First published in the Irish Times, Saturday 9th November, 2019
The name Kevin Judd may not be familiar to you, but if you enjoy a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, you owe him a debt of gratitude. Judd is one of a small group of people responsible for creating one of our favourite wines and making it famous around the world. Judd was the person in charge of the first 25 vintages at the famous Cloudy Bay winery in Marlborough, New Zealand, before setting up Greywacke, his own label. Cloudy Bay, along with Montana (now known as Brancott Estate) were the first to produce a style of Sauvignon Blanc that quickly took the world by storm. It was pungent, perfumed and intense, with flavours variously described as gooseberry, freshly-cut grass, herbs, boxwood, peas, asparagus, and even famously as “tom cat’s pee on a blackcurrant bush”.
The unique Marlborough climate (a long growing season and huge differences in day and night-time temperatures) gave Marlborough Sauvignon (Savvie to locals) a distinctive style with piercing fresh lime zest acidity combined with gooseberry, grapefruit, passion fruit, mango and other ripe fruits.
Marlborough is still doing well, he says “although climate change is now a real issue – there is no doubt; the evidence is there. 2012 is the last cool vintage we had here. More scary is the warning we can expect more storms and other extreme weather events. Not all of this is bad though – I like a riper style of Sauvignon Blanc, therefore the warmer vintages actually suits my style of wine.” Judd, along with a few others, now makes a more subtle, richer, less aromatic style of Marlborough Sauvignon.
The Greywacke wines are made at Dog Point, another blue-chip Marlborough winery owned by two friends, from a mix of bought-in and estate fruit. As well as two Sauvignon Blancs, he makes an excellent age-worthy Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir. In some ways, Judd wishes we drank a little less Sauvignon Blanc. “I wish people would try our other wines, our Chardonnay in particular,” he says. He, and New Zealand in general, also makes some great Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
The overall standard of Marlborough Sauvignon is pretty high. Some of the less expensive versions can be a little sweet and confected, but overall there is a good consistency and quality at every price point. Every wine retailer will have a few Marlborough Sauvignon on offer, including Dunnes Stores, SuperValu, Marks & Spencer, Aldi and O’Briens, usually priced at €10-€15. Pay a few euros more, and you can enjoy some fantastic complex wines, including those from Greywacke.
Insight Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018
12.5%,€12.95 during November and December
Fresh and zesty with intense aromas of herbs and peppers followed by a lively palate of mango, pears and grapefruit. Perfect with a Thai chicken curry.
From O’Briens, obrienswine.ie
Dog Point Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018
Perfumed with crisp lemon zest, mouth-watering tropical fruits and a very long dry finish. Excellent wine. Try it with oysters or grilled white fish strewn with fresh herbs.
From Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, jusdevine.ie; Jnwine.com; Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown, whelehanswines.ie; The Corkscrew, Dublin 2, thecorkscrew.ie; Donnybrook Fair, donnybrookfair.ie
Babich Black Label Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018
A beautifully textured rich Sauvignon with ripe tropical fruits cut through with lime zest. Try it with prawns with mango or salmon with dill and butter.
From Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Drinkstore, D7, drinkstore.ie; D-Six Wines, Dublin 6; peggykellys.ie; Deveney’s, Dundrum; Martin’s Off Licence, Dublin 3, martinsofflicence.ie; Nectar Wines, D18; Sweeneys D3, sweeneysd3.ie; The Corkscrew, Dublin 2, thecorkscrew.ie; The Vintry, Dublin 6, vintry.ie; Terroirs, Dublin 4, Terroirs.ie; The Grape Vine, D9.
Greywacke Marlborough Wild Sauvignon Blanc 2016
A wonderful complex Sauvignon, with creamy textured ripe peaches and subtle toasted nuts, underpinned by a crisp herbal citrus acidity. Drink with seared scallops with lime or smoked salmon.
From Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4, baggotstreetwines.com; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Ely 64, Glasthule, Ely64.com; Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3 clontarfwines.ie; The Corkscrew, Dublin 2, thecorkscrew.ie; Donnybrook Fair,donnybrookfair.ie; Sweeneys D3, sweeneysd3.ie; O’Briens, obrienswine.ie; Martin’s Off Licence, Dublin 3, martinsofflicence.ie; Mitchell & Son, Dublin 1, Sandycove, and Avoca, Kilmacanogue & Dunboyne, mitchellandson.com; The Parting Glass, Enniskerry, thepartingglass.ie; Redmonds, Dublin 6; Redmonds.ie; Thomas’s of Foxrock, thomasoffoxrock.ie; Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown, whelehanswines.ie; The Wicklow Wine Co., Wicklow, wicklowwineco.ie