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Welcome to Sue Courtney's web log (blog) of vinous ramblings.  It's my on line journal and an adjunct to my website which is for more formal tasting notes and articles.

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Archive: August 2012
Aug 31st: Blue wine for a blue moon
Aug 30th: Yes, Gewurztraminer really can reward with cellaring
Aug 29th: Seifried stars on TV and radio as well as in the glass
Aug 29th: Gewurztraminer Feast
Aug 28th: The Shorty Street Wine Experts
Aug 22nd: Beetle Juice - Pinot for Beetles?
Aug 22nd: Top Ten Wine Trends from the last Ten Years
Aug 15th: Hot Reds from Hawkes Bay
Aug 8th: Babich Ve-ohn-ne-ay
Aug 1st: First taste of 2012 Sauvignon Blanc

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Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Aug 31st 2012

Blue wine for a blue moon

The world is atwitter with the first blue moon since March 2010 and the last until July 2015. Or is it?

Here in New Zealand, where the time zone is 12 hours ahead of GMT or UT, the moon is at its fullest at 1.59 am – tomorrow, September 1st, so we can enjoy the moon rising as full on the last day of August, and see it set as full on the first day of September. How often does that happen? Even rarer than a blue moon, I'll wager.

"What shall we drink for the blue moon," I ask the wine pourer. He rummages around and finds West Brook Blue Ridge Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 2000. Classical cabernet that has mellowed with age, the aromas and flavours are pretty similar - savoury with a mellow oak smokiness, earth, sweet herbs and leather, but the palate is imbued with a deep sweet vinosity and fleshiness from the red berry fruits that well up from within. The colour is rich, with still a flash of crimson to the blue red hue, and the tannins have softened on the edges yet still have a firm, structural core.

A blood-warming wine, a sip or two the perfect preparation to going outside on this late winter night - the temperature rapidly dropping, to try and photograph the moon, then a suitable accompaniment to a rustic meat loaf cooked alongside herbed roasted potatoes.

Sipping on the wine after dinner, it's mouthcoating, mellow and the lingering finish is most satisfying. Lovely wine -and I don't have the blues.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Aug 30th 2012

Yes, Gewurztraminer really can reward with cellaring

I thought Neil had poured Rosé when I walked into the kitchen and saw the glass of wine on the bench. Unlikely, however, and moving closer I could see the colour was amber with a rose tint to the hue.

I picked up the glass, held it to my nose, and inhaled. Rose again, this time the flower, the  hedonistically fragrant old fashioned rose. A touch of honey, gingernuts and tangelo peel add to the redolent allure.

"Gewurztraminer," I confidently said but when I tasted it, the botrytis and lusciousness had me going off on a tangent, momentarily.
"Er ... or it could be Riesling..."
But I knew from his expression that was incorrect.
"The nose has it," he said.
And then of course the hallmark Gewurztraminer spiciness took over, the botrytis and honey scurrying into the background.

Te Whare Ra Duke of Marlborough Gewurztraminer 1995 was the wine. Wine at an age I'd like to be again. Seventeen.

1995. Remember the year? It rained and rained in Marlborough, and then it rained some more. But hanging out the grapes to dry, the botrytis became an asset to the development of this wine. 

This was wine to have with food and we enjoyed it with chicken poached in orange juice and  brandy with orange zest, cumin, coriander, thyme, rosemary, star anise, garlic, salt and pepper. The flavour of the poaching sauce was divine, but the chicken was a little dry because we stood around talking about the wine for far too long. But the glorious wine fixed the problem - the combo of the meat and the wine simply outstanding. A mouthful of wine to wash down a mouthful of chicken – needless to say a glass didn't last long.

The cork had busted on extraction and ½ an inch or so remained in the bottle. When the bottle was empty, we wondered what was on the cork to give to impart a tingling sound when we rolled it around. Neil got out his rarely used (now) broken cork extractor thing. It (the cork) was covered in a 1mm dense layer of tartrate. The ting was tartrate crystals on glass!

Te Whare Ra was a brand we religiously followed in our early wine drinking days, when brand competition wasn't a big issue. The price we paid: $18. So it wasn't cheap wine in the scheme of things, by any means. But this was money well spent, as proved in the satisfaction of the luxurious taste.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Aug 29th 2012

Seifried stars on TV and radio as well as in the glass

Did you see Country Calendar on TV1 a couple of Sunday nights ago? It screened on 18th August - play it from the On Demand section on Terrific wine program and an insight into one of New Zealand's pioneering wine families, the business still very firmly in family hands.

