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Wine of the Week for week ending 27th July 2003
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Lawson's Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2003
Marlborough, New Zealand

I was down at my local wine shop on Friday and there was this bottle of Lawsons Dry Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2003 on the counter. "Have you tasted it?" the wine shop owner asked? "No, but I sure would love to", I replied. "Well open it and try it, it's going on the sample table anyway".

So I took it over to the table where glasses were lined up for tasters to use and cracked the screwcap with a quick little turn. The wineshop owner watched approvingly then started to tell me a story.

"One of my customers is an older guy and I recommended to him a screwcapped wine but he didn't want to know because he had tried screwcaps before and couldn't open them".

"So no doubt you educated him", I said.

"Yes, I told him to take a bottle and try again, to hold the base of the bottle in one hand, the cap in the other and turn the bottle not turn the cap - because turning the bottle gives the leverage. He came back a few days later to buy some more, going on about how easy they were to open, once he knew how. 'No problemo', he said".

And that's the trick isn't it? Once you know how to do it, it becomes second nature.

I smelt the wine in the newly opened bottle - aah, the allure of fresh Sauvignon Blanc with gooseberries and lemons leaping out of the tight confines of the bottle aperture. But not so aromatic as in "fill the room with sauvignon blanc aromas" style when poured into the glass. No doubt as to the variety with its vibrant gooseberry, grass and herbs but just a little subdued. "That's screwcaps for you - it will open up a little with aeration", I thought.

So I put the wine in my mouth and Wap Bam Kapow Zowee! An explosion of flavours blasted the tastebuds. Utterly fantastic. Nothing at all subdued about the power and pungency of flavours that filled the mouth with gooseberries, lime, pineapple and a prickly spicy grassy herbaceousness. It's a rich, concentrated wine with a slightly oily texture and a smoky passionfruit-like backbone. A hint of oak brings out some toasty mealy like nuances on the rich, long, pungent, full-bodied finish that has surges of sweetened citrus, apple, gooseberry and banana passionfruit - just when you think the its fading, one or all of those flavours come back.

"This is delicious. I could drink a big glass of this", I said. But it was the middle of the day and I had an appointment to get to. As I drove, the wine stayed in my thoughts. I wished I had a bottle to review for my Wine of the Week. I wanted to see how it developed. Well I must have rubbed the genie's lantern for when I arrived home there was a sample bottle waiting for me and it didn't take long before that big glass was poured.

Fennel is one of my favourite matches for Sauvignon Blanc flavours and fresh fennel is in season right now. So that's what I cooked for dinner. Fennel braised in Sauvignon Blanc with Sauvignon Blanc is like young lovers before they get married. Check out my Fennel recipes here.

Now for the technical stuff. Grapes were picked over 3 weeks from 10 different sites in the Wairau Valley and fermented in separate batches, which allowed winemaker Mike Just to use different yeasts to further enhance complexity. Eight per cent of the blend was fermented in old French oak of varying ages. There is also about 10% of Semillon in the blend. It has 13% alcohol, 7.6 g/l of titratable acid and 3.6g/l residual sugar - ah, so that's why there was that sweetness was on the finish!

17,100 cases were made so this wine will be widely available at home and perhaps abroad. It's recommended retail is $20.95 on the home market. Find out more from the website.

I love savvie when its young and fresh like this so I'll be interested to taste it again in a few months time. Right now it has bought summer to my winter and some vinous excitement to my week.

Drink until this time next year - when the 2004 vintage will just be out.

© Sue Courtney
20 July 2003

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