Sauvignon Blanc: The New Zealand Experience.
While Sauvignon Blanc's reputation was forged in the upper Loire, nowadays the world's most frequently purchased examples are grown a world away: New Zealand is particularly suited to the variety. Within twenty years Marlborough has gone from producing no wine at all, to being synonymous with Sauvignon Blanc. Here the synergy of very cool temperatures and intense sunlight coupled with meager rainfall creates an ideal terroir. In Australia, cooler climes like the Adelaide Hills, Yarra Valley and Tasmania contend in the quality stakes. Further afield, Western Australia has developed its own refreshing style, blending Semillon with Sauvignon Blanc.
The beauty of Sauvignon Blanc is that it can do well in many climates, ripening in a variety of ways to produce very different wines. Picked early it possesses profound grassy, capsicum, asparagus notes. A little riper, gooseberry and passion fruit emerge; later again, riper tropical fruits; and lastly under the influence of 'botrytis', it reveals its rich, luscious, honeyed dimensions as Sauternes. Barrel-fermentation, although not commonly used compared to Chardonnay, can also modify Sauvignon Blanc's aroma, adding texture and complexity.
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