In 1970 Austrian-born Hermann Seifried arrived in Nelson to make fruit wines for the apple and pear marketing board. He fell in love, got married (to Agnes) and with wine experience behind him, bought land and planted the first 'modern era' vineyard in Nelson. That was in 1973. Today Seifried is still family owned, but the day to day running of the winery and vineyards has passed to the next generation. This program is definitely worth watching and the historical footage is enlightening.

I've chosen Seifried Nelson Gewurztraminer 2011 to take into the Radio Live studio today because it is affordable, it’s widely available, it's not too overpowering, it's Gewurztraminer for Pinot Gris drinkers and it’s an excellent introduction to the grape. See my review in the blog entry below.

Gewurztraminer has been part of the Seifried range since the very beginning. They grafted the vines in 1973, planted them out in 1974 and made their first wine in 1976. They make several renditions from the grapes and this is the second wine in the range. The top of the tier is Seifried Winemaker's Collection - it's richer, more luscious and more intense in its flavours. The cheapie is the Old Coach Road – it has a spritzy feel to the texture and really needs to be chilled to perform at its best – it's a gewurz to have on a hot summer's day or to enjoy as a pre-dinner drink.

Although Gewurztraminer hails from Europe and is best known from Alsace in France, it's the ideal wine to accompany most Asian cuisine – ideal with dishes than have lemon with coriander, lemongrass, chilli, kaffir lime, etc.

Prices: $18 to buy online from the Seifried website but it can retail from as low as $13 a bottle (8-weekly cycle supermarket promotions), to evidently as much as $24.99 – but why pay that much? Buy it on special and stock up. Take a bottle with you next time you go to a Chinese restaurant and chill lightly before hand.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Aug 28th 2012

Gewurztraminer Feast

Gewurztraminer, one of the most easy to recognise white wines about, only rivalled by sauvignon blanc for distinctiveness here in New Zealand, is one of my favourite varieties to drink. The classical aromas and flavours of old English roses, violets, Turkish delight, lychees, orange water and aromatic spices; the soft acidity and textural complexity of the mouth-coating liquid; the concentration and power - sometimes overpowering; the length. Gewurztraminer is a wine that needs to be treated with the utmost respect and enjoyed in a situation that suits it best.

@Winepour opened six the other night and we tasted them blind both at cool room temperature and then tasted them chilled. We tasted them over two nights alongside two food courses: firstly chicken breasts scored and marinated in orange juice and zest, ginger, soy sauce, salt and pepper, then pan-fried; and spicy beef rissoles infused with kaffir lime, coriander, cumin and chilli.

Interestingly, chilling pronounced the lemon/orange characters in all of the wines, but they presented the typical spices and even a little confectionery character with their smoker (musk) lollies and Turkish delight connotations.

These are the wines and they are listed in the order of my personal preference.

Te Mania Nelson Gewurztraminer 2011
Although quite quiet aromatically and delicate on first tasting, it has a beautifully varietal bouquet with a layer of honey and expresses the best nuances of the grape. There's a touch of sweetness, honey, candied violets, musk, orange water, Turkish delight and the finish is expansive and strong. Beautifully balanced throughout it got my top vote both at room temperature and chilled. Okay with the chicken dish, and enhanced the fact that the rissoles had chilli. I found out after the tasting this wine has already been awarded gold at the Easter Show and 5 stars in a magazine, so I'm glad to see my palate is still on tune with the 'experts'.
14.5% alc. $21.99.

Rockburn Spitfire Central Otago Gewurztraminer 2011
Light lemon hued with a pretty floral and lemon cream biscuit scent, this is powerful, concentrated and rounded, off dry in style, heading towards luscious, with lemon citrus cream, Turkish delight, violets and spice There's also an intriguing earthy character that waxes and wanes and the only negative for me in this wine. The name has nothing to do with the classic single-seater war plane, it is named after the tank the wine had been fermented in. I didn't like this with the chicken, it was okay with the beef. Oh, and it was the wine pourer's favourite.
13.4% alc. $33.

