There’s a time, and place, for colloquial wine terms. Fine dining is not one of them.
Sauvignon blanc doesn’t age well, right? A noted producer of Adelaide Hills sauvignon blanc once put it succinctly, saying that old sauvignon blanc was about as interesting as old milk. Perhaps he had never tasted the Sancerre of François Cotat.
Slightly more than half the people who attend my wine courses don’t like Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. The rest love it. That helps explain the curious phenomenon that occurs when I offer them a young Sauvignon Blanc together with an older wine from the same producer. The wines are usually five or six vintages apart. I generally prefer the younger wine but the majority of students vote for the older vintage. I like Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc so I favour the pungent, intensely fruity characters of the more youthful wine.
To paraphrase the late Len Evans, there is an awful lot of sauvignon blanc out there, and there’s a lot of awful sauvignon blanc. So, let me lead you through the maze, as the bishop might have said to the actress. But seriously, there are
If I was allowed to drink only one type of wine for the rest of my life I would, without hesitation, choose Pinot Noir. It’s the world’s most seductive, silkiest, captivating and food-friendly wine. The really good news is that New Zealand makes great Pinot Noir. But wait it gets even better … you can buy good Pinot Noir at under $25. Yes, you may have to pay a little more to buy great Pinot Noir, but this wine not only offers great quality, it can also represent terrific value.
What do I drink after tasting over 100 samples of Sauvignon Blanc from the latest vintage? This year I opted for a glass of 2012 Villa Maria Southern Clays Sauvignon Blanc. My top wine tasted even better with freshly shucked Toi Point oysters garnished with a squeeze of lime.
France makes some of the world’s greatest wines … and some of the world’s worst. For the uninitiated French wine can be a minefield of expensive disappointments. With a little care, however, you can enjoy great wines with character and affordable prices.
Clos Henri Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2008 – $29 French winemaker, Henri Bourgeois, makes fantastic Sauvignon Blanc in his home base of Sancerre but established a winery in Marlborough to see if he could repeat his success here. He has. This gently aromatic wine is pure Marlborough
‘Minerality’ is the latest buzz-word in wine-speak. It’s reached plague proportions, but only relatively recently in Australia, despite having been widely used in Europe for a long time. Writers and winemakers who never before uttered this word, now routinely describe wines as ‘minerally’, or possessed of some arcane quality known as ‘minerality’. But ask winemakers, sommeliers or spruikers what they mean by this word and they often flounder. We’re left feeling as though they themselves don’t know. In other words, it’s just another important-sounding word that wine-wankers sprinkle through their verbage to make it seem authoritative.
On a recent trip to London I asked eight taxi drivers to name the first New Zealand product that came into their head. Five said “Sauvignon Blanc”, two said “the All Blacks” and one said “apples”. Forget about butter, wool and lamb – Sauvignon Blanc is the best known New Zealand product in London and many other parts of the world.