(2022) From dozens of Marlborough wines tasted from the 2020 harvest there is no doubt it's a top vintage, rightly being touted as such. This lovely Sauvignon is much more about ripe and juicy peach and nectarine than anything more aggressively herbaceous, with just a background hint of elderflower and gooseberry. In the mouth that ample juiciness of fruit continues, but the thrust of pink grapefruit and Seville orange sharpens the whole picture up into a dry, and long, finish. Mouth-watering and excellent.
(2022) Most of the 70% Sauvignon Blanc component was fermented in steel, with small proportion of the Sauvignon and all of the Semillon fermented and matured in new French oak for eight months. In bottle now for almost eight years, this is cracking stuff, still herbal, grassy, vibrant and vivacious, there's a sense of exotic and opulent passion fruit, but the palate streaks with limey, textured creaminess. Plenty of zesty acidity slices through the finish in a lovely wine, akin to a white Bordeaux, but with the expressive dial turned up to 11 - and no hurry to drink either.
(2022) Always a delightfully well-balanced Chardonnay, this has only 12 5% alcohol. It is fermented in French oak (25% new), spending an additional 12 months in oak with regular lees stirring. Mealy and gently honeyed on the nose, there's a touch of hazelnut and biscuit, and a ripe fruitiness beneath. There's a very nicely judged flinty quality too, that is also evident on the palate, giving extra freshness. Along with lemony acidity that gives decisive bite to the sweet, fleshy peach fruit. What a lovely wine once again.
(2022) Part of the Riverby range, but not carrying the Riverby Estate label because it is not made from estate-grown fruit. Its a tremendously decadent wine, heady with winter jasmine, lychee and Turkish delight aromas, then full, oily and rich on the palate. The flavours have that exotic profile, nectarine, mango, a bittersweet kumquat or blood orange, then a resounding blast of acidity that brings this to a dry, mouth-coating finish.
(2021) A year older than the Left Field example, and substantially deeper in both colour and aroma. There is some straw and hay-like character here over apricot and pear. In the mouth much more exotic and unctuous than the Left Field, guava and scented, super-ripe Ogen melon, lots of tang and orangey vibrancy to the acidity too. A bit of a show-stopper for the often reserved Albariño.
(2021) A year when poor weather during the early part of the season resulted in reduced crops, but a fine and warm mid- and late season meant a smaller yeild of very high quality fruit from these Wairau River vineyards. Made primarily in stainless steel, approximately 4% was fermented at warmer temperatures in old French oak barriques and large format oak vats. Quite widely available. A particularly fruity passion fruit and gooseberry opening here, and while there is some elderflower pungency, it sits just behind the punchy fruit. In the mouth there's plenty of fruit sweentess and irresistable nectarine juiciness. It feels like a particularly concentrated vintage of the Sauvignon Blanc, the cool salty and lemony acidity providing good support and thrust. Could well be an example that ages rather well.
(2021) A single vineyard Chardonnay from vineyards on gravel and silty soils in Marlborough, vines were planted in 2000 and the wine is whole-bunch pressed, with half fermented with wild yeasts and half inoculated. It spent 10 months in barriques and larger barrels of French oak, 35% new and around 40% went through malolactic. Pale straw in colour and a lovely creaminess to the aroma, nutty too, with a lightly oxidised caalmond even a hint of hazelnut, as well as some flint. In the mouth cool lemon meets ripe apple, a leaner style here, but there is mid-palate fruit ripeness without a doubt, and it is really very well done.
(2021) A really attractive Sauvignon this, passion fruit and gooseberry, and a hint of substance with melon skin and lemon rind grip. Grapefruit floods the palate, just hints at a more tropical, ripe smoky guava character, then chalky mineral acidity gives a wonderfully fresh and zingy finish.
(2020) There's normally around 7% oak fermented wine in Cloudy Bay, but this year was so good that it was pulled back to 4% to showcase the fruit. There is pea shoot and fresh leafy green herbs, a touch of elderflower, but also peachy, ripe and quite exotic fruit. The palate has beautiful balance, with arguably less 'aggression' than a brand new Marlborough Sauvignon might exhibit, a beautiful purity and focus, grapefruit and orange, and a long, shimmering finish of lime peel and salts. A very good Cloudy Bay this.
(2020) I was lucky enough to visit this new operation just before lockdown, led by the hugely experienced Steve Smith MW, ex-Craggy Range and Villa Maria, along with his US business partner. A very premium Sauvignon Blanc from 25-year-old vines in the Wairau sub-region of Marlborough, it's a wonderfully expressive, aromatic and decidedly opulent take on the NZ Sauvignon formula. The nose is flooded with ripe, juicy peach as well as the distinctive but subtle top notes of grass and elderflower, not too green, but vivacious. On the palate there is lovely texture here, real concentration sometimes missing in lesser examples, and that all-encompassing ripeness of peach, mango and exotic lychee, but all the time balanced by its sheer acidity into a long finish. A terrific Sauvignon Blanc. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.