(2018) Yealands of Marlborough has become a well-known name in recent years, especially for Sauvignon Blanc, and there's a fun extra incentive to try this wine: buy a bottle before May 28th 2018 and you will find a unique code on a special neck collar. Enter that into the Yealands web site and you might just be one of four lucky people to win a trip for two to New Zealand, worth ┬ú10,000. That's all well and good, but what's the wine like? The answer, is really rather good. The requisite pea-shoot freshness is there, along with mango and lychee, but the tropicality is cut by lime. On the palate it presses all the Kiwi Sauvignon buttons, vibrant and juicy, loads of peach juice fruit and a sweep of acidity that gives this real zip and mouthwatering clarity too. It's a fine example showing a tad of restraint but no lack of personality. Watch the video for more details and food-matching ideas. Currently on offer at just ┬ú6.75 in Sainsbury's. Please note: the video lists Morrisons among the stockists, but that is incorrect. Also in some independent merchants.
(2017) This 2015 Marlborough Sauvignon is flamboyant aromatically, the ginger spice and elderflower joined by distinctly tropical fruit, not too herbaceous, but inviting. In the mouth that juicy peach and passion fruit tropical fruit core drives forward, the acid is keen but really nicely balanced, and a certain sense of fullness and richness gives broader appeal than some examples. The match here is a milk chocolate flavoured with elderflower and pear, the chocolate itself more subtly flavoured than some in the range, but its creaminess becoming truly opulent when nibbled with the wine, acid not too harsh against the flavour, and another lovely match. Price for a half bottle.
(2017) Vidal sources its Sauvignon Blanc fruit from Marlborough, from both estate-owned and contracted vineyards, primarily in the Wairau Valley "with a little Awatere fruit to give a little more tropical spectrum," says Hugh. Delicious nose, with lots of punchy passion fruit and tropical, lychee notes, plenty of peachy ripeness, and then the palate shimmers with acidity and so much intensity of flavour.
(2016) There have been many attempts to make reduced alcohol wines. It has to be said most are pretty abysmal, with all sorts of techncial trickery used to remove alcohol, unfortunately along with flavour and character. This from Dr. John Forrest is a bit different: he has used his scientific know-how and some "viticlutural secrets," to make a full flavoured and aromatic Marlborough Sauvignon that weighs in with just 9.5% alcohol. It captures the whole set of Marlborough Sauvignon's tropical fruit, zingy herbal punch and mouth-watering flavour. The merest sense of dilution in the finish is a small price to pay for those seeking more moderate alcohol levels. Watch the video for more technical details and food matching ideas.
(2015) A real bargain here for a Lidl own-label wine that is made for them by the excellent Yealands Estate in Marlborough. It captures all the elderflower and gooseberry pungency and energy of the variety, but tempers it with a clean, shimmering citrus freshness and savoury, dry acidity, giving it clarity and poise into a surprisingly long finish. Excellent at this price.
(2014) The aromatic thrust of this is herbal and herby, with lots of green bean, lots of gooseberry with a hint of the lychee tropical beneath. The palate has delicious thrust and orange juiciness, with delicious flavours and loads of peach and nectarine skin soft texture and freshness. A very good, dry expression of Marlborough at its best.
(2014) Pinot Grigio has become the by-the-glass wine for so many bars, pubs and restaurants that it can seem like an anonymous, generic white wine. But Pinot Grigio (aka Pinot Gris) can take on a more substantial form, and some producers are making striking examples. We are seeing more and more emanating from New Zealand with more flavour, texture and personality than more anodyne examples. This has a hint of pink to the colour (the skins of the Pinot Grigio grape become quite a deep red as they ripen late into the autumn) and the nose is deliciously inviting: it's like opening a can of tinned pears, with fruit and syrup notes, and a lovely feeling of freshness. In the mouth this is a wine with weight and texture. It is perhaps just off-dry, making it so easy to sip on its own, but also giving it broad food-matching potential.
(2011) Awatere. There's a lovely pear fragrance to this: fresh pears, but also a hint of a pear tart, pastry note, with a lift of almost spearminty brightness. The palate is pretty dry and relatively lean compared to a wine like the Saint Clair, with shimmering acidity set against tropical fruit tones of guava and mango - a more obvious nod to Marlborough Sauvignon style, but has lovely weight and definition.
(2011) Southern Valleys. 14%. Vineyard planted after comparing the Waihopai and Kremstal regions according to the back label. Much leaner and more mineral than the Forrest, with lime and a certain peppery, spicy character coming through. The palate has an uncompromising dryness, with great verve and authority, the dry, herby, mineral finish long and savoury. I'd love to see how this develops over a few years.