John Hawkesby

John Hawkesby is a wine writer for Canvas Magazine.

Wine: Start saving for sav

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Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

It was bound to happen sooner or later and, frankly, it's come sooner than I would have predicted. New sauvignon blanc at $80 a bottle.

Now, any casual consumer will tell you perfectly acceptable sauvignon can be found on special at your local supermarket for less than $10 - so has Pernod Ricard's chief winemaker, Patrick Materman, had a rush of blood to the head or is their marketing department on steroids?

Neither, as it turns out, but rather a secretive, well-planned project to create the first limited release of a super-premium sauvignon handcrafted from exceptional grapes carefully scrutinised and selected from chosen premium rows on Marlborough's Brancott Vineyard.

As Materman says, "We have some of the best sauvignon blanc in the world but it hasn't commanded high prices."

To create a sauvignon with stellar prestige, Materman began questioning, in the late-90s, the traditional use of oak.

"We wanted to find out if in some instances we were dumbing down the fruit ... and so we've created a sauvignon that's morphed into a more primary fruit character style and away from the traditional sweaty armpit-style.

"We're looking for texture and palate interest and to add layers of complexity - in the past our problem has been that Marlborough sauvignon blanc doesn't age well."

He has a valid point. For years, the mantra has been "drink early while it's lively and fresh and don't bother cellaring". That is all being turned on its head with this limited-edition release of 3500 individually numbered bottles which will be available from mid-April through selected retailers and the Brancott Estate cellar door.

The wine will be made only in outstanding vintages. "We're looking beyond just aromatics and want an ageworthy style," says Materman.

So how is this new Rolls Royce-style sauvignon?

Pretty smart, but ultimately it's the consumer who'll decide if it's smart enough to cough up top dollar. According to public relations manager Cathy McKeown, they've presold a fair percentage already.


Recommended

2009 Brancott Estate Terroir Series Blanc de Blanc - $33

Beautiful bubbles at an excellent price.This is a limited release and usually available only at the Visitor Centre cellar door. This wine uses chardonnay grapes and offers up rich citrus, apple and peach flavours with a creamy, biscuit finish.

2010 Brancott Estate Chosen Rows Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc - $80

Wonderful visual clarity in the bottle with funky, herbaceous, restrained wet stone aromas and understated textural flinty complexity. Classy and compelling ... so chance your arm.

- NZ Herald

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