Seifried Nelson Gewurztraminer 2011
Pale straw. Smokers, musk and a sweet suggestion to the bouquet. Plenty of action in the palate, a medium-bodied style, moderate textural complexity, lashings of ginger spiced apple and pear – strudel-like, and I'm thinking gewurztraminer for pinot gris drinkers. More textural when chilled, with pink bubble gum, smoker lollies, flowers, cloves, aromatic spices and orange water at the end. Outstanding match with the chicken, but not a match for the beef.
12.5% alc. $18.

Astrolabe Voyage Gewurztraminer 2009
A little earthy on the nose, not really expressive of the grape. Seems quite linear to the taste, smoker lollies and violets, yes violets; and cloves when the wine is chilled with a lemon infusion coming through, but the truth is this wine protests at being over chilled. Interesting wine and quite nice; a supportive wine rather than trying to be a star, a food wine but fussy about what the food match should be as it was a no-no with the chicken and just okay with the beef.
14.5% alc. $21.50.

Rippon Lake Wanaka Central Otago Gewurztraminer 2010
Light gold coloured. A little closed on the nose. Initially seems sweetish, and when chilled there's a burnt lemon toffee character to the scent, but the taste seems quite dry. Laden with spice and rose water with a touch of cumin, coriander and grapefruit zest, this wine is also savoury and what I call 'dark'; and when it is chilled an earthy wild yeast character becomes dominant. I wouldn't recommend chilling. The best match to the spicy beef rissoles, but a disaster with the orange-ginger-soy chicken. 14% alc. $32.50.

Old Coach Road Nelson Gewurztraminer 2011
Lemon coloured hue, intensely varietal bouquet of Turkish delight, rose petal and lemon oil, but strangely a little fizzy / spritzy to the taste with ginger and lemon and bubble gum esters. A medium sweet wine with loads of tropical fruit flavours and served very well chilled it will be a fun wine for summer. Second best wine with the chicken, but too sweet for the spicy beef rissoles.
13% alcohol. $15.50.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Aug 28th 2012

The Shorty Street Wine Experts

Dear Shortland Street scriptwriters and props people,

As I was watching a recent episode of Shorty I thought I was going to have to question your wine knowledge. It was episode 5068, first aired on 21 Aug 2012, where the lauded Professor Wilkes was portrayed as a (gasp) wine snob. But then I thought, well, you were in fact rather clever. Read on.

At lunch, in our favourite doctors' and nurses' hangout, the extremely conveniently located I.V. the snobby doctor though it would be time to have some wine, even though they had just finished eating their starters.

To précis some of the conversation …

"Are you ready to order some drinks," asks beautiful Bella, hospital 'admin girl' as well as temporary manager of the I.V.
"I don’t have a wine list," complains Dr Snob.
"Sorry about that," says Bella, turning around as if to look for one.
"You should know what's on there. What do you recommend?"
"Oh, ah, our New Zealand selection of wine is second to none," smiles Bella.
"I only drink French," the doctor declares.

Some interjection here from Luke who, like all the viewers, doesn't think Bella knows anything about wine.

"We have a lovely dry semillon from Bordeaux, it's great if you were thinking of having the fish or the mussels …" she continues.

Very impressive Bella, who woulda thought! You go girl!

"Or if you were after something a little more aromatic, perhaps with the chicken or the steak, our Alsace pinot gris is proving rather popular," she continues confidently …

... although I don’t think I'd be choosing a gris with steak, unless it was salmon.

"We'll try a bottle of each," says Dr Snob, and now here comes the clanger, "… and a bottle of your best French Shiraz". I groaned. A wine snob who only drinks French, ordering Shiraz not Syrah, or more specifically Hermitage or Cote-Rotie!

Roll on to a later scene and there are three bottles on the table, my eagle eyes picking up the fact they all had screwcap threads and the 'skirt' of the screwcap closure. Now surely wine snobs, who only drink French, would shun screwcap closures, even from the hallowed land! And I'm also wondering why a 'Burgundy' shape white wine bottle was there, not a high-shoulder 'white Bordeaux' affair.

But then I thought, gosh, Bella is brilliant. He orders French Shiraz and that's what he gets. French Shiraz with a screwcap, like Thierry and Guy's The Fat Bastard Shiraz 2011, a Vin de Pays d'Oc wine from the Minervois area in the Languedoc, a wine that I tasted at the First Glass tasting last Wednesday.

