THINK sauvignon blanc and you probably think of gooseberries, vibrant newly-mown grass, green peppers or passion fruit.
No doubt you think of New Zealand too, even though the historical home of sauvignon blanc is France; the wines of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume more restrained than the teasey-squeezy-cheeked Kiwi versions.
Though perceptions are there to be changed.
Several months ago I met Kevin Judd, the winemaker who made Cloudy Bay one of the most distinctive brands in NZ. He has since set up on his own and when I tasted his Greywacke Wild Sauvignon 2011 I was blown away. (I Googled this week and found it at www.slurp.co.uk for £22.95, www.thewinesociety.com for £22.50).
This is a sauv blanc created via oak and wild yeast. It hums with cloves, smoky sage and creamy nectarines.
Last week brought another wow-amazing sauvignon blanc moment.
I met John Stichbury, fifth generation owner of the Jackson Estate in Marlborough NZ and his winemaker Matt Patterson-Green.
Yes, they were rightly proud of their Jackson Estate Stich Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (RRP £12.99, Ocado, Waitrose, Tesco.com, and Majestic).
Yes, signature notes of sauv blanc are there; elderflower, key lime pie, citrus. But there’s something else too, a smoothness and depth which can be missing from New World sauv blancs.
Matt told me: “The Stich style is textural, it doesn’t have the up-front aromas.
“We want the vineyard to come through – the vineyard and the region rather than any winemaker influence.”
Jackson Estate Grey Ghost Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (£22.50 Ocado, Majestic Tesco.com) is named after the 45-metre gum tree planted in 1867 by John Stichbury’s great grandmother.
John says of his estate “we are a leader rather than a follower” and with the Ghost you can’t argue with that.
The grapes are hand-harvested and fermented in 100 per cent French oak (which has already seen six vintages) with wild yeast. This isn’t just in-your-face sauv blanc. Zippy to the nth degree of zippy. There’s burnt-edged fruit on the nose, but also flinty, wet stone with rain-dipped lime leaves. To taste it’s creamy, lingering, rich stone fruit and herbs.
Enjoy the elegance and serve with English fish and chips. It’s what Jackson Estate recommends.
Published in the saturday extra magazine October 12, 2013