Sauvignon blanc and friends

Huon Hooke found several rippers in his latest sauvignon blanc and sauvignon/semillon blends tasting. (Photo: Total Wine website)

I do love a really good sauvignon blanc, although it’s fashionable to pooh-pooh this grape. The question to ask the knockers is: “What kind of sauvignon blanc is it you’re slagging off?” It could be a cat’s wee-scented, sub-AUD $10 Marlborough supermarket bottle, perhaps – but we should no sooner judge all sauvignon blanc by that bottle than to judge all British cars by the Leyland P76 (remember that?).

These wines have in common good concentration of ripe fruit, and some extra effort put into the winemaking, notably barrel fermentation and lees-work.

In my latest sauvignon blanc and sauvignon/semillon blends tasting, I found several rippers, some Kiwi, some Aussie. Michael Hall Piccadilly 2016, Catalina Sounds Sound of White 2016, Nautilus 2017, Mewstone D’Entrecasteaux Channel 2017, McHenry Hohnen Burnside Vineyard 2017, Clyde Park Fumé Blanc 2017, and Oakdene Jessica 2016 were all top-level. Among the blends, The Lane Vineyard Gathering Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2016 and Suckfizzle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2014 also scored highly.

These wines have in common good concentration of ripe fruit, and some extra effort put into the winemaking, notably barrel fermentation and lees-work. They are wines that don’t pall after a few sips. Indeed, they merit a second or third glass, and they won’t fall over quickly; indeed they will age well for several years in all likelihood.

Most of these brands will be known to readers, but a few may not. Mewstone is the wine of Tasmanian Jonny Hughes and his brother Matt, their vineyard located at Flowerpot in the Channel Country south of Hobart.

Michael Hall is a micro-boutique winemaker in the Adelaide Hills who has been making small quantities of bespoke Adelaide Hills and Barossa wines for some years. They’ve impressed me several times before. This wine is made from grapes sourced in the Piccadilly Valley, in the highest and coldest part of the Adelaide Hills.

Sound of White is the top label of Marlborough winery Catalina Sounds, a thoroughly beguiling interpretation of the ubiquitous sauvignon blanc. It’s a single-vineyard wine from the Waihopai Valley and is beautifully textured and intense as well as fragrant and delicate. And for a hi-fi version of the more straight-up-and-down Marlborough savvy style, with more depth of flavour and concentration than we normally find there, the 2017 Nautilus is a stunner.

2 thoughts on “Sauvignon blanc and friends”

  1. Mahmoud Ali says:

    I’m not usually keen on sauvignon blanc especially since so many are made in a style immitatiove of the aggressive NZ style that became so popular. However I am always ready to revisit them when a price of band interests me. An old bottle of State Lande from New Zealand was a revelation, and with age had developed a rich, broad palate that defied characterization – my friends were guessing chardonnay and semillon! However a Highfield SB a few years ago was so aggresively grassy and pungent that I opened another bottle of white and gave the second bottle away.

    Just today I decided to take a flyer on a Paracombe from the Adelaide Hills. I’ve had their riesling and ‘The Rueben’ so I’m hopeful.

    1. Mahmoud Ali says:

      Oops, the correct spelling is Staete Landt – and it was from the 2008 vintage.

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