Well, it turns out in a later program that Dr Snob is basically blind, so unless he wanted some performance of the opening of the bottles at the table, hearing the crack instead of the pop (he's probably a little deaf too), it's unlikely he wouldn't have even known!

I couldn't see if the third bottle was an Alsace shape, but let's say it was because you can  find Alsace wines in screwcaps these days, for example Gustave Lorentz, Albert Mann and Blanck.

So scriptwriters, thanks for being on the ball with wine as it is in 2012, even in the heritage-driven bastion of French domaines.

Kind Regards,

PS find out more about Fat Bastard wines here.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Aug 22nd 2012

Beetle Juice - Pinot for Beetles

Don't confuse Beetle Juice Pinot Noir from the Wooing Tree vineyard in Central Otago with Beetlejuice, the 1998 American comedy horror film, nor with Beteleguese, the very large red supergiant star in the constellation Orion - even through the pronunciation is the same.

No, this Beetle Juice is named for the critically endangered Chafer beetle (Prodonotria lewisi), that lives in shallow loamy sand near the vineyard in Cromwell. This tiny little creature is just 15 mm long and is unable to fly, but you can see what it looks like on the label of a bottle of Wooing Tree Beetle Juice Pinot Noir. So the Beetle in the name is for the beetle, the juice - well you decide.  Whatever, this is a terrific wine that shows just why Central Otago at this price is so commercially successful and popular.

Wooing Tree Beetle Juice Pinot Noir 2010 is a deliciously juicy, succulent wine. Deep ruby violet colour, lovely inviting scent that conjures up cherries, cake spice, herbs and oak, and the lovely thyme and forest floor flavours we yearn for in Pinot with bright fruit accenting the long, velvety smooth finish.

RRP $28 - not much variation, perhaps only a couple of dollars, it seems. Check out

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Aug 22nd 2012

Top Ten Wine Trends from the last Ten Years

From the UK's The Drinks Business magazine, celebrating ten years of publication, they've compiled a list of the greatest changes in the drinks business world since their launch.

10. The Pinots
Although a number of grapes with the Pinot prefix, but it is Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris that is driving the change.
Drink Business reports a phenomenal rise in plantings and production in the last ten years, not least to do with the film, Sideways. They say that New Zealand stands out for carving a niche in the crowded international wine market for a highly commercial take on the grape; not too jammy or alcoholic, but neither too thin nor green.
We love Pinot Gris here too but it is in Italy where Pinot Grigio has been the white wine phenomenon of the last decade.

9. Anti-alcohol sentiment
You know we are seeing this here with the binge drinking culture of Kiwis and the rise of lobby groups, but we are not alone. With 24 hour access to alcohol at certain outlets, the problem is big in the UK too.

8. The wine closure debate
Ah, Corks v Screwcaps – we know that well here in NZ … 1 % in 2001 dramatically 70% usage in 2004 and now we are credited with for making the screwcap almost the default closure for aromatic white wines worldwide. But still the debate continues.
Drink Business refers to a tasting by Wine Spectator in 2005 where from 2800 wines tasted, 7% were deemed to have cork taint / TCA
Other closure alternatives have emerged, the Zork, the Vinolok, the crown cap for bubbles and an array of synthetic cork-like closures.

7. Fine wine
The international demand for top labels, price rises driven by speculative investment, a series of excellent vintages, improved price transparency, limited edition labels and Far East demand.

6. Environmentalism
The 'Green Option' – has manifested itself in various ways in the last decade, eg
•    agricultural techniques,
•    sustainable, organic and biodynamic viticulture
•    carbon emissions, particularly in transport. Marlborough's Grove Mill was the world's first Carbon Neutral winery.

New Zealand Winegrowers are committed to sustainability with the group Sustainable Wine New Zealand, and ‘Driving the Export Advantage through Sustainability’ is this year's Romeo Bragato Conference theme.

5. Premiumisation
Evidently this is the 'buzzword' of the last decade. Used primarily in the spirits industry for better more expensive variants. Premiums, super premiums, icons.
(We are seeing this in wine too)

4. Sparkling wine
Think bubbles, you probably think champagne, but over the last 10year, consumers realise there is more.
Prosecco from Italy has seen a 73% growth in the last five years and overtook sales of Champagne in many wine consuming markets, including the USA and UK.
Globally Italian Prosecco and Asti Spumante account for 320 million bottles of worldwide sales, compared to Champagne, Spanish Cava is on the rise, fizzy Moscatos and Muscats are taking off in the USA, and New Zealand gets a mention with the introduction of sparkling sauvignon blanc in the last couple of year.

