Sensational semillon and savvys

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc (Photo: Cloudy Bay Wines)

I’ve recently uploaded reviews of over 100 semillons, sauvignon blancs and blends of the two.

The bulk of the wines were either pure sauvignon blanc or blends – dominated either by sauvignon blanc or semillon – and my preferences can be split into two distinct groups.

Firstly, there are the pure-fruit styles, with no obvious oak or winemaking artifact. Marlborough really holds all the aces in this style, and three long-established and very consistent wines topped the scoring: Nautilus 2015, Cloudy Bay 2016 and Hunter’s 2016. These are superb wines, showing gorgeous depth of fruit flavour, concentration and balance. Their aromatics are not green but properly ripe, with tropical/passionfruit and lime/citrus characteristics to the fore.

Nautilus also fielded a new wine that I hadn’t tasted before, The Paper Nautilus 2015, a little dearer ($35 compared with $28 for the standard wine). This is a pretty smart attempt at a Sancerre style, with piercing acidity, lean profile and more restrained aromatics. It’s more chalky/mineral than tropical.

The second group were all Aussies and mostly blends. They showed barrel-fermented characteristics to varying degrees. Judicious oak adds aroma and flavour complexity as well as texture to these wines. They do not lack varietal fruit; they’re simply an alternative style and, to my palate, more interesting than most Australian pure-fruit styles.

They included Ten Minutes by Tractor 10X Sauvignon Blanc 2015, a ripper of a wine, the oak adding nutty, smoky, toasty nuances to the citrus and herb sauvignon fruit. Also Port Phillip Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2016; Domaine Naturaliste Sauvage Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2014; Levantine Hill Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2015; Flowstone Sauvignon Blanc 2014; Medhurst Sauvignon Blanc 2015; Larry Cherubino Sauvignon Blanc 2016 and Fraser Gallop Parterre Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (the last two more strongly oaked).

I also enjoyed these, which did not entirely fit either group: the fruit-driven Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2016 and the slightly funky Stella Bella Sauvignon Blanc 2016.

What all of these wines have in common is quality – and the fact that they’re fridgeable whites which will drink well throughout the summer, with or without food.

2 thoughts on “Sensational semillon and savvys”

  1. Huon Hooke
    Huon Hooke says:

    Thanks for your message, Mark. I haven’t seen Oyster Bay in my tastings recently, but I’m pleased to hear it’s still delivering the goods. As you are probably aware, Bob and I aren’t concerned about overlap: we both review the wines of the world, just with a natural emphasis on our own countries.

  2. Mark Hubbard (@MarkHubbard33) says:

    Interesting reading your views of wines in Bob’s territory, Huon. And living in Marlborough, myself, (because Mrs H and I love wine), can’t disagree with your top three, although I still have a soft spot for Oyster Bay’s Sauv (all vintages) and it’s normally possible to pick up in supermarkets here around NZ$15.

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