They say when you die your sense of hearing is the last sense go but I'm not so sure. As my mother lay dying, well a few days before her actually passing away, my sisters and Neil and I were gathered in her room in the early evening, enjoying a glass of wine. Mum was no longer drinking; she had even stopped enjoying her favourite refreshing cups of tea. But she did respond to the vibrant and pungent passionfruit aromas that wafted strongly out of the glass. "Mmmm," she said as the tantalising scent gave her a real sense of joining in.
The wine was the Mud House Swan Sauvignon Blanc 2008. There were other swans in the room too, the swans from Tchaikovsky's ballet music, Swan Lake. It was a favourite ballet and Mum had taken us girls to see it at His Majesty's Theatre when we were children. We also remembered a beautiful outdoor summer production on a floating stage on the lake at Western Springs. Then I wondered if Neil remembered the time that I dragged him to the Aotea Theatre to see it - his first and last ballet attendance. The four little swans music bought a smile to everyone's faces as we remembered all the silly send-up shows we had been to where guys dressed up in tutus and awkwardly tried to emulate the lively ballet scene. Then later the music from the dying swan scene came on; it was very moving and quite surreal in a way.
That was the week of the New Zealand International Wine Show and the Mud House Swan Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008 was one of the partly consumed bottles I had taken home with me. My mother died a few days later, so when the wine was announced as Champion Sauvignon Blanc at 2008 NZ International Awards Dinner, I smiled to think Mum had enjoyed the wine too.
The wine was served again last Wednesday night at the First Glass tasting of the NZIWS trophy winners and the astounding flavours shocked most of the people in the room. I love Sauvignon Blanc like this and was surprised to see that only half the room was in my 'love it' camp. Others simply hated it. "They are probably not Sav Blanc drinkers anyway," I thought.
I loved it because it was fresh and tasty and totally delivered everything I expect in good Sauvignon Blanc. Pale in colour, as befits new vintage wine, but so powerful and intense in every other way. All those vibrant, vivacious passionfruit aromas and those scintillating flavours - a perfect balance of crispness and fruitiness with a touch of oiliness to the texture, abundant tropical fruit, a shimmery racy citrussy edge and a long pungent sweet pea finish. Simply stunning.
From the Mud House website, I find that the best parcels of fruit are earmarked for the Swan wines, and in the case of this Sauvignon Blanc the grapes came from the 'Wool Shed' Block of Mud House's Marlborough Vineyard in the upper Wairau Valley. Stainless steel fermented, there's moderately high acidity (7.6g/l) with 2.5g/l residual sugar, while 12.5% alcohol by volume stated on the label. It has a screwcap closure and retail price is $24 to $27 a bottle, depending on where you buy.
© Sue Courtney
5 Oct 2008