Posts Tagged ‘Zeeland’

Sauvignon blanc vines from Marlborough, New Zealand.

Sauvignon blanc vines from Marlborough, New Zealand.

 

Few words in the UK wine market provoke a reaction as polarising as “Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc”.

For a host of consumers those heady aromas of passion fruit, gooseberry and the entire spectrum of fruit salad ingredients in between act like catnip. Among others, however, including many in the trade itself, it is possible to detect a degree of fatigue with New Zealand’s hugely successful flagship style.

This latter camp saw its numbers swell when the bumper 2008 vintage saw shelves flooded with discounted stock. On top of oversupply came the observation from several corners that quality was slipping as fast as the prices. Just as this golden goose was starting to look decidedly wobbly on its feet, New Zealand’s producers regrouped, rallied and within just a few years have taken major strides towards revitalising the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc landscape.

At a mainstream level, the classic style is clearly going stronger than ever – just visit a UK supermarket and compare the shelf space dedicated to this single combination of variety and region with the area allocated to other entire countries. Against this backdrop of stability, however, many Marlborough producers have now identified an opportunity – a need even – to shake up the stereotype and show what else they can do.
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New research “empowers” sauvignon blanc producers.

It’s hard to believe that New Zealand sauvignon blanc didn’t exist before 1973. Local winemakers were more interested in turning out bulk-produced Müller-Thurgau. How times change.

Today, sauvignon blanc is one of the country’s major exports, along with lamb, Flight of the Conchords and “The Lord of the Rings.” The aromatic varietal represents four out of every five bottles of wine that leave New Zealand shores. With such a reliance on this cat’s-pee-in-a-gooseberry-bush grape, the industry launched extensive research to explore its key aroma and flavor compounds, and how they relate to viticulture and winemaking.

“In our research program, we wanted to understand the unique characters of New Zealand sauvignon blanc,” explains Dr Simon Hooker, general manager for research at N.Z. Winegrowers. “What are its sensory attributes? Can they be linked back to viticultural management? Are they generated in the vineyard, through winemaking processes, or by the yeasts?”

The findings of six years of research are revealed in a new book, “The Science of Sauvignon Blanc,” authored by U.K. wine writer – and plant biologist – Dr. Jamie Goode.

Hooker says the book presents a “very user-friendly” overview of the questions that prompted the research, and provides the wine industry with “new tools for driving flavor.”

So what did the study program reveal?

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