An update on organic Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir from New Zealand. 98% of Marlborough vineyards are now picked by machines, such as the one pictured above courtesy of New Zealand Winegrowers Inc, te Pā. A version of this article is published by the Financial Times.

There’s something archetypal about Paris and Sancerre. I associate glasses of pale, searing, zesty, stony Sancerre with sitting in a bistro or on a pavement in the City of Light. So when I had the chance of a lunch on a sunny day in Paris between trains recently, a bottle of Vacheron’s 2019 Sancerre suggested itself.

But this wine, from one of the most admired producers in the appellation, wasn’t searing and stony. It was distinctly chubby. The Sauvignon Blanc fruit was clearly so ripe that one had to look hard for the wine’s trademark bracing aroma and refreshing acidity. In the glass was the effect of climate change. Recent summers in the Loire have been so hot that grapes reached record ripeness levels and therefore have relatively little acid.

I have been noticing the same phenomenon in virtually all young Sauvignons from the Loire recently: wines such as Pouilly-Fumé, Menetou-Salon, Reuilly and the white wines of Touraine. (As elsewhere, this year, 2021, marks an end to the run of heatwaves, but the wines won’t be released until next year and are likely to be in relatively short supply.)

So if you like your Sauvignon to be racy rather than rich, where should you look? Some fine examples are made all over the world – notably Bordeaux, Styria in Austria, the Pfalz in Germany and coastal Chile – but New Zealand, whose cool climate produces wines characterised by relatively high acidity, is an obvious source. Not least because 85% of the country’s highly successful wine exports are Sauvignon Blanc. (Wine seems to be allowed out of New Zealand even if few humans are currently.)

There was a time when all NZSB seemed to taste the same – almost violently pungent with some obvious sweetness – but considerable work on the part of the best producers has gone into refining the country’s most popular wine and some examples should suit those looking for bone-dry, minerally wines that may remind them more of Sancerre than aromatic fruit juice.


Organic NZ Sauvignons

Loveblock, TEE No Sulphur Added 2020 Marlborough
£21 Specialist Cellars

Read the full article here.

Jancis Robinson, (Oct 2021)