Sunday, August 26, 2007

Summer of Sauvignon Blanc Love

Sorry about the lapse in postings lately. But vacation is winding down, and I now have a chance to reflect on one our two recent tasting experiences, including some thoughts about one of my favorite summer wines -- sauvignon blanc.

One of the most poorly kept secrets of the past decade has been the superior quality of the sauvignon blancs from New Zealand. While some critics continue to sing their praises in an unrestrained fashion, I have been disappointed to learn that others are now noticing more mediocrity in the New Zealand wines they are tasting.

Whether this is due to a less exuberant 2006 vintage or to a more serious issue, I'm not really sure. But it's definitely not time to hit the panic button, if for no other reason than that the success of the New Zealand style is helping to usher in new levels of quality and tastiness in sauvignon blancs from many other locations, such as South Africa and Australia.

For example, I recently was impressed by a sauvignon blanc from Australia, the 2004 Jinks Creek Winery. While many think that this "sunburned country" makes only ultra ripe shiraz and cabernet very well, the reality is that Australian winemakers in the past decade have been nailing down which wines do really well in a variety of microclimates and terroirs. And, sauvignon blanc, it turns out, does extremely well in some areas of Australia.

The Jinks Creek sauvignon blanc is a delicious example of what Australia can do, with its rich tropical fruit, grapefruit and herb flavors. I found it less grassy than others, but truly enjoyable. The vineyard is located at the foothills of the Black Snake Ranges in Victoria's West Gippsland region. The granite soil, low yields, cool weather ripening and cool fermentation all combine to make a wine with real purity of flavor.

So, the good news is that there continues to be more and more options available for finding great examples of this perfect summer wine. And, bonus for those who enjoy great label art, the Jinks Creek wines feature the art of Australia's Esther Erlich.


Anonymous Betsy said...

You write very well.

8:42 AM  

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