It is not often there is an opportunity to compare wine from ten vintages apart. But a little parcel that arrived from Seresin Estate in Marlborough afforded the opportunity.
There was the Seresin Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 1997 and the current vintage Seresin Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2007.
The wines were served blind but colour alone identified the older wine and on tasting, it confirmed what I already knew - that older sauvignon blanc blended with a little semillon will quite magnificently age.
Seresin Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 1997 is a blend of 93% Sauvignon Blanc and 7% Semillon fermented and aged separately with 14% of the cuvee matured in French oak barriques. The grapes were harvested from the Wairau Valley in April, blended in August and bottled in October.
Eleven years after vintage, the golden colour of the wine has a 24-carat depth. It's mellow smelling yet still fruity with melon, dried hay, talc and a hint of honeyed bread. We hear stories of old sauvignon blancs becoming like asparagus water or canned pea brine, but this wine had absolutely no peasy, asparagus scents at all.
Spicy and zesty to the taste with a delicate spritzy tingle, yet a honeyed richness and textural smoothness that has it heading towards luscious. Melon, apple and tropical fruit flavours add sweetness yet the long full, flavoursome finish is actually quite dry. There's also just the slightest hint of smoke.
When you compare the winemaking notes of the 2007 there are only very slight differences.
Seresin Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2007 is a blend of 95% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Semillon from three vineyards in the Wairau valley. Fruit from three vineyards in the Wairau Valley was picked progressively from the 1st to the 18th April, with 21 individual portions whole bunch pressed and fermented separately. 40% of the final blend was fermented with indigenous yeast. The Semillon and approximately 10% of the Sauvignon Blanc was fermented in older oak.
Pale in colour, youthful, and herbal with an initial waft of B.O. on the nose, this is bright and zesty to the taste. Upfront lime-tinged citrus gives way to more classic gooseberry and herbs with a touch of apple and then citrus is joined by tropical fruit on the finish and just a hint of tomato. The palate is long and full with a rounded completeness - and though at this stage of its life there is no funky scent of wild yeast or any oak flavour, these winemaking components have added a textural complexity, which adds to the x-factor of this wine. A wine becomes richer and richer with time - with hints of pineapple emerging on the nose, it's one that will take considerable aging. It tasting partner, the 1997 is the benchmark and gives an indication of what to expect from the 2007 in ten years time.
Some no-brainer Sauvignon Blanc food matches were tasted alongside the wines, being capsicum, tomato and goat feta. However only the 2007 could stand up to the strong flavour of the feta, which was part of the stuffing of the baked tomato. The 1997 put up it hands in shock horror at both food matches. We decided we'd simply sip and savour it instead. Check out the food matches on my
blog entry of 23 March 2008.
Seresin Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2007 has 13.5% alcohol, a screwcap closure and costs about NZ$25. Check out the website www.seresin.co.nz for more information.
© Sue Courtney
24 Mar 2008