In honor of #SauvBlancDay, Brancott Estate brought out their chief winemaker Patrick Materman for a (virtual) tasting of five of their 100% sauvignon blanc wines. You’d think the wines would be pretty similar since they’re all from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. And that’s where you’d be wrong. The wines range from fresh & light to quite earthy & weighty.
Also, it’s interesting to note that Brancott Estate was the first to plant sauvignon blanc in Marlborough. Until Patrick said this I hadn’t really thought about it, but I guess someone had to be first: this was in 1975, with their first bottling 1979.
Tonight, first we sampled the 2013 Flight Song, a wine that is made with lower alcohol and thus fewer calories. Really. It’s got 20% fewer calories, and only 9% alcohol. Which is a good thing because it’s best sipped on its own, as an aperitif wine. It’s lively and lemon-limey, almost like grown-up soda pop. I had tried an early vintage of Flight Song and was not impressed. I recall that wine being too thin an acidic; this is a definite improvement.
Next: Brancott has been making their Estate Sauvignon Blanc since 1979, and they’ve definitely got the technique down – so far that the price has stayed down too, at around $14/bottle (though it does get discounted to an average of $12.) Elements of the traditional sharp herbal notes of a New Zealand sauv blanc are mixed with a nice chalkiness in the flavor. I can see why its popularity has endured; I would definitely look for this when I need to replenish my sauvignon blancs at home.
Another Brancott Brand is Stoneleigh, and we tasted the 2013 Stoneleigh Latitude Sauvignon Blanc, a smoky, earthy version with a medium body and more concentration than the previous wines. It felt almost savory, but with some citrus and more earth and chalkiness surrounding the lively acidity on the palate.
A few years ago Brancott began developing its prestige “Letter Series” and tonight we tasted the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc which had elements of green fruit from aroma to finish, including, winemaker Patrick said, “citrus, green olive and lemongrass.” I thought that last adjective was particularly interesting because the design of the label appears to be Asian in style. (I wonder why…)
Brancott’s prestige wine, the 2010 Brancott Estate Chosen Rows, will make it to the US in the next six months. It’s only produced every few years, when conditions are optimal in certain rows of vines in the Brancott Vineyard. Vines are pruned to yield especially low amounts of these special, hand-picked grapes. This is a savory feeling wine, much more complex than I would expect of a sauvignon blanc – and that was his goal as winemaker, Patrick related.