"I'm getting pretty sick of Oz wine people bagging Kiwi sauvignon blanc. You don't hear people over here dissing Oz shiraz. There are ordinary and great examples of both," - a tweet this week from Australian-born winemaker, Anna Flowerday, who runs Te Whare Ra in Marlborough. It neatly sums up the feelings of many in New Zealand's wine industry concerning the current wave of sauvignon-bashing from across the Tasman.
That these attacks are becoming so fierce and frequent illustrates just how threatened some in the Australian wine industry feel by the huge inroads our sauvignons have made into their market. However, the broad generalisations being expressed about the quality and homogeneity of our sauvignons are not only unjust, but easily disproved by a taste of examples from the likes of Dog Point, Greywacke, Mahi and Astrolabe, to name a few, highlighting the excitement and diversity in out flagship variety.
Though it's true some of the sauvignons of the surplus that flooded Australia off the back of the bumper but somewhat variable 2008 vintage may not have been the most thrilling, even our lowliest examples often manage to carry the distinctive Marlborough signature that's attracted drinkers in Australia and beyond. However, as the oversupply and the cheap sauvignon this has created dries up in the coming year, just how loyal Australian consumers are to our wines will become evident.
Drinkers can be fickle, as the Aussies discovered to their cost. However, they're not stupid and the disdain now being voiced so openly about the current tastes of their country's wine drinkers is arguably more detrimental to the industry than any threat posed by our sauvignons.
Jo Burzynska is Viva magazine's wine writer.