Moderate sailing conditions on the inter island ferry

By Jamie Drummond

We left the wonderful city of Wellington reasonably early in order to catch the Interislander ferry to Picton on the South Island. After the celebratory shennanagins of the previous evening’s Pinot Noir Gala Dinner much of our group were looking a little exhausted as we boarded the ship. The waters between the North and South islands have a reputation for being some of the world’s most turbulent, but as I do not travel too well at the very best of times, thankfully the sailing conditions were quite benign that day… and the views were quite spectacular.

View from the ferry heading towards Picton

After a very pleasant drive down to Blenheim we journeyed out to see Ruud and Dorien from Staete Landt. Much to our delight they had arranged a blind tasting of Malborough Sauvignon Blancs. Now, those of you who know me well will be well aware of my mostly negative feelings (Ha!) for the majority of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs… so this was going to be the most interesting of tastings… was I going to score ANY of these wines above 3 apples?

2009 Oysterbay Sauvignon Blanc Malborough
Honeyed, sweet and kind of candied… with lime zest. A little flat on the palate. Simple and most unexciting. Dull, dull, dull.

2009 Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc Malborough
Ripe tropical fruits, limes and blackcurrant leaf on the nose. Well-fruited. Crisp and juicy with a pleasant bitterness on the very back of the palate.

2009 Mapmaker Sauvignon Blanc Malborough
Ripe and fresh with some basil, tomato leaf, lime zest and exotic feijoa aromatics. There is also a nice mineral thing going on here. Subtle, but it’s certainly there. Quite appealing but certainly a more commercial style than the Staete Landt.

2009 Stoneleigh “Rapaura Series” Sauvignon Blanc Malborough
Delicate peach and stone fruit on the nose. Quite floral with some Anjou pear. Talcum powder on the back of the palate is very pleasing. Nicely balanced. I was quite surprised at how well this was showing.

2009 Clos Henri Sauvignon Blanc Malborough
Minerals, some barrel influence and a little reductive. Medium acidity… not near to crisp enough to carry all of that saggy tired fruit. For some reason I keep on thinking of cellulite on a mature french lady. Not quite sure why… Disappointing.

2009 Saint Clair “Wairu Reserve” Sauvignon Blanc Malborough
This one hit me with a strange aromatic that was most reminiscent of some seriously stinky body odour… mixed with passion fruit. Which I actually found most appealing! Palate was very well put together… really lively with a solid finish. Well made juice here.

2009 Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc Malborough
Reserved nose with a slightly sweet palate. Not overly complex. Pleasant but not outstanding in any manner.

2008 Seresin Sauvignon Blanc Malborough
Perfumed and exotic. Blackcurrant really hit me on this one. A little oak treatment is noticable but works very well with the fruit. Good acidity with a satisfying mouthfeel. The texture on this wine gives it extra points. Good stuff.

2008 Vavasour Sauvignon Blanc Malborough
Gooseberry and tropical fruit… but way to simplistic to hold my attention for any time whatsoever. Lacks complexity. Uninteresting.

2008 Staete Landt Sauvignon Blanc Malborough
Extended lees contact is most evident on both nose and palate as well as an appealing herbaceous character. Reminded me very much of Norman Hardie’s whites just after release, and that isn’t a bad thing by any means. A little barrel work makes itself known. Tense and poised as the best of New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blancs should be. Seamless and really quite delightful.

2008 Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc Malborough
This wine also aromatically revealed itself to have spent some time on its lees. The wine was crisp on the palate but the fruit seemed manufactured. There seemed to be no cohesion between the essential elements.

2009 Staete Landt Sauvignon Blanc Malborough
This younger example of the Staete Landt style showed in a very similar manner to the 2008 but with a great vivacious punch and follow through. This wine is no one-trick pony… it’s as complex as Sauvignon gets from outside of the Loire, but with a fruit character that the French can only dream of.

2009 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc Malborough
Now this surprised me when tasted blind. I scored it pretty well considering I have been Cloudy Bay’s harshest critic for many a year. The nose exhibits tropical fruit and blossom. Quite full and textural on the palate with the requisite juicy acidity to carry all that fruit. What can I say? I like Cloudy Bay now. Too funny.

2009 Ned Sauvignon Blanc Malborough
A most uninteresting nose with some guava being the only thing that jumped out and grabbed me. Sweet on palate… not the way I enjoy my Sauvignons. Fruit/Acid balance is competent.

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… and it’s going to be quite some time before he opts for another glass of Sauvignon Blanc.