There’s Kiwi Sav, and then there’s Kiwi Sav.

A slightly atypical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

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.

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About James

James Flewellen is a biophysicist at the University of Oxford. He has competed for the University in international blind tasting competitions and won several awards. In addition, James is a wine educator and wine writer, most recently co-authoring "The Concise Guide to Wine and Blind Tasting". He also writes for the international gastronome site "The Rambling Epicure", and can be contacted for wine consultancy and educational courses through the "Oxford Wine Academy".
This entry was posted in New Zealand, Suggested Wines, Wines by Region and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to There’s Kiwi Sav, and then there’s Kiwi Sav.

  1. Pingback: New Zealand highlights at the Decanter New World Fine Wine Encounter | The Oxford Wine Blog

  2. I’ve never even heard of Good Templar Sauvignon Blanc, and agree with you re homogenous winemaking techniques employed these days. Farmers have seen Sauvignon Blanc as a cash cow and now the herd’s coming home to bite them.
    There are some really great Marlborough producers producing some great wines still, you just have to make sure that the wines you buy are not wines made by chemists.

    • James says:

      They’re pretty small production, not sure about the distribution in NZ. Unfortunately, I don’t feel the ’10 vintage quite lives up to the ’09 I mention here, although I’ve only tasted it fresh off the plane – it might need some settling down time.
      Something I’d like to see in NZ is a legal framework putting quality control on wines that use the names of particular regions. Similar to the EU/French model. Sure there is bureaucracy and frustration, but ultimately I feel it is in our best interest for preserving our quality wine image (and profitability).
      NZ wine industry is still sufficiently small to implement this, and the more generic wines can still be made, under a more generic classification.
      We don’t want to go down the path of Australian wine…

  3. Andrew Talbot says:

    The 2010 vintage of Good templar is significantly drier than 2009, more reminescent of a sancere than a Marlborough. 13% is the volume for this year ! Still it is an amazing glass of wine, well balanced and a delight to drink with any salty type of food. The price inclusive of vat is £16.75p per bottle and will only be supplied by the case. The total cost per case therefore is £208.04p not a cheap wine but certainly a very good wine !

    • Adrian Lowe says:

      Hey Andrew

      Really interested where you’re getting this wine from… Can you please forward me a link, or let me know where I can buy it?

      Thanks
      Adrian

  4. Andrew Talbot says:

    The reason I know about this wine is that I supply it to my customers, As you are aware this particular wine is not mass produced. Limited quantity preserves the quality but sadly does affect the cost. However on the upside, who drives a rolls royce for the price of a mini ?

    Drop me an email and happy to supply a case or two if you wish.

    Also worth a mention here is a rather stunning Gavi. In fact several wines of distinction are supplied by myself.

    Best wishes

    Andrew Talbot

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