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Wine of the Week for week ending 23 Jan 2011
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Shooting Star Sauvignon Blanc Methode Traditionelle
Marlborough, New Zealand

If there is one thing that makes wine immediately attractive it is the packaging and the new Shooting Star Sauvignon Blanc Methode Traditionelle, ticks all the eye candy boxes. In fact it's the best new packaging I've seen for several years. Not only the bottle label but also the stars that shoot up the perfectly placed, silver neck foil.

But the real test of a wine's quality is its taste.

Sparkling sauvignon blanc seems to have been created by an overflow of sauvignon blanc grapes and the quality to date has been extremely variable with some renditions just far too sweet. But Shooting Star is not a 'can't sell' wine with carbon dioxide added to make bubbles; this is a wine that has been made the same way as Champagne, with secondary fermentation in the bottle to introduce CO2 that will escape as bubbles once the wine is opened and poured.

So the mouth was watering in anticipation. And on tasting the wine, the mouth was elated.

Shooting Star Sauvignon Blanc Methode Traditionelle is a creamy light gold in the glass with plenty of foam rising up as the wine is poured, the foam subsiding to let the tiny bubbles do their never-ending rising from the bottom of the glass thing. The aroma is mildly yeasty, like spiced lemon bread, and the texture is soft and creamy and surprisingly not too tingly. Likewise the flavours are not too pungent or bracing. There's apple, lime curd, a hint of bean and yes, a pointer to sauvignon blanc with a suggestion of summer herbs on the finish that has a touch of sweetness, like caramelised orange zest. But overall the wine gives an impression of being dry.

Eveline Fraser, one-time winemaker at Cloudy Bay and now the winemaker at No. 1 Family Estate, New Zealand's only methode traditionelle specialist, has created Shooting Star as her personal label.

There's a website on its way - meanwhile the wine is in some retail outlets with prices ranging from $20 to $26.

Unusually for us, we matched this wine to a main course, which was chicken thighs stuffed with whole green beans, slices of yellow capsicum and slices of haloumi cheese (a variation of this recipe I created in 2008). But it was a forkful of mashed potato topped with fresh tomato and home-grown basil from the salad, with a sprinkle of fennel salt, that went down a treat. If I served this wine again with finger food, I'd made potato blinis with fennel and top the blinis with tomatoes and basil.

© Sue Courtney
17 Jan 2011

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