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Home Winners > Winners 2013 > VARIETAL CLASSICS: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Winner Details

Varietal Classics: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Positive feedback yet again here, with tasters enjoying the ‘typical’ cheaper wines and the more elegant examples around the £10 mark


There have been times in SWA when two teams tasting similar flights have reached very different conclusions. Well, not this time. The feedback from all the teams tasting the sub-£12 Kiwi Sav was almost identical.

The cheapest versions (astonishingly cheap, given the short vintage of 2012, which these nearly all were) were deemed quintessential Kiwi Sauvignon: tropical/asparagus flavours and a touch of residual on the palate. As obviously New Zealand as a rain-drenched kiwi riding a sheep.

Not everyone liked these offerings – ‘I’d rather drink tinned fruit salad,’ growled The Harrow at Little Bedwyn’s Roger Jones – but the teams all saw a commercial reason for stocking them, and a third of the medals went to wines sub-£7.

Moving upmarket saw a stylistic shift, with less fruit, less sweetness and more restraint. All very good; not much to complain about there, you might think, given the on-trade’s love of all these things.

Except that in quite a few of the wines, particularly between £7 and £9, there often wasn’t enough fruit quality to go with the new dialed-down style, resulting in wines that didn’t have enough of anything.

‘You can’t hide that NZ character – and why would you?’ asked The French Table’s Sarah Guignard

While the mid-price area might have been somewhat depressing, with the wines marooned between the tropics of ‘typical’ and ‘elegant’, above £9 there was something of a (no pun intended) sweet spot, with a good combination of elegance and ripeness – and it was a style that the tasters responded to positively.

‘The minerality started to show around £9,’ said Christophe Richelet from Viajante. ‘But at that price the wines often didn’t deliver enough. Once you get up to £10 the class is more obvious.’

Right the way through the medals this year our tasters found examples of each style, and the final Gold List would have featured an exponent of each. As it was, while the well-priced Invivo was a classic in-your-face Kiwi Sav, the wine our tasters chose for the more elegant, minerally style was discovered at the results-processing stage to be available in Majestic, so it was disqualified. Shame, but rules is rules…

‘At the cheaper end, it’s not complex, but it is typical; the top end has a lot more going on. It’s in the mid-price area where there are problems.’
Alex Sergeant, The Harwood Arms

‘Some of the top wines were more like Sancerre; they had those hints of white pepper and minerality.’
Marco Adreani, The Pass at South Lodge