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 NEW WORLD: Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand

2017 Gold: 5 Silver: 6 Bronze: 10 Commended: 15
2016 Gold: 5 Silver: 8 Bronze: 6 Commended: 11

 

Along with Argentinian Malbec, prosecco and Pinot Grigio, Kiwi Sav remains one of the bedrocks of the wine list, whether in the local pub or fine dining. As such, margin is important – so it was good to see a couple of really well-priced Golds in such a commercial category.
The big discussion here, though, wasn’t so much value for money, it was style. Specifically, can you sell consumers into the ‘new’ variations of Sauvignon Blanc that are increasingly coming out of New Zealand: less aromatic and more textured, with lees work and barrel ageing.
The conclusion seemed to be that ‘yes you can’, provided you are careful, and that these new styles make for much better food-matching options. A good list, in other words, should have a basic ‘typical’ Sav, a more expensive ‘typical’ trade-up and one or two of the more food-friendly styles. All of which are on show here.

STAR PERFORMER

A massive ‘well done’ to Saint Clair, who took three of our five Gold Medals. We’ve never seen one producer so dominate the top medals in such a huge category.

FROM THE TASTING TEAMS

‘Some of these were deliberately made in a more restrained style, which was attractive. The world has moved on from wanting New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to be an in-your-face style, with passionfruit and guava.’ Annette Scarfe MW, team leader

‘We can introduce people to more styles, but it’s a slow process.’ Martin Lam, team leader

‘Overall the quality was quite good. The discussion was mainly about what people expect from New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.’ Raphael Thierry, Street XO

‘They were wines that you’d struggle to have a third glass of, but the better ones you’d have a second one.’ Simon Woods, team leader

‘It’s as popular as ever, our second best-selling wine. People know what to expect, and that’s what I like about it.’ Ivan Ruiz, Wright Brothers

‘A lot of the mid-priced Sauvignons fared very well compared to the more expensive ones.’ Scott Levy, Smith & Wollensky

‘It’s probably never going to be our recommendation, but customers order it themselves from the list. As it becomes more elegant, it is starting to be recommended again by sommeliers.’ Matthieu Longuère MS, Le Cordon Bleu London

‘I’m very impressed with the quality. I’m not sure whether you can sell New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc that’s aged in barrel though.’ Tanya Mann, Linden House Stansted