I remember the first time I tasted this Sauvignon Blanc, it stopped me in my tracks.
Fresh, aromatic and crisp but also dry and powerful. It totally took me by surprise as a Sauvignon Blanc but not as I knew it, until I looked at the label and saw the words Best End. The name says it all. This is my top wine of the week – and what a week of tasting it’s been, thanks to interesting wines from all over the world in the course of sourcing wine to stock at Wellington’s biggest wine store, Regional Wines & Spirits, where I work as wine advisor, part time.

Wine of the week

19.5/20

2018 Churton Estate Marlborough Best End Sauvignon Blanc $40-ish

Churton Estate’s Best End Sauvignon Blanc is now in its fourth edition (the first vintage was 2013 followed by 2015, 2017 and, now, the 2018). It’s made from certified organically grown grapes from a vineyard planted in 2004 on an east facing vineyard at the top of a ridge. The elevation provides the grapes with cool nights, vibrant acidity and good drainage. Flavours are clean, crisp and concentrated with green fruit, a savoury aspect and smooth textured derived from 100% barrel fermentation, 25% in new barriques. The wine remains in barrels for 12 to 18 months on lees and is bottled unfined and unfiltered. Delicious

18.5/20

2017 Stepp Pinot Gris $29.99

Talk about a new take on Pinot Gris. Here’s a wine I need to learn a lot more about from the Pfalz region in southern Germany. It’s clean, fresh and medium bodied thanks to a natural spritziness with a touch of CO2 at bottling because it was bottled straight off the lees (yeast cells) to retain freshness. Total sulphur is low and it’s sealed with a screwcap.
This is next level Pinot Gris; dry, fresh and complex. A total surprise.

18.5/20

2015 Hans Herzog Marlborough Montepulciano $65-$70

Montepulciano in Marlborough? Well, yes, probably because very occasionally it can be done. And Swiss born Hans Herzog first did so in 1998. He has since set a high standard in this incredibly niche category, changing his viticulture to enhance the quality by spur pruning for the past 10 years, in order to reduce the size of Monte’s naturally big bunches and lower yields. The wine is bottled, unfined and unfiltered, after 24 months in French barriques; 30% new. A surprising wine with body, weight and smoothness.