3. The rise of rosé
What can we say other than you are trendy if you 'drink pink'. In the UK, rosé accounts for 13% of the 'off-trade' in Britain, 10 years of uninterrupted growth, although now starting to level off.

2. China
A thirsty market, particularly for first growth Bordeauxs and other big top name brands, the wine market is growing at 14% while other major wine-consuming countries are not seeing much change.
In 2011 year the imported wine market was estimated to account for over 40 million cases of the total 155 million cases consumed.
Over 500,000 hectares under vines today – the fifth-largest in the world by area planted – accounting for 20% of the global total.
The Chinese have also been active in the wine industry beyond their own borders, and over 20 Bordeaux châteaux have been acquired by Chinese buyers in the past four years alone. That number is expected to rise to 30 by the end of the year.

1. The Internet
OK – so the Internet and the WWW was around long before Drinks Business but with the advent of blogging and social media – Facebook, YouTube, Twitter; the ability for the everyday consumer to post their own thoughts and reviews, the Internet is giving the consumer increasing power when it was once the domain of print critics only.

To read about the Top Ten Trends in their entirety, go to The Drinks Business.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Aug 15th 2012

Hot Reds from Hawkes Bay

At the end of July I popped along to the annual Hawkes Bay Hot Red Roadshow, when twenty-three  Hawkes Bay wine producers came north to the big smoke to show off their wines. It's called the Hot Red, but both red and whites from the Bay were on show.

My mission was to taste every wine listed in the catalogue with an RRP of $25 or under, to find out what's really, really hot, not only in taste but also in price. Lyn Bevin, from Hawkes Bay Winegrowers, sent me a catalogue before the big day and I was able to plan my attack in advance.

The careful planning meant I was able to complete the mission just before the end of the tasting session bell rang. With the value for money foremost on my mind, I had to ignore the icon wines, including the most expensive wine at the tasting, the Clearview Endeavour Chardonnay with a list price of $250 for a 750-ml bottle. I did get a picture of winemaker Tim Turvey and NZ's most expensive white, however.

Of the 197 wines listed in catalogue, there were 67 with  RRPs that fitted my brief, although one producer with four of those wines was listed as not being at the Auckland session and other wines were not available because the book was printed a few months beefier the vent and those wines had sold out.

In the end I tasted 53 wines and have to say that of the reds, Merlot and the Merlot/Cabernet and Cabernet blends were the stars in the under-$25 price range, and interesting there were red wines from 2007 through to 2011 were on show.

One of the stars was Trinity Hill Hawkes Bay Merlot 2010, a fabulous year in Hawkes Bay and this value for money beauty shows why.  A blend of 87% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Cabernet Franc, this is a rich, juicy wine with a deep cerise colour, a lovely creamy oak and berry fragrance to the scent and a creamy oak undercurrent with smoky cigar box nuances. the tannins are supple, the a touch of fruit cake cherry and black forest chocolate and the concentrated finish is full and long.

When you taste this wine it is easy to see why it picked up three golden gongs in thee different competitions last year. And although its RRP was listed at $22 in the catalogue, it sells more more commonly around the traps for $19.99 and can be discounted down to $14.99 on promotion.

Widely available at supermarkets, bulk wine stores, online specialists and of course at

New TV Show

If you want to learn more about Trinity Hill, they feature in a new, seven episode, wine television program, making its debut tonight at 9.30 pm on Sky's Food TV.
Thirsty Work is a dream that's come to reality for my wine writing colleague, Yvonne Lorkin.
Tonight's episode is all about Hawkes Bay and features Alpha Domus, Clearview and Crossroads Winery. Trinity Hill features in Episode 6, Back to the Bay, on September 19th.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Aug 8th 2012

Babich Ve-ohn-ne-ay

Today the wine I've selected to take into the Radio Live studio in Ponsonby, to taste on air  with Andrew Patterson, is the Babich Family Estates Individual Vineyard Fernhill Hawkes Bay Viognier 2011. Viognier, it seems like such a hard word to say when people who have never seen it before try to pronounce; I usually pronounce it Vee-ohn-yay or Vee-ohn-ne-ay.   That seems to slip out okay.

