By Rose Murray Brown MW
Today - Friday 7 May - is ‘International Sauvignon Blanc 2021’.
This grape variety is so popular we hardly need a reminder to taste more of it – but it is a great chance to highlight some favourites from across the world.
We apparently consume 155 million bottles of Sauvignon Blanc each year in the UK (which is more than the number of Prosecco bottles drunk annually over here).
Sauvignon Blanc has seen great sales growth of 20% in this last year, which indicates that it was clearly a stalwart pick-me-up for wine lovers during the lockdowns.
I tasted 12 wines from three countries well known for producing high class Sauvignon Blanc: South Africa, New Zealand and Chile. All three countries offer completely different Southern Hemisphere styles – so dust down the picnic blankets, chill the Sauvignon and pop one of these into your basket this summer:
Elgin, South Africa: PAUL CLUVER SAUVIGNON BLANC 2020 (13.5%) ***GOOD VALUE***
£13.55 Frontier Fine Wine; Great Grog; Noel Young Wines; Chesters winemerchants; Gerard Seel; Hedley Wright; Shenfield Wine Co
The Cluvers are masters at creating accessible affordable Sauvignon Blanc – and they have done it again in 2020. This is such a vibrant sleek juicy example with grapefruit and kiwi fruit nose, lime and apple mid-palate and finishes zesty and dry. To add complexity and depth they add in a dash of lightly oaked Semillon, use several different yeast strains and increased lees stirring.
Elgin, South Africa: TOKARA ELGIN RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2020 (13%) ***STAR BUY***
£20.90 Frontier Fine Wine
More proof that the old apple growing area of Elgin produces some of the Cape’s best examples of this grape. Tokara are a Stellenbosch winery who have a farm in Elgin. To add depth, they add 4% fermented and matured in 400 litre old barrels. Delicate nose, quite zippy and fresh with good acidity and refreshing lemongrass and apple fruit, creamy soft leesy mid-palate – bring out the summer oysters.
Western Cape, South Africa: KLEINE ZALZE FAMILY RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 (14%)
£17.79-£18.99 Matthew Clark; Simply Wines Direct
A zappy tropical herby Sauvignon Blanc from five different terroirs: 30% from Stellenbosch, 30% Durbanville, 30% Darling, 5% Elgin and 5% West Coast. Specially made with extra lees ageing – it smells of uncooked broad beans and tastes of bruised apples with rich dense fruit and a bitter finish. Completely unlike Kleine Zalze’s cheaper Sauvignons. Heavy bottle alert!
Marlborough, New Zealand: KELLY WASHINGTON ORGANIC SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017 (12.5%)
From clay-based soils in Marlborough’s Southern Valleys from close planted vines. Made using whole bunch, fermentation and ageing for 10 months on lees with a small percentage in old French oak. The result is very different than anything I have tasted from Marlborough. Rosepetal and ginger nose, sweet sour flavours with good acid line – it is a rather intriguing Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc – but not an easy aperitif wine.
Marlborough, New Zealand: TOHU AWATERE VALLEY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 (13%) ***STAR BUY***
£13.99 Ocado; Chiltern Wines; North & South Wines
Loved this Sauvignon’s grassy nose, zingy limey palate with a touch of spritz to freshen and good length. Classic Awatere style with its dry steeliness from the cool windier vineyards in this southern valley.
Marlborough, New Zealand: STONELEIGH SAUVIGNON BLANC 2020 (13%) ***GOOD VALUE***
If you are looking for an inexpensive Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc with upfront tropical fruit and zippy acidity, this Marlborough classic is remarkable value. It is certainly not the most exciting in the range we tasted, but it will have mass appeal as an easy-going aperitif.
Colchagua Valley, Chile: CASA SILVA ‘COOL COAST’ SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 (13.5%)
£14.38 Laithwaites; Field & Fawcett
From Paredones, Colchagua’s exciting new region just 6km from the Pacific. Plenty of cool seabreezes here means Sauvignon Blanc grows rather well. Loved its citric minerally palate with ripe ripe tropical fruit notes – plenty of fruit for your money – but sleek elegance too.
Leyda Valley, Chile: LEYDA MAREA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2020 (13.5%)
£14.42 Cockburns of Leith; Simply Wines Direct; Amazon
Leyda Valley’s Sauvignon Blanc is usually zippier with cooler pristine fruit – this is more like a fruit bomb. It competes with the New Zealand Stoneleigh example for its immediate fruit dominated nose and palate. Tropical fruit and coconut notes with plenty of sweet ripe fruits – a bit short on the finish for the price.
Leyda Valley, Chile: VINA MARTY GOUTTE D’ARGENT SAUVIGNON BLANC 2018 (13%) ***STAR BUY***
£17.95 Chiltern Wines
This was the most interesting Sauvignon in the tasting – smells of bread dough, rich intense green fruit palate with a sweet sour finish. No wonder it tastes different, Vina Marty have fermented this Sauvignon Blanc using Japanese sake yeast – and the result is unexpectedly good. Not an aperitif Sauvignon, this needs grilled fish or rich textured seafood.
Join Rose’s Meet the Rhone Winemaker Bastien Tardieu of Tardieu-Laurent virtual tasting in association with Raeburn Wines on Friday 28 May www.rosemurraybrown.com