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Thursday, 19 May 2022

The CWB Sauvignon Blanc Off

Two very different Sauvignon Blancs - Loire and New Zealand

Sauvignon Blanc is perhaps somewhere at the "late majority" stage in its life cycle - selling in larger quantities than ever, but a bit, well, passé for the ultra-cool urban hipsters in search of the latest thing.

I'll be honest, even I don't drink that much Sauvignon these days.

And that's not because I don't like it. 

I do like Sauvignon; I like its crisp freshness, its aromatics and minerality; I like the way it responds the places it's grown in and the way it is made. It is a wonderful grape.

Yes, it's cool to be down on Sauvignon for being synonymous with "generic pub white", but when it's well made with character and individuality, it is a refreshing, complex and food-friendly mouthful.

Sauvignon's classic regions are the Loire and New Zealand; and it traditionally makes very different styles of wine in each region.

Loire Sauvignon is where it all started with that steely-flinty-smoky thing, while New Zealand is the new classic with its aromatic, zesty and tropical vibe.

Ultimately, it's a Old World palate vs New World aromatics distinction.

Both these wines are equally good on a technical level, so it really comes down to personal preference.

The Old World One

Domaine Jacky Marteau Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2019 Touraine AOC (£15 / £13, Avery's)

Touraine is situated next door to the Loire's Central Vineyards which includes renowned Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé. Touraine Sauvignons tend to be much better value.

Domaine Jacky Marteau is a fourth generation estate founded by Gérard Delaunay, the current owners' maternal great grandfather. Passed down the line, it has been run since 2010 by Rodolphe Marteau and his sister Ludivine.

Their vineyards on the left bank of the river Cher are ideal for Sauvignon. Picking at the peak of maturity and cool fermenting in stainless steel vats ensure lovely ripe fruit with super charged freshness.

gooseberry, grapefruit and citrus with nettles, cut grass, flintiness and a hint of white pepper; full and supple with green apple, grassiness, elderflower and melon fruit; deft and elegant with good savoury underpinnings.

Drinks nicely on first opening, but improves with aeration and will repay some cellaring.


Match with seafood or goat's cheese.

The New World One

Smith & Sheth CRU Sauvignon Blanc 2021 (£17, Tesco)

Smith & Sheth Cru Sauvignon Blanc, from Wairau, New Zealand, is made by Steve Smith MW, one of New Zealand wine’s most respected figures, and Brian Sheth, an investor and wildlife conservationist with a strong love for New Zealand.

They share a passion for fine wine and seek out the finest grapes from exceptional vineyards, crafting wonderful wines which show a sense of place, subtleties, and precision. 

Cru Sauvignon Blanc is made using the best grapes from two vineyards in Marlborough. A combination of machine and handpicked fruit, from mature vines grown in rocky soils around the town of Renwick is blended with biodynamically grown grapes from the cooler clay hillside of Churton vineyard.

Fermented at cooler temperatures in stainless steel, with a small portion wild fermented in oak.

gently pungent with lifted aromatic lime, grapefruit, grassiness and lemongrass with exotic fruits and pebbly sea spray; fresh lime juice, gooseberry, white stone fruit, guava, white pepper and citrus with linear acidity and saline minerality; concentrated, precise and complex.


Match with asparagus and goats’ cheese, meaty white fish, such as halibut, monk fish or bbq roasted prawns with a salad.


The Smith & Sheth CRU is also recommended by Joanna Simon, who says:

A cracking New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc; crackling with energy, flavour and texture. From a mature vineyard on gravelly soils around Renwick and a biodynamic vineyard on cooler, clay slopes in the southern valleys.

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