NOW and again there’s some pain I put myself through to write this column, let alone being stabbed by corkscrews.
But tasting extraordinary 2012 sauvignon blancs has certainly not been one of those occasions. Let’s start with a new selection from the Wine Society.
It has packaged a New Zealand sauvignon blanc case which the society believes to be “the purest and most precise examples of Marlborough sauvignon”. (It includes 12 bottles at £136, details from www.thewinesociety.com)
Pierre Mansour, the society’s buyer for NZ, says: “The relatively cool year produced naturally low yields of fruit full of outstanding flavour, intensity and power, backed by a fine line of refreshing acidity.
“ Importantly the harvest produced grapes rich in the classic tropical fruit flavours that we all love about good Marlborough sauvignon blanc.”
Here’s thoughts on two of them.
Stoneburn Sauvignon Blanc, 2012 (£7.25, abv 13%): The vineyard is on an old riverbed so the stones retain warmth, cradling the grapes.
This wine has a clean, powerful nose with the sweet smell of freshly-cut grass from the first “gardening” weekend of Spring. It has sprightly gooseberry but with the subtle dryness of a newly-chopped green pepper. Delicious.
The Society’s New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (£8.95, abv 13%) is pale lemon tinged with green, and grapefruit and lime combine on the nose to give the enticing senses-thrill typical of sauvignon blanc. It has pronounced stone fruit flavours which linger after a burst of acidity.
Villa Maria, one of New Zealand’s largest producers, makes The Society’s New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
The estate has its own stunning contribution to my missive, with Villa Maria Reserve Wairau Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2012, (RRP £13.99, Majestic Wine, abv 13%).
A short-lived shivery zing typical of young wine releases aromas of passion fruit and gooseberry with a flinty edge.
From a distant place, blackcurrant haunts, as if someone had walked past me with a newly-picked punnet – but I couldn’t quite see where they’d gone.
This wine spent a short time on the lees which brings complexity and adds a softness of touch to the pronounced tropical and grassy flavours.
Rockridge Sauvignon (M&S, £5.99 from £7.99 until January 27, abv 12%) is from South Africa where the grapes were harvested from low yielding bush vines in the coastal region. It has a crisp, fruity, dry character with green fruit and green peapod-sweet aromas.
To taste, it reflects the gentleness of pears and melon rather than the New Zealand hit-and-crisp pin-brightness of citrus fruit.
Grapes grown in Chile can be found in Tierra y Hombre Sauvignon Blanc, 2012 (also M&S, reduced to £5.99 until January 27, abv 12.5%).
It does not have a gooseberry “hit” like its NZ cousins, but is softer on the nose with herbs and wild grass and – possibly from the Pacific air – a hint of dry saltiness. It is easy-drinking with in-the-mouth dryness of gooseberry skins.
Finally, if you take your sauvignon blanc via the recognisable brand Casillero del Diablo, then you may like to know that its Sauvignon Blanc 2011 – also from Chile – is reduced from £7.99 to £5.99 until February 5 at Co-op stores.