(2019) How confusing that Majestic now offers three prices for this wine, ranging from £12.99 down to £8.99, depending on how many you buy and how often you buy it. Life used to be so simple. A pink made from Pinot Noir, it has a peachy colour and just slightly confected character on the nose. In the mouth there's some sweetness and plenty of summery fruit, to make it easy drinking (if a touch cloying for me). This is crowd-pleasing, but no £12.99's worth.
(2019) What hellish thing is this I have before me? A pink Sauvignon Blanc from Malrborough, bottled in Alsace for an Australian drinks brand. I can only guess the colour comes from blending in a little Pinot Noir or other variety local to Marborough. Quite pale and delicate in hue, it's exactly what you might expect: pungently and vivdly Marlborough Sauvignon, but with a little added dimension of red berry fruit. In the mouth plenty of lemon and lime punch, a little grassiness, a little sweetness too, a pulpy strawberry touch just in the finish that is otherwise dry. If you accept that it is a totally manufactured artefact, cynically fusing together the two crazes for Sauvingnon and rosé, then I cannot deny it is punter-friendly, has unusual personality for a pink, and the total not as dreadful as the sum of its parts.
(2019) There are a bunch of really good Marlborough Sauvignons hovering around that £13 to £15 pound mark that are dry and more intense than many cheaper variants, and this is one of them. Clean, fresh, only lightly touched by herbaceous blackcurrant leaf and elderflower, more focused on citrus and lemongrass aromas, a touch of lime zest too. In the mouth much more linear and tightly framed than more flamboyant examples, dare I say it, a little more European in style, mouth-watering grapefruit and saline acidity driving the crystaline nature of the wine into a long, savoury finish.
(2019) With 190g/l of residual sugar, this is a fully sweet, Botrytis-affected dessert wine, which comes in a half bottle. Fermentation and ageing was in a combination of new and old French oak barrels. Light gold in colour, gentle Botrytis aromas without any overt Sauvignon character. The palate is glycerine-rich, with plenty of honey and lime marmalade flavour, some apricotty fruit too, then a clean, zesty finish of lemon and lime.
(2019) Though I strenuously avoid 'tall poppy syndrom' - taking a swipe at a best-selling wine, just because it is best-selling - there is still a tendency to overlook big selling brands and wines that appear to be consistent vintage after vintage, in favour of always seeking something new. Villa Maria are synoymous with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, and produce a number of different cuvées, so they do tend to the ubiquitous: it's rare to visit a major retailer and not see at least one of their wines on the shelves - and often at a promotional price. So how to honestly assess this vintage of the Cellar Selection SB? It's really very good: more in the tropical and ripe spectrum than out-and-out herbaceous, yet there is enough elderflower and pea-shoot character to pin-point its roots precisely. In the mouth the sweet, ripe fruit sits atop grapefruity acidity that is tangy and juicy, the wine has a bit of texture and mouthfeel too giving a sense of richness, and it is intense and vibrant. A model Marlborough Sauvignon, with style. £10.99 as part of a mixed six at Majestic. Watch the video for more information.
(2018) Matt Thomson is one of New Zealand’s most respected consultant winemakers, behind numerous top labels, and now he and his wife Sophie Parker-Thomson have established Blank Canvas, a premium label sourcing fruit from top vineyards, like this single-vineyard Chardonnay, fermented with wild yeast and aged in large French oak barrels, around 40% of which were new. It’s so appealing, with a flinty mineral edge to cool orchard and lime fruit, given creamy intensity from the barrels. In the mouth there’s an unabashed ripeness of fruit, edging from succulent ripe pear and apple into more tropical nectarine notes, buttery Brazil nut creaminess beneath, and zipping-fresh lemon and salts acidity. A serious, top-end example of Kiwi Chardonnay. On offer at time of review for £22.90.
(2018) What a fabulous showing for all of the wines in the Blank Canvas range I must say. From a single vineyard in the Waihopai Valley of Marlborough, a large proportion of this was fermented as whole bunches of grapes, with wild yeasts, before ageing in French oak barriques. What an aromatic Pinot Noir, floral and herbal, bright cherry melts into a subtle earthy and nutty note, then the wine powers onto the palate: it as its seductive side for sure, with juicy, dense fruit, but there is light and air in this picture too, an edge to the firm tannins and the acidity, spice and subtle truffle character, and then a pristine finish almost like a white wine with its cool focus and length. Seriously good Pinot Noir this, multi-faceted and delicious. On offer at £23.95 at time of review.
(2018) From a single block in the southern valleys of Marlborough, matured 10 months in French oak, around 30% of which was new. This is a deep and black-fruited style of concentrated Pinot, 14% alcohol testifying to its ripeness and richness. On the nose a touch of charred meat, savoury dark fruit and, yes, just a glimpse of something more perfumed and floral in the background. On the palate it has a liquorice stripe of bittersweet fruit, tannin and crunchy acidity. The fruit develops nicely mid-palate to something more sweet and elegant. An impressive wine, that for me would be even better just reined-back slightly on oak, alcohol and extraction.
(2018) What a fascinating contrast with the Tinel-Blondelet Pouilly-Fumé also reviewed: that wine not short on vibrant personality, this one richly textured with a cool restraint, and yet each is beautifully expressive of its region and terroir. Partial ageing in older barrels has given this texture, but has not dulled the vivacious pin-sharp aromatics, gooseberry and a punch of pea-shoot freshness, and sweet nectarine fruit. The palate brims with exotic fruit, and yet there is fine acidity - not at all jarring - a natural concentration, and great balance. Will delight both classic European Sauvignon drinkers and fans of Kiwi exuberance in a clever marriage.
(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 £10,000. 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 £6.75 in Sainsbury's. Please note: the video lists Morrisons among the stockists, but that is incorrect. Also in some independent merchants.