This cracking New Zealand Sauvignon is the product of the very low-cropping 2021 vintage and one of the country’s top winemakers, Steve Smith MW, in partnership with Texan investor and wildlife conservationist Brian Sheth.
It may look expensive, but you get your money’s worth in the breadth of flavour and interest in every sip: in vivid aromas of fresh-cut grass, herbs, gooseberry, lime, green apple, crushed rocks and hints of woodsmoke and spice; and in the juicy intensity, textural depth and crystalline, salty, savoury finish.
The grapes are from Wairau, the area that established Marlborough’s reputation as a great place to grow Sauvignon Blanc back in the 1980s, and they come from two vineyards: mature vines on stony river-terrace soils around Renwick; and biodynamically grown vines on the cooler clay slopes of Churton vineyard in the southern valleys. Fermentation is mostly in stainless steel, but a small amount is wild-yeast fermented in large oak, and there’s a period of maturation on fine lees to develop texture.
It’s a more versatile wine with food than many simpler, lighter Sauvignon Blancs. Among other things, it's good with tiger prawns fried with a few chilli flakes, lemon slices and flat-leaf parsley or coriander; fish such as bream or red mullet baked on tomatoes and courgette slices; barbecued vegetables; goat’s cheeses and semi-hard, hard and creamy blue sheep’s cheeses; and with anchovies and olives. 13.5%. Empty bottle weight: 690g
Smith & Sheth CRU Sauvignon Blanc 2021, Wairau, Marlborough, New Zealand
£17, Tesco (£14, Clubcard price)