This year's regional trophy for the best New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc over £10 is from Marlborough...
Vavasour Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Winemaker Stuart Marfell grew up in Marlborough and was a Vavasour fan from a tender age. Marfell was in junior school when Vavasour’s first harvest took place in 1989, and he lent a hand. “I showed up as a nine year old with my mum. The local farmers’ wives helped out picking during the first harvest and I tagged along. I ate a whole lot of grapes and thought it was pretty cool.” He returned in 2003 as a qualified winemaker and hasn’t left.
Vavasour was a pioneer in the Awatere Valley sub-region and planted in 1986, making it an old hand in New Zealand. “I think the big difference is the Awatere Valley gives an amazing concentration and a salty character. The soils are less fertile out here and it’s a bit cooler so we end up with more intense flavours,” says Marfell. “We find the Awatere gives herbal edges but there’s quite often stone fruit, blackcurrant and tomato stalk.”
He attributes the success of the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc to the quality of the fruit. It was a warm, dry year with low yields and it was the vineyard, “rather than any winemaking tricks,” that made this wine. The winemaking process is fairly standard for the region – commercial yeasts, and fermentation at cool temperatures in stainless steel to retain the fruity freshness.
While the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc has won high acclaim, Marfell hints that the true highlight of the vintage will be Pinot Noir.
Written by Matt Chappell