December 3rd: Tohu Sauvignon Blanc

Tohu Single Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc review

Wine Advent Calendar December 3rd: Tohu Single Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc  2015

Where should I begin with whites, this being the first one of my 24-day Wine Advent Calendar countdown. I’ve plumped for Tohu Single Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015  because I love a bit of a back story.

I took the wine as a warm-up for a fizz tasting with pals. (See December 2nd). I knew my pals liked sauvignon blanc but I wanted to see if they could spot the grape if I blind-poured the wine into their glasses. To be doubly mischievous, I also poured them a glass of Sancerre to sip alongside.

So we had two sauvignon blanc wines – one from NZ, the other a classic Old World French style from the Loire Valley.

Did my pals spot the connection – erm no.  We had a smiley, happy face on one of the Tohu notes; the downside my pal thought it was Liebfraumilch and worth £6.50. Oops. Sorry Tohu. But my pals are still learning …. my gentle wine mentoring has some mileage in it yet!

Tohu Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc notes

Tohu Single Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc  2015

What is it: It’s a white. A classy one.

Where’s it from: Marlborough is on the north-eastern tip of New Zealand’s South Island. It produces over 75%  of the country’s wine, with sauvignon blanc making up about 85% of that output. The Tohu vineyard and winery is in the Awatere Valley. Find out more about Marlborough wines here.

I’ll tell you some more: I mentioned the wine has a back story.

Tohu Wines was launched in 1998 as the world’s first Māori-owned wine company.  Which is pretty cool.

This is the heart of Tohu’s values … “as a Māori company we have a Tohu Marlborough Sauvignon Blancstrong spiritual connection to the land, to our culture and a tradition of kaitiakitanga, guardianship of our natural resources”.

The spiral on Tohu’s labelling symbolises growth, life and the natural world in Māori culture. Find out more about Tohu wines here

The grape:  Sauvignon blanc, which claims France as its ancestral home.

What of the taste? Well Tohu’s own technical notes describe this wine as “a bright, luminous pale golden green in the glass, it displays aromas of current leaf, citrus and sweet tropical fruits on the nose” with “flavours of juicy fruit, herbal notes and a distinctive minerality”.

Anything else?: Yes. This is what I thought. It is a splendidly fruity and elegant wine with limes and passion fruit on the nose, and a clean, bright, tight, acidity that shivers the tastebuds.

It is gorgeously lip-smacking with uplifting flavours of citrus and a slither of upright minerality.

The small print: Its 13% abv and has an RRP from £13.99. The downside to this 2015 vintage is it’s not widely available to buy online. Saying that – a quick Google a couple of minutes ago and I’ve found it here at Kwoff (liking the name folks) at £14.99.

A 2012 vintage is available at Rude Wines for £14.02 and Rude also sells a Tohu riesling.


Torres Natureo ‘wines’ might help the Dry January blues

Torres Natureo Red low alcohol wine review

If you’ve managed to get this far into 2015 without touching a drop of alcohol, then well done. Not long to go now, my Dry January heroes. Soon you can have a February glass of something.

For those of you with a detox backbone, here’s a trio of wines, which aren’t wines any more. Let me explain.

The Torres Natureo range – white red and rosé – all started life as a wine. They were produced from muscat grapes (white) syrah (red) and a blend of syrah and cabernet sauvignon (rosé).

Torres Natureo low alcohol wine review
Torres Natureo low alcohol wines

They are made traditionally then de-alcoholised using a canny extraction system which, I’m told, “keeps all the grape’s aromas, antioxidants, vitamins and mineral salts, leaving only the barest trace of alcohol (0.5 per cent) and 25-35 calories in a glass”.

Torres Natureo White (RRP £5, ASDA, Waitrose, Ocado, Cambridge Wine Merchants, Noble Green, It is a pale yellow, with bright aromas of grapes, lemons and crisp green apples. When you taste, it squeaks a sweet-cheek lively slice of apples and limes which really starts your tastebuds watering. It’s a palate cleanser that’s for sure, but for some it might just be too sweet.

Torres Natureo Red (RRP £5.99, Waitrose, Hoults, Noble Green, smells of redcurrants squished and squashed on top of a vanilla cheesecake. It was a deep red fruit juice, such as a blend of pomegranate and cranberry; a liquidised fruit pastille. I really missed a backdrop of alcohol in this red; but with it, well it wouldn’t be Natureo would it.

Torres Natureo Rosé (RRP £5.99, Waitrose, The, Last Drop Wines, which is a light mauve. Red berries and blackcurrants hover on the edge of the glass. If you like your rosé sweet you will probably like this. I thought it was thin and lacking in substance.

In other news, I have a new fridge gadget, which delivers ice at the click of a button. I clicked and crackled some ice into each of the Natureo styles.

Torres Natureo low alcohol wines review
Try with a drop of ice!

The white was very refreshing; the red should make a nice base for a non-alcoholic icy fruit mocktail. The rosé remained unassuming.

Also in my glass…

It’s Australia Day on January 26 and our Aussie cousins will be enjoying the sunshine, lighting up the barbie and no doubt opening a good hearty Australian shiraz to mark the occasion.

So if you can’t beat them …. Wirra Wirra Catapult 2012 (RRP £14.50, M&S, Oddbins) is a deep red, sturdy and forthright, a no-messing Aussie shiraz.

Wirra Wirra Catapult Shiraz review
Wirra Wirra Catapult Shiraz

There’s plums on the nose, chocolate, chopped wood and a savoury whisper. It flits in the mouth from bursting red berries to spice and herbs. There’s a feather touch of floral viognier, as the winemakers have followed a wine-making style from the northern Rhone by adding a tiny percentage of the grape to the fermentation process.

Also from Wirra Wirra, an unoaked chardonnay. If you cast aside Aussie chardonnay because you think it is all over-oaked, then Scrubby Rise Unoaked Chardonnay (RRP £9.99 Tesco) should surprise. It is clean and bright, crisp and lemony, with undercurrents of peach and nectarine.

Wirra Wirra Mrs Wigley Moscato 2013 review
Wirra Wirra Mrs Wigley Moscato 2013

Then, finally, a frizzly sweet delight. Wirra Wirra Mrs Wigley Moscato 2013 is £7.99 from Ocado and I just love the name. Mrs Wigley was a pussy cat which made herself perfectly at home in the Wirra Wirra vineyards in McLaren Vale.

This is a take-it-easy January 4.5% abv and has wisps of roses, dried strawberry and flowers with a gentle melon and sherbert spritz. Close your eyes and wish away the winter.

Published in the saturday extra magazine January 24, 2015

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express