May 18 was recently declared sauvignon blanc day worldwide.
This year New Zealand and one California winery decided to showcase their sauvignon blancs to prove that it can complement oysters.
New Zealand wineries especially those from Marlborough on the north of the south island enthusiastically poured their wines to an eager crowd of wine writers in Toronto.
According to researchers, sauvignon blanc originated in south-western France but in Bordeaux it acquired fame for both dry and sweet wines. Subsequently, it was planted in eastern Loire Valley where Pouilly Fume and Sancerre are made and exported worldwide.
Sauvignon blanc is vigorous variety and can produce up to 15 tons per hectare if not pruned to lower yield. The berries are small, round to short oval and light green in hue. Clusters are small and well filled. It is prone to botrytis cinerea and oidium among other vein diseases.
In Bordeaux and elsewhere in the world where climatic and soil conditions are amenable, winemakers use botrytis affected grapes, when ripe, to make sweet wines (Think of Sauternes).
Sauvignon blanc cuts a lower profile than chardonnay, but by all accounts it is gaining popularity, especially with New Zealand’s winemakers.
Sauvignon blanc changes its aromas and flavour according to the climate – in cool regions the wine smells aggressively of cut grass, gooseberries, and asparagus but in moderate to warm climes it smells of passion fruit. It may also emanate sweet tropical fruit aromas. It likes well-drained sandy, clay soils
Today, sauvignon blanc is planted in Bordeaux, Loire Valley, southern France, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, Chile, California, Ontario, northern Italy, Austria, and Germany.
In New Zealand’s Marlborough in the north of the South island is a large producer, but Waipara, Martinborough, Gisborne, and Hawke’s Bay also started producing well balanced and aromatic sauvignon blancs.
On May 18, New Zealand’s wineries staged a sauvignon blanc and oyster matching event in the Starfish seafood restaurant in Toronto.
The following are my selection.
Icon Sauvignon Blanc, 2013, Nobilo, Marlborough
Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc, 2013, Sileni Estates, Marlborough
$ $ 17.95
The Kings Favour Sauvignon Blanc, 2013, Marisco Winery, Marlborough
Letter Series “B” Sauvignon Blanc, Brancott Estates, Marlborough
Sauvignon Blanc, 2013, Forrest,
Sauvignon Blanc, 2013, Hunter’s, Marlborough,
Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc, 2013, Lawson,
Sauvignon Blanc, 2013, Middle Earth, Nelson
To match sauvignon blanc Patrick McMurray, the owner of the Starfish Seafood served wild Irish oysters, Malpeque from Prince Edward Island, Olympia and Kumamoto from the west coast, and Taipara oysters from New Zealand.
The wild Irish oysters with a drop of lemon juice tasted chewy, mildly salty, but very flavourful, followed by Taipara oysters from New Zealand, Malpeques from P.E.I., and Kumamoto.
The best matches were the Lawson’s Dry Hill Sauvignon Blanc with the Irish, Forrest Sauvignon Blanc with Malpeques, the Kings Favour Sauvignon Blanc with Kumamoto, and Icon Sauvignon Blanc from Nobilo with Olympia oysters.