Following on from last week’s five soothing Sauvignon Blancs for lockdown and beyond, we bring you another handful of brilliant wines based on this popular aromatic white grape.
As previously reported by db, this selection comes from the latest Global Sauvignon Blanc Masters, which sees Sauvignon-based wines from all around the world judged ‘blind’ by expert tasters – which means that they have no prior knowledge of the samples’ source.
While the last set of five Sauvignons featured more affordable wines, this collection contains some pricier and more ambitious wines, including barrel-fermented samples, and a Sauvignon Blanc blend.
It also takes in a range of countries, from Sauvignon stalwart producing places such as New Zealand and France to more unusual origins for this grape, such as Germany and Italy.
St. Michael-Eppan Winery, Alto Adige Sauvignon Sanct Valentin 2018
While you might expect New Zealand to feature in any line-up of great Sauvignon Bancs, you would probably be surprised to see Italy in there too.
And so were the tasters in the Global Sauvignon Blanc Masters 2019 when it was revealed that one of the top scoring samples was from the St. Michael-Eppan Winery in Italy.
Taking its fruit from the high-altitude vineyards of the Alto Adige – an area that covers the foothills of the Dolomites – this was a wonderfully refreshing Sauvignon bursting with fresh and juicy pink grapefruit flavours, and a touch of bitter citrus peel, giving bite to this textured white.
While the wine isn’t cheap, it starred in its class, and has been considered among Italy’s cognoscenti as the nation’s best Sauvignon Blanc.
Marisco Vineyards, The Craft Series, Pride & Glory Sauvignon Blanc, 2015 Marlborough New Zealand Gold
If you love Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, then Marisco Vineyards should be a go-to producer for sating your desire for fine, zippy whites from New Zealand. Founded by talented winemaker Brent Marris, it’s the umbrella company for well-known Marlborough wine brand The Ned, but also includes a suite of labels such as Leftfield Station and The King’s Series.
While all his labels are home to class-leading wines at a range of price points, our lockdown recommendation centres on his upper most set of drops, collectively known as The Craft Series. And within that, a Sauvignon Blanc called Pride & Glory. Using grapes from the warmest sites of Marlborough, this is a rich, textural style of Sauvignon Blanc, so you don’t expect green flavours such as lemon grass and gooseberry, but juicy fruits from passion fruit to peach. And, because a portion of the wine has been fermented in an oval oak vat, this Sauvignon also has a gently creamy and nutty element too, adding delicious complementary characters to the ripe fruit.
Domaine du Grand Mayne Reserve Sauvignon/Sémillon 2016
With Sauvignon Blanc being such a famous grape, most producers like to sell it on its own, rather than blend it with other varieties. But Sauvignon Blanc can be used to create fantastic white wines when blended with other varieties. Among a range of grapes, the most common partner for Sauvignon Blanc is Semillon, and it is the combination of these two varieties that’s be basis for Bordeaux blanc – the delicious, fine white equivalent of the red blends of this famous French appellation.
Such wines, particularly when hailing from Bordeaux sub-regions Graves and Pessac-Leognan, are barrel-fermented and aged, similar to white Burgundy, to create rich and age-worthy white wines.
Top Bordeaux blancs can be extremely expensive, but, because our recommendation falls outside the boundaries of this famous region – it hails from the nearby Côtes de Duras – it’s relatively affordable.
Made like a great Graves, Domaine du Grand Mayne Réserve is a blend of Sauvignon and Sémillon that has been aged in new French oak, ensuring it has a subtle vanilla character, along with the grape-sourced flavours of pineapple, peach and a touch of green pea.
Ziata Sauvignon Blanc 2018
When it comes to richer, riper styles of Sauvignon Blanc, then California is a good place to go, and for finer expressions, the state’s famous Napa Valley in particular. So it was pleasing to find out that one of just two Masters awarded in this year’s Sauvignon Blanc competition went to a wine from Napa.
This brilliant Sauvignon Blanc is called Ziata, after Mary Annunziata, who was the grandmother of the wine brand’s founder, Karen Cakebread. Using grapes from a range of sites across Napa – and one in neighbouring Sonoma – it has layers of fruit flavours depending on the conditions of the vineyards where the Sauvignon is grown. This lends the wine a wonderful mix of characters, from peach and passion fruit to orange and grapefruit, ensuring it has some weighty textural mouthfeel, along with the classic citrus zip that makes Sauvignon so refreshing.
Weingut von Winning Sauvignon Blanc 500, 2018
Having mentioned that this year’s Sauvignon Blanc Masters featured two Master-winning wines, it’s only logical to list the other – and hence our final sample in this snapshot is the second of our top scorers.
This particular wine certainly surprised our judges this year, who didn’t expect a Sauvignon of such quality to hail from Germany, a land of course most famous for Riesling.
Called Sauvignon Blanc 500, its name references the 500-litre barrels used to ferment and mature the wine. Coming from the country’s relatively warm Pfalz, a region better known for cherry-scented Pinot Noir, it was a wonderful wine with a broad array of fruit characters, from peach to citrus peel, and a touch of toasty oak.
In short, it was round, rich, expressive, and refreshing – and somewhat apt that it came from a winery called Winning.
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