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Wine of the Week for week ending 21 Feb 2010
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Lawson's Dry Hills The Pioneer Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Marlborough, New Zealand

When the invitation arrived I put the date on my calendar then promptly mislaid the card. It came in the post just a couple of days before Christmas and was 'tidied up'. I hadn't RSVP'd and I was stressing a little as the date grew closer. I really wanted to attend because this was launch of a special range of wines to honour a special Marlborough man and it was being held at Clooney, my favourite restaurant of 2009. I need to RSVP to someone at the agency, but who? Then the email arrived.

"I am following up the invitation that was sent to you re the launch of our "Pioneer" range at Clooney's." The sender was Barbara Lawson.

I was able to email back and confirm my attendance.

The "Pioneer" refers to the late Ross Lawson, of course. Sadly he passed away last year but this man, who was posthumously awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Marlborough Wine Weekend last October, has his name living on in the Lawson's Dry Hills wines.

The wines in the Pioneer range are quite rightly made only in 'exceptional' vintage years and 2009 was one of the years. There are three in the range - all rather delicious - but it was the Sauvignon Blanc that I loved - a wine I could drink with or without food - the food on this occasion a Clooney masterpiece in the form of a Goats Cheese Cappelletti with summer vegetables and a beurre noisette (ie brown butter sauce).

Lawson's Dry Hills The Pioneer Sauvignon Blanc 2009 has a whiff of a wild yeast derived scent to the bouquet that initially makes me think it could be an 'alternative' style but there are distinctive, classic, herbaceous and tropical scents too. Creamy and rich to the taste, yet crisp, fresh, bright and zingy with initial flavours of fleshy peach and juicy tangelo joined by gooseberry and herbs. The barrel portion is 15 %, with half of the barrels fermented by the action of indigenous yeast. The barrel portions underwent malolactic fermentation, which has introduced that creaminess, and rested on yeast lees, which has introduced a suggestion of savouriness. Focussed and vital, it's a serious style of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, but deliciously drinkable too. It also seems that it has potential to age several years - the notes say 9 grams/litre of total acidity - that will preserve the wine for sure.

The wine has 13% alcohol and is sealed with a screwcap, naturally, for Ross was the Chairperson of the inaugural committee of the New Zealand Screwcap Initiative.

Just 150 cases were made and the price is around $29.95 a bottle. Like the man who the wine is named after, this is a characterful addition to the Lawson Dry Hill's range. Check out for more information.

You can read more about the 'The Pioneer' range on my blog.

© Sue Courtney
15 Feb 2010

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