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Wine of the Week for week ending 28 Jun 2009
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River Farm Saint Maur Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Marlborough, New Zealand

It's mid winter, the nights are long and the days are cold - as cold as it seemed like they were when I was a child. We’ve even had several episodes of frost here in Auckland already this winter - an event that for the last few years had become quite rare. Still mild, however when I look at the temperatures on the weather map. It was -7 degrees in Alexandra this morning. Brrrrr.

So what do you go to get out of the doldrums? You open some bottled summer. In other words, a bottle of delicious Sauvignon Blanc.

River Farm Saint Maur Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008 is quite restrained in its bouquet compared to the more flamboyant sun burning renditions of bottled summer. This is not lying on a beach towel, sunrays beating on your back. This is sitting in the shade of the beach umbrella with your picnic spread out in front of you. You eat, then relax in the sultry breeze, digesting your food before you head back to the water. Well-sated, you start to snooze off - -the sound of surf breaking, children playing and jet skis in the distance blur into one. This is memories of lazy hazy day summer wine.

I smell hints of grapefruit, and underlying earthy-like citrus pith and a hint of creamy oak with a lemon-bread sweetness coming through. That gentle softness carries through to the palate where the use of creamy vanillin oak is even more obvious. Cape gooseberry and melon-like fruit is ripe and sweet with a tingling citrus undercurrent. Some lovely anise-like herbs, eg tarragon and chervil, add the x-factor to the fleshy finish. So much going on and then it leaves a memory like you get after biting into an almost overripe, juicy apricot with hints of banana passionfruit too. This is just mind-blowingly delicious.

River Farm was one of the finds at Wine New Zealand last year - one of the 'new' producers. But I soon found out not really as owner David Dew has been growing grapes in Marlborough almost as long as anyone. Only the label is new - the 2008 the inaugural vintage.

This is a follow on to the River Farm Ben Morven Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008 I tasted at Wine NZ. It is whole cluster pressed and run straight into barrel for ferment with natural yeasts from the vineyard. It spends ten months in barrel and is then blended to create the wine. Brian Bicknell is the master craftsman in the winery, taking David's lovingly tended fruit.

I always find these alternative styles of Sauvignon Blanc quite hard to match to food, but accompany this with smoked salmon atop cream cheese on a lightly salted cracker - it really is quite more-ish.

Vital Statistics are 13.5% alcohol (on the label), 5.2 g/l residual Sugar - quite high but suits the style, 6.3 g/l total acidity and a pH of 3.34. Bottled 30 January 2009 with a screwcap closure.

Recommended retail is $29 but where do you find it? That's a good question. Check out for stockists in New Zealand and Australia. You can always buy online too.

This is a winery to keep an eye on. An impressive sample tasting at Wine NZ - even more impressive by the glassful in my own home.

© Sue Courtney
22 Jun 2009

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