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Thursday, 2 September 2010

JMS Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux 2009 - Laithwaites

I have never quite seen the point of aging Sauvignon Blanc in lots of new oak - in its unadulterated form, it has such a strong and distinctive personality that it doesn't really need the addition of oak. A good SB is crisp, aromatic and herbaceous - a really good one will also be minerally and full-bodied, too.

So then, what does oak bring to the party - on the plus side it will fill out the wine, giving it more body and texture, but it also blunts the aromatic edge, makes all those green, zingy, nettley aromas less pronounced. Far better, in my book, is to source grapes from more marginal climates so that the slower ripening gives the wine more body and complexity. Styria, in southern Austria, does some stunning examples, piercingly crisp, yet also full-bodied, minerally and balanced on the finish. Away from Oyster Bay, NZ also does some full-yet-crisp-and-minerally versions, too.

The Laithwaites website crows that this is a "remarkable, oak-aged big brother to Laithwaite Sauvignon - white wine fans must try this! ... only a few barrels made!"

Hmmmmmmm, for me this is (like most Laithwaites wines) well made and pleasant enough, but somewhat bland and overpriced; at £9.99, it certainly is not an everyday wine, but I would want something a little more impressive for a special occasion.

The Laithwaites website notes that the wine has an IWC award - well, strictly speaking it does, but what it actually has is a commendation, this being the lowest of the awards the judges can give for between 80 and 84 points out of 100, which is rather a case of damning with faint praise. It also has a nod of some sort from Decanter.

Links

Laithwaites - http://www.laithwaites.co.uk/

This wine on Laithwaites - http://www.laithwaites.co.uk/DWBase/jsp/article/index.jsp?productId=prod820815

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