If you've been hiding under a rock for the past week or so you would have missed the news that The Ned Sauvignon Blanc 2011 by Marisco Vineyards won the International Trophy for Best in Show Sauvignon Blanc Under £10 ($19.60) at the Decanter World Wine Awards in London. This is good news for two reasons. One, it is a super-tasty, very finely made sauvignon packed to the cap with passionfruit, crisp citrus and classic herbal characters; and two, you can pick it up for next to nix in supermarkets and liquor stores everywhere. The Ned was the only New Zealand wine to win one of the 28 international trophies and, believe me, it's no cakewalk getting hold of one.
The Decanter World Wine Awards, which attract more than 14,000 entries from around the world, are judged by 200 international wine experts. The Ned clawed to the top spot, past 500 other sauvignon blancs.
"Because the UK is such a traditional market, and so important to our business, this win is priceless," says Marisco owner Brent Marris. "It will put us in a very strong position for selling the 2012 vintage there."
Speaking of 2012, I wrote last week that I'd tasted my first 2012 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (Villa Maria Private Bin) and if that wine was anything to go by then things looked really positive. Well, I've just finished three days of judging at the NZ International Wine Show (including the sauvignon blanc class) and, of the 23 gold medals won by sauvignon, "a huge proportion, 21 in fact, are from 2012", says competition organiser Kingsley Wood.
At the Speigelau International Wine Competition a fortnight ago, over 58 per cent of the gold medals awarded to sauvignon blanc were from the 2012 vintage, totally reinforcing the talk that for sauvignon at least, the 2012 Marlborough vintage was pretty darn fantastic.
But wait ... there's more.
One of my absolute, all-time favourites will never appear on the podium because the thought of entering just isn't on its producer's radar. Since 1984, Te Mata Estate in Hawke's Bay has been producing Cape Crest, a sauvignon blanc which is fermented in oak barrels with a splash of semillon and, latterly, a squirt of sauvignon gris.
Recently, I attended a vertical tasting of this wine and we went back as far as 1996 and right up to 2011.
Those who'd firmly believed sauvignon blanc cannot be cellared were given a right serve as the '96 still showed delicious, preserved lemon and creamy, tropical notes, good acidity and there was even a hint of oatcake on the finish, which was long and dry.
Jumping ahead to the 2006 and jasmine, lemongrass and mouthfilling magic ensues. However, the 2007 Te Mata Cape Crest ($30) is sublime and then some. Delicious toasty notes on the nose combine with elderflower, freshly milled timber and crushed herb characters followed by a burst of white peach and lime and finished with harmonious, honeysuckle-like loveliness.
Delicate and minerally, with a seam of coconut and lime pannacotta running through the middle, the shiny new 2011, however, is destined for greatness (if you're disciplined enough to pop it away somewhere cool and dark and away from your pesky, persuasive friends.)