It’s easy to understand why people question the value of products that cost significantly more than most comparable ones, especially when feeling the post Xmas pinch and other global uncertainties right now. And it’s with just that understanding in mind that I chose to begin this year’s indepth notes about wines on this site. It’s not that my budget is unlimited (far from it) but rather that this Sauvignon Blanc is created with the long term in mind, as much as it is about instant delicious gratification right now. It is the top Sauvignon Blanc from Giesen Wines; a high volume winery which also makes smaller quantities of high quality wines. That’s where The August fits in and at a time when so much is uncertain in global terms, this wine is a reminder of things that matter to us all – family and where we come from. The August is named after the man who inspired the three Giesen brothers to start making their own wine; their late grandfather, August Giesen, whose picture appears on the front label of each bottle of this wine. If it seems slightly unconventional for three German born brothers to move to New Zealand and make their living mostly from Sauvignon Blanc, then this wine pushes the maverick theme even further, which is why it’s my first wine of the week for 2021 – a year that I hope turns out to be a new and improved 12 months than the year that was 2020.
2018 Giesen The August Sauvignon Blanc $39.99
Two great Marlborough vineyards were home to the grapes that went into this dry, full bodied and creamy Sauvignon Blanc; Dillon’s Point and Matthew’s Lane are both in the Wairau Valley and home to some of the oldest Sauvignon grapes in the region. All of which were hand picked and whole bunch pressed to preserve fruit purity and retain fresh acidity; 80% of the free run juice was fermented in tanks with the remainder fermented with wild yeasts in used 1000 litre German oak fuder barrels and older French oak barriques. The finished wines were blended and lightly filtered before bottling, without fining. The result is a multi layered, flavoursome Sauvignon that highlights the benefits that older oak can bring to flinty young dry white wines. This is a stunning match with creamy white cheese or roast chicken.
The August drinks well now and can undoubtedly evolve positively for at least another four to five years.
The understatement of the year might be that 2020 is 12 months that we will all remember. As if anyone could forget.
The past year has been a bitter sweet journey for some of us and just plain bitter for others. It’s with a heavy heart that I recommend a wine of the week for Christmas this year. Not only has the pandemic destroyed the lives of so many people who I never knew, the year of 2020 has seen a couple of very close family members become extremely unwell. Like the pandemic, it just doesn’t seem fair. Life is not ‘fair’. As I write this from my home here in New Zealand, I am acutely aware (and enormously appreciative) that this country has come to feel like such a sheltered haven from the pandemic and struggles that so many people are facing around the world this Christmas. So it seems indulgent to suggest a decadent wine of the week, but here we have it. We’ve all got to take love where we can find it. And wine in all its variety and glory is one of those constant things that brings love to many people’s lives. The love of the flavour and the mild effects are one thing, but, for me, wine evokes memories of place, people and all the fascinating factors that go into making good and great wines. This makes it the world’s most natural and most fascinating thing to drink, for me and for many others.
This week’s top wine is a pink sparkling wine from Daniel and Adele le Brun in Marlborough, New Zealand. It’s just won a stack of awards and it also gets my gong for top pick of their current range of top quality sparkling wines.
If you’re reading this, I hope your Christmas day goes well and is spent with people you love and, hopefully, something tasty and evocative in your glass too.
Wine of the week
No 1 Family Estate Rosé $47 is… made in the traditional method (the same way as champagne) and is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes. It’s fresh, bright and bold in flavour with a pale pink colour and loads of bubbles, making every mouthful a refreshing, zingy and fun experience.
It’s even more delicious as it sits in the glass and warms up so be brave and serve it lightly chilled instead of icy.
Merry Xmas and best wishes for a safe end to this week and to this year. I’m looking forward to a new improved version of a year in 2021.
No.1 Rosé RRP $47.00
A new release of an old wine has highlighted just how far small steps can take a wine and how well Sauvignon Blanc can age, given half a chance.
The wine is the 2014 Dog Point Vineyards Section 94. It has never had the grape variety on the label and, if winery founders Ivan Sutherland and James Healy continue to have their way, it never will. The aim is to highlight the site, not the grape. In keeping with their interesting and approach, which emulates the great classic European wines, they have also fully converted all of their vineyards to organic certification. All of their grapes in Section 94 are hand harvested and fermentation is 100% in old French oak. These little incremental steps take this wine a long way.
The grapes were gently pressed to tank for 24 hours of settling prior to 18 months of fermentation and maturation in older French oak barrels with wild yeasts and no additions. The wine was bottled without fining and with a minimal filtration to retain weight and maximise concentration of flavour in the wine.
Wine of the week
2014 Dog Point Section 94 Sauvignon Blanc $36.99
One of my faves right now because it’s incredible how well a wine such as this can age, when given half the chance. This museum release comes from Dog Point Vineyards’ iconic Section 94; a plot named after the original Lands & Survey map. It is dry and full bodied thanks to 100% barrel fermentation in old French oak, which adds savoury notes and depth as well as a smooth texture. It has creamy flavours to burn and a long, zesty, citrusy finish.
Fun facts about Dog Point Vineyards
- Dog Point Vineyards’ new 2020 Dog Point Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc is one of the best yet; from a great quality vintage, even if it was challenging on other fronts, due to the global pandemic, which is bound to ensure that the 2020 vintage lives long in our memories.
- This winery is also the biggest landholder of organically certified vineyards in New Zealand today, all of them in Marlborough.
- Dog Point Vineyards also makes outstanding extra virgin olive oil.