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The Rise & Rise of Sauvignon Blanc

 

It just so happened that I embarked upon my vinous journey as the Sauvignon Blanc juggernaut was thundering along at quite a lick. It was not hard for a young, fresh-faced whippersnapper developing a taste for wine to be seduced by the unashamedly pungent examples from Marlborough in New Zealand. In the heat of my love affair I drove ten miles late on New Years Eve to buy a bottle of Cloudy Bay from a confused looking French sommelier for £70 at the doors of a Five Star Hampshire hotel. These days I tend to walk by that particular label and the multitude of Murky Inlets, Turbid Estuary's and Manky Coves that now line the supermarket shelves. Perhaps the intensity of aroma and flavour became too intense and my, were they intense. So bold, so exciting, evoking the great British countryside. Stinging nettle, elderflower, goosberry and cat excrement. It all made sense sitting in a pub garden in early summer and what a relief after years suffering at the harsh, acidic hand and metallic crudeness of cheap, overproduced Chablis.And just where was France when all of this was going on? In the the hoopla surrounding new wave examples nearly everybody forgot about the Loire Valley and even regular wine drinkers failed to link the words Sancerre and Sauvignon Blanc. The same went for Bordeaux and the marvels of Sauternes where Sauvignon gets into bed with Semillon to procreate wine so scrumptious it makes Zeus' nectar taste like Blue Nun. Yet, for the consumer white Bordeaux, be it dry or sweet had no obvious link to Sauvignon Blanc. But since Cloudy Bay and all that followed it things have changed. Now we see the previously unthinkable, producers in the Loire Valley putting Sauvignon Blanc on their labels whilst over in New Zealand producers in Marlborough talk of 'terroir'. It appears as though The Sauvignon Blanc revolution has gone full circle and looks like it is ready to keep spinning and spinning.

With a view to writing this I endeavoured to rediscover the old magic, so I went off to purchase a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, lit a couple of scented candles and popped on the Barry White. The bottle I chose to take home was the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc from Ata Rangi, Martinborough, New Zealand. It captivates with aromas of crushed sea shells, a squirt of lime juice and tea tree oil. Nettley and dry with a delicate hint of passion fruit. Real substance harnessed by a stout, yeasty backbone.This stalks a line between the pungent, fruity examples of Marlborough and the more subtle, stony wines of the Loire. A triumph.

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