There’s New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and then there’s New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc took the markets, and critics, by storm several decades ago now. It was to be the catalyst for huge growth in the burgeoning New Zealand wine industry. Since then, the “Kiwi Sav” has matured into a huge global wine force, with NZ Sauvignon Blanc flooding world markets, sparking debate on oversupply, quality control and market saturation.
To my mind, one regrettable side-effect of this explosion has been to formulate a generic flavour profile for New Zealand Sauvignon. While I am a believer in the concept of terroir, and that wines should reflect a regionality and a relationship with their environment, I feel that this rather generic flavour profile is one that too many producers adhere to in the quest to produce something homogeneous that suits this new global brand.
This classic ‘flavour profile’ I’m mentioning has the NZ Sauvignon with a purity of sharp green fruit. Green apples and gooseberries. There is a razor-like acidity, medium body and generally fairly high alcohol for a white wine (13%-13.5%). Yes, herbaceousness and a certain ‘grassy’ quality are often present, albeit on the edge of a fruit-dominated flavour profile.
A New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc that deviates from this is thus rather refreshing!
Good Templar Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, 2009 is a little bit different. In the glass the wine is a very clear, very bright, medium straw colour. On the nose there are the classic green apples and gooseberries, however they take second string to a vivacious herbaceousness. Tomato leaf, wild grass, and a little cooked asparagus. I noted a slight ‘oiliness’ – a petrochemical aroma – in the background too.
On the palate, the wine has a sharp acidity and medium body (a fuller body than other global Sauvignon Blanc growing regions is often typical in a Marlborough wine). This wine has a rounded texture; it rolled around the mouth, feeling fuller-bodied than what it actually is. Riper apples came through in the mouth, along with (surprisingly) tomato fruit. The alcohol was very well balanced; at 12.5% it is nice to see a Kiwi Sauvignon with a slightly lower alcohol content. The finish was fairly long, with tomato flavours reminiscent across the palate.
I’m well aware that the realities of growing grapes in New Zealand mean that many vineyard owners must put making a living ahead of making a particular wine that stands out from the crowd. Yet, it is pleasing to see that some unique wines do filter through and can even make it over to the UK.
Good Templar is imported by Shawbury Vintners, UK. I think it retails for around £13/bottle.