My morning newspaper, the International Herald Tribune, carried the other day an article summarising the tasting of 25 Sauvignon Blanc wines from New Zealand. Sauvignon Blanc is one of my most favourite white wines. The results were interesting. Only about 10 of the 25 wines found the approval of the tasting panel (it was a New York Times event of the dining section). For the judges, the tasting was a disappointment. They were looking for the bold, pungent refreshing SB but found that too many wines were dull, too sweet or simply wishy-washy or as Eric Asimov put it “commercially inoffensive”. My favourite SB from New Zealand, Cloudy Bay came up third (behind “Villa Maria” in number one position), described as “quieter than the top wines” but still “bold, zesty and delicious”. In my bottle shop in Jakarta it retailed for 40 US$ the bottle last week. Gone are the days when I had to pay only 18 US$ for this most delicious white.
Mr. Asimov is of the opinion that many producers have decided to push quantity at the expense of quality and that they are over cropping (too high yields per acre). I learned something else from the article: that in New Zealand wine producers are allowed to add sugar or acid to make up for “green” (not fully ripened) grapes, as we say. In Australia, we are not allowed to engage in this technique or should I say “manipulation”. Next time in the bottle shop it will be much easier for me to walk away from the dear SB from Marlborough and turn to some cool climate Sauvignon Blanc of Australian provenance. I might be enticed to make some Two Hills Sauvignon Blanc again in 2008. Kinloch Wines (www.kinlochwines.com.au) Sauvignon Blanc of 2006 is sold out, as I learn from their website. Guess who provided some of the fruit for this most delicious wine from the Upper Goulburn River (www.uppergoulburnwine.org.au)?