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Wine of the Week for week ending 22 September 2002
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Lawsons Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2002
Marlborough, New Zealand

Sauvignon Blanc is dominating the tasting scene right now which is not surprising considering so many of the new vintage wines are being released. There was Wine New Zealand, the biggest wine trade fair in New Zealand, then the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Celebration that saw over thirty Marlborough producers visit Wellington and Auckland with their goodies. Add to that the various distributors strutting their stuff from their respective portfolios. So some of the wines I've ended up tasting several times.

And this week's 'Wine of the Week' is one of my favourites. I must have tasted it 5 or 6 times now and it never fails to disappoint. It is the Lawsons Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2002, sealed with a screwcap and that means consistency from bottle to bottle.

The intense grassy aromas leap out of the bottle as soon as the screwcap is removed then in the glass the pungent 'sweaty' and fruity aroma of the wine titillates the senses. In the mouth the wine is pungent, oily and richly flavoured with classic gooseberry, passionfruit and herb infused lemon oil concentrate. It's dry, vibrant and zingy with fantastic mouthfeel and a terrifically long length. As the wine is savoured all sorts of interesting flavours on that passionfruit, musky theme come into play.

I loved the Lawsons Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2001 on release but the 2000 vintage was an absolute classic and now the 2002 is back to its very best.

With 13 percent alcohol by volume, 2.1 grams of residual sugar and 7.5 grams of titratable acid, the balance is perfection. But the secret to the complexity is the small portion of the blend that was fermented in French Barriques and underwent malolactic fermentation.

One of the cries I hear against screwcaps by those who would rather be romanced by a possibly tainted cork, is that wines in screwcaps will take longer to age. This is not so with the first release of Lawsons Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc, the 2001, which I opened just the night before I first set eyes on a bottle of the 2002.

The Orewa Winetasters tasted the Lawsons Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2001 against another labelled Marlborough 2002 and the difference in flavour profile was tremendously obvious. While the 2002 had all the fresh bright characters of new vintage savvie, the Lawsons 2001 was definitely taking on a subtle peasy character. Straw yellow in colour, it had a smoky grapefruit peel aromas while in the mouth herbs, grapefruit, lemon oil and cut grass flavours combined with smoky oak - which was more obvious now than on release - and the developing peasy character. This is sauvignon blanc as I would expect it to be one year on from vintage. There is definitely no problem with bottle development under screwcap for this wine.

Lawson Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc seems to be available just about everywhere judging by the tasting notes I see on the world wide web. In NZ it is distributed by Montana which means it is a wine that will be available widely throughout NZ in both the wine shop and restaurant scene. It will cost about NZ$21 at the former.

For more information check out the website.

© Sue Courtney

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