away from the Sauvignon grape now and there are plenty of other options to offer that all important refreshing crispness and aromatic intensity. Head to Rueda in North-West Spain for Basa Blanco , by dynamic winemaker Telmo Rodriguez , which uses the traditional Spanish grape – Verdejo. Meanwhile in Austria, with its herbaceous, peppery notes, yellow fruits and wonderful tension, Grüner Veltliner is the ideal Sauv sub, one of our favourite producers is the mother and daughter team of Müller-Grossmann . Finally, there’s one of our favourite ‘go-to’ wines – Tanners Gascony – packed with freshness and exotic fruits, it leaves you yearning for the next glass!

Another cool environment with a breeze that cascades down from the  Dolomites, Fernanda Cappello makes a pretty, poised style of Sauvignon with an asparagus-y edge to it, a super supper-time white. Although the temperature is rising in European vineyards, that unlimited sun from the Southern Hemisphere is what tends to add the rich, tropical notes for which ‘NZ SB’ is now renowned. Hop across to South Africa and you’re starting to find something similar. We have been sniffing around the Cape for some time and were delighted to find a very easy, characterful wine from the coastal vineyards in the form of Kingklip Bay . There’s plenty of sunshine locked up in this wine, with a hint of green pepper and tomato leaf coming through. It’s a delicious lunchtime wine that has enough presence to work on its own too.

 

Moving away from the Sauvignon grape now and there are plenty of other options to offer that all important refreshing crispness and aromatic intensity. Head to Rueda in North-West Spain for Basa Blanco , by dynamic winemaker Telmo Rodriguez , which uses the traditional Spanish grape – Verdejo. Meanwhile in Austria, with its herbaceous, peppery notes, yellow fruits and wonderful tension, Grüner Veltliner is the ideal Sauv sub, one of our favourite producers is the mother and daughter team of Müller-Grossmann . Finally, there’s one of our favourite ‘go-to’ wines – Tanners Gascony – packed with freshness and exotic fruits, it leaves you yearning for the next glass!

KINGKLIP BAY SAUVIGNON BLANC, CAPE COAST

 

FERNANDA CAPPELLO SAUVIGNON, FRIULI GRAVE

 

BASA BLANCO, RUEDA, TELMO RODRÍGUEZ

 

MÜLLER-GROSSMANN GRÜNER VELTLINER, SATZ VIERTEL, KREMSTAL

 

MENETOU-SALON, MOROGUES, LE PETIT CLOS, JEAN-MAX ROGER

 

TANNERS GASCONY DRY WHITE, CÔTES DE GASCOGNE