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Wine of the Week for week ending 14 January 2001
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Esk Valley 'Black Label' Sauvignon Blanc 2000
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Label of Esk Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2000 We pulled the wine out of the fridge. It wasn't cold, just cool because I had only put it in there half an hour before. The wine was opened and as it was poured the sweet, pungent, grassy aromas filled the room. Then once the pale coloured wine was in the mouth citrus flavours dominated - limes, oranges and grapefruit - with sweet tropical fruit making an appearance along with summer herbs of coriander and basil with a touch of spice that tingled my lips.

This wine has a lovely dry crisp acidity yet is juicy and ripe with a nice body and textural feel in the mouth. A little fat and a touch of oil nicely coats all those hidden places and stays there.

It's a mouth watering wine. Very fresh, crisp, alive, and totally refreshing on a hot January evening while thinking what we are going to cook for dinner. Makes me wish I had some fish in the house.

And the length - the flavour just keeps going and going and without food you wonder just what could this pungent sauvignon blanc flavour be compared to.

Gooseberry is a common descriptor for NZ sauvignon blanc, however some wine writers specifically refer to 'Cape Gooseberry' (Physalis edulis or Husk Cherry). These little yellow berries encased in their protective diaphanous shell are in season right now in New Zealand, so try a Cape Gooseberry and see what you think, but just make sure the berry is a shiny golden yellow and very very ripe. I can imagine some of the sweet, pungent, oily flavours of that wee berry in this wine.

The Esk Valley Hawkes Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2000 with the black label was mostly sourced from coastal Hawkes Bay. Individual vineyard parcels were processed separately to give winemaker, Gordon Russell, plenty of opportunities to experiment - (one can do this when the wine concerned is not the vineyard mainstay). It seems that the experimentations with a variety of yeasts, fermentation temperatures, fermentation vessels (old and new oak and tanks) and lees aging, has been successful.

This is a delicious wine, which I thoroughly recommend and for those of you who have only tried Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, try this and see what you think. It costs about NZ$16.95.

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