Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


New Cloudy Bay Sauvignon released

It’s no secret that 2020 was an interesting (insert whichever adjective springs to mind first) vintage. As if Mother Nature doesn’t throw enough challenges at winemakers, Covid-19 came along right on cue as most winemakers were either about to start picking their grapes or were already in the middle of it. The silver lining this year was a little benevolence on the part of Mother Nature, who provided dry weather throughout the most crucial part of the grape growing season; from Christmas onwards. This meant relatively little disease pressure and optimum ripening conditions with plentiful sunshine and little rain. It’s enough to make winemakers sleep well at night.

The harvest for this year’s Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc began on 15 March and finished on 2 April; a day after April Fool’s and a few days after full lockdown began in New Zealand. The free run juice of Cloudy Bay’s Sauvignon Blanc grapes was cold settled before racking and inoculation with selected yeasts. The wine was then fermented in stainless steel with approximately four per cent in a combination of older French oak barriques and large oak vats at warmer temperatures. All up, 91 different portions of Sauvignon were blended and the finished wine comes in at 13.2% ABV with 2.4 grams of residual sugar.
As always, this is an impressive wine with complexity from time on lees in older oak, albeit less older oak than in previous vintages. It is an impressive wine and it will be interesting to see what Cloudy Bay’s new winemaker, Nikolai St-George, comes up with next year.

Here is my review

2020 Cloudy Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
Marlborough has the highest percentage of any wine region on Earth  dedicated to Sauvignon Blanc with over 70% of its vineyards dominated by the vibrant personality of this white grape. This latest vintage will be remember for many reasons, including the challenges of the global pandemic during harvest in New Zealand. Fortunately, this barely impacted on Cloudy Bay because a dry, warm, sunny growing season led to reliable picking dates and most grapes were harvested before lockdown. The result is a bright, fresh and fruity dry Sauvignon with just over 2 grams per litre of residual sugar. A little (4%) barrel ferment adds body and complexity.
This is a very good quality wine from a very good, if tricky, vintage.