With Sauvignon Blanc our most widely planted and largest production variety, it is indeed very surprising that it was not until January 2016 that the first Sauvignon Blanc Conference was held in New Zealand. Particularly when you consider the varieties importance in overseas markets and the growth in NZ Wine exports.
So to Marlborough we headed, along with industry colleagues from 19 countries around the world. A total of 350 delegates attended this well organised event. I could not help but think, whilst sitting on a tiny Air NZ plane that Monday morning and looking around me, how different the industry would look without that plane load. Fortunately, we all made it safe and sound.
Like many arriving in Marlborough that bright summer morning, I would be remiss if I did not mention up front that I was a little apprehensive; how on earth could a whole week of Sauvignon Blanc keep me interested and would it indeed inspire? My concern was ill-founded and misguided; a glass of great Sauvignon is a special thing and by the end of the week, I was not only inspired, but delighted to have been involved in an excellent event.
Over the four days we tasted extensively, experienced Marlborough and showed the International guests there a whole heap of Kiwi hospitality. There were lots of tastings during these days which allowed us to taste through the wines of the 60 producers involved, including a Classics Tasting at which all 60 presented their classic style. Numerous wines stood out, including Man O War’s Gravestone 2013, the balance between the acidity and fruit weight the hallmark of this wine. Mud House’s single vineyard Sauvignon Woolshed is a very focused Sauvignon, driven with a saline linear note, it’s flinty and very precise; well made Mr Glover. Nautilus are on an absolute roll and the 2015 Sauvignon is in keeping; rich with an expressive mouthfeel, the texture is smart with a flinty dry finish. Blind River’s Sauvignon Blanc stood out; a more tropical, luscious style, this will be a real crowd favourite.
I did start this particular tasting with an excellent bench mark, Jules Taylor’s 2015 Sauvignon Blanc. Year in, year out, Jules produces an excellent Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc that is nothing short of utterly gorgeous and consistent. In a world of constant change, there’s something very comforting in knowing that Jules Taylor Sauvignon will be that same wine we love so much presented with a different vintage expression over it.