In the 8000-year long history of wine, to call a taste that exists for merely 40 years a classic is astonishing. And yet, that is just what happened to the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
Within a couple of decades of its first vine plantings in the Marlborough region in 1973, the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc’s taste profile of pungent aromas and flavours, together with the omnipresent zesty acidity became a sought after taste. It is loved today, intensely by many, and exclusively by some (and especially some of my friends).
Unlike the representations from its ancestral land of the Bordeaux region in France and Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and other famous appellations in the Loire Valley that give birth to a variety of subtler taste profiles, this wine is unmistakable with its onslaught on the senses.
And that profile starts with intense aromas of gooseberries, green (or red) peppers, cut grass, and tropical fruit. Tastes may include passion fruit, and tend toward citrus fruits, lemon and lime especially, sometimes ending on a grapefruity note.
Now, did you ever try gooseberries? Those quite tart when opaque, and somewhat less so when translucent, green marble sized berries. They seem to be hard to find in my current neck of the woods. Being more common in Europe, and me hailing from there, gooseberries and I happily crossed paths many times.
Taste aside, if you haven’t been even close to them, how am I to describe their aroma to you? Well, … there is a way to illustrate it. Taken to the extreme, gooseberries smell like cat’s pee. (And some of the Kiwi wine producers had a sense of humor about it.)
The way I see it, though, and specifically related to Kim Crawford’s Sauvignon Blanc* I tried the other day, its aromas sing to me. There is asparagus, hay, and citrus on the nose. The palate is greeted with lemon and tangerine supported with mouth watering acidity, that beautifully lingers. It paired well with sweet and spicy sesame-sprinkled salmon, asparagus with mustard vinigarette and yams.
* From February 29, it is $3 off in the LCBO Vintages. Time to enjoy it again and stock up!