A couple of weeks ago we tasted the Yalumba Eden Valley Shiraz Viognier 2008, where the white Viognier grape is co-fermented with the red Shiraz grape to create a wine of richer colour and more supple tannins. So today it's an opportunity to taste a single varietal Viognier, a grape variety that as recently as 1965 had only an acre of vines growing in the northern Rhone Valley. But it was discovered by the new generation winemakers and from around 1990 it was starting to be planted in major wine producing countries the world over. Here in New Zealand Te Mata Estate in Hawkes Bay produced NZ's first Viognier in 1997.  

Babich Fernhill 'Individual Vineyard' Hawkes Bay Viognier 2011 has a beguiling fragrance, perhaps even a hint of rose petal to the scent and in the mouth it is full-bodied with a smooth slippery sensual texture. The flavour is spicy, perhaps a touch of ginger and lemon grass, but also savoury and nutty with pear, peach and apricot fruit and again the musky rose petal nuances lingering on the end.  It's a Viognier that will appeal to both Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer drinkers, sitting somewhere in the middle of the two. But it has the body and richness of Chardonnay too.  

This wine has a point of difference in that it is a more moderate alcohol level (12.5%) than most of the Viogniers I've tasted, many are rather heady with around 14.5% alcohol by volume. (12.5% alcohol = 7.4 standard drinks, 14.5% alcohol = 8.6 standard drinks)  

Babich winemaker, Adam Hazeldine, told me they had always wanted to make a lower alcohol style and had planned to do an early pick versus a later picked trial in 2011, but everything ended up being 'early pick' with the impending onset of rain – so the whole batch of wine was their trial.  He said that while initially the wine didn't show what they were hoping, after a year in the bottle it has developed the flavour and the distinctive oily-like texture that Viognier is renowned for, so they are understandably very happy.

It costs $20-$25 and while you may find it in fine wine stores, you have to remember Viognier is not a runaway seller, so most stores do not stock more than one or two of this varietal – of course it is available in online from and other online stores for around $20 – plus freight.  If you can’t find the Babich then look for Yalumba Y Series (Yalumba the first to plant Viognier in the southern hemisphere), Moana Park, Vidal, Trinity Hill, Coopers Creek and Villa Maria.  Suggested Cuisine – Asian fare, sushi and seafood.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Aug 1st 2012

First taste of 2012 Sauvignon Blanc

It's the 1st August 2012! The dawn light is here before 7 am, daffodils are already in bloom, the grass is growing and the lawn needs mowing! Ah, the smell of new vintage Sauvignon Blanc … specifically Thornbury Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012 ... and, if this is anything to go by, the promise of great things to come.

Thornbury Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012 is ravishingly fresh and citrussy with salad herbs complementing the green passionfruit scent and a quenching passionfruit, pineapple, pink bubblegum and grapefruit taste. Punchy and tangy with a powerful presence and a long juicy finish ... there's something there that reminiscent of fresh cut grass – when you taste this I think you will agree!

Marlborough fruit, from both the Wairau and Awatere Valleys – the Wairau renowned for its tropical fruit, the Awatere for more flinty characters; the grapes fermented in stainless steel then a little time on the yeast lees to add textural complexity, filtered, bottled and transported to your wine shop shelves. Alcohol is 13%./

I've been told the RRP is $21 – but does RRP mean anything these days? Wine prices are totally market driven and when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc, there's plenty of competition. Saw this wine in a big yellow supermarket yesterday for $10.98 although there were both 2011 and 2012 vintages side by side – so check the year on the bottle carefully if you want a taste of 2012. I think the average price will probably be around $13 a bottle – and you'll probably find it perpetually at this price in wine shops, rather than the fluctuating specials you get in supermarkets.

Thornbury is part of the Villa Maria group, so quality is totally expected and if this wine lives up to its form then I expect it to be coated with gold medal stickers very soon.

Find out more from

Now here's a bit of trivia that's possibly going to make Sauvignon Blanc popular with one consumer set in the UK, at least. Oddbins has launched Cuvée Nue - because Sauvignon Blanc is best enjoyed naked. Naked wines are not new, but this campaign is. As one respondent to the article said, it's how to become a wine buff!

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