For centuries, the Loire Valley in France was the only place to find quality Sauvignon Blanc. Then, in the 1980’s, the Kiwis came a calling.
From Marlborough, in the North East corner of New Zealand’s South Island came wines that were completely different to anything that had gone before. These wines, with their unexpected flavours of passion fruit, guava, lime and asparagus, wowed the world and New Zealand was immediately catapulted to the front rank of wine producing nations and, for the first time, France had a serious Sauvignon rival.
Key to New Zealand’s startling Sauvignon success was Kevin Judd. Modest Kevin was the originator and chief winemaker, for 25 years, at New Zealand’s most famous winery, Cloudy Bay, and is often described, though not by himself, as the man who put Marlborough on the world wine map.
In 2009, after leaving Cloudy Bay, Kevin launched his own solo winemaking venture and called it Greywacke after discovering a high prevalence of rounded greywacke river stones in the soils of his first vineyard in the Rapaura region of Marlborough.
The Greywacke wines display all the hallmarks of Kevin’s famed style: ripe fruit, fine balance, great concentration and superb varietal intensity and I really can’t recommend them highly enough. Kevin has now broadened his range to include Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir but it’s his two superlative Sauvignons that I’d like to focus on today.
Take my advice, if you’re a Sauvignon fan, it’s worth treating yourself because Sauvignon Blanc just doesn’t get better than Greywacke.
Greywacke Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015 £ 17
Fruit was sourced from various prime vineyard sites in Marlborough’s Southern Valleys and the central Wairau Plains, specifically in Woodbourne, Renwick and Rapaura.
Although the yields were much reduced in 2015, the grapes, as a result of a warm dry summer, were harvested in excellent condition.
In the winery, the juice was fermented in stainless steel tanks, primarily using cultured yeast with a cool, slow fermentation. A portion was allowed to undergo spontaneous indigenous yeast fermentation using slightly warmer fermentation regimes. All individual vineyard batches were kept separate until late July, when the blend was assembled and the wine was bottled in mid-August.
Kevin’s tasting notes:- A vibrant mix of nectarines, yellow peaches and cassis combines with the bright fragrance of lemon zest laced with musky, jasmine-like floral nuances. The palate is packed with ripe stone fruit, melons and mandarin creating a succulent tropical-fruited style with that classic Marlborough zing.
Greywacke Marlborough Wild Sauvignon Blanc 2013 £ 25.50
Fruit was sourced from various vineyard sites in and around the Brancott Valley and the central Wairau Plains, specifically in Woodbourne, Renwick and Rapaura.
Summer 2013 was perfect in Marlborough as the days were sunny and dry without excessive heat. Intermittent rainfall ensured that the region avoided the drought experienced by much of New Zealand.
The grapes were pressed relatively lightly and the resulting juice was poured into old French oak barrels. The juice was allowed to undergo spontaneous indigenous yeast fermentation, the tail end of which continued for well over six months.
Kevin’s tasting notes:- Fermented entirely with naturally occurring yeast, this is an alternative style of Sauvignon Blanc that is both intricate and textural. An inviting combination of fragrant patisserie-like aromas and fresh herbs – the sweet scent of lemon meringue and apricot friand seems to meld with a tarragon-like herbal quality and a hint of smokiness. The palate is succulent and packed with stone fruit and vanilla, finishing crisp and long with a flinty dryness.