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Wine of the Week for week ending 26 October 2003
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Vavasour Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2002
Marlborough, New Zealand

If you are a follower of the pure style of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, then you probably won't like this wine, but if you like some obvious oak to soften the racy of flavours of Marlborough sauvignon while adding additional flavour, body and richness, then you're simply going to love it. It's Sauvignon Blanc for non-savvie drinkers as well as those who love the variety in all its forms.

This is the Vavasour Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2002 from the company's original Awatere Valley vineyards on the seaward side of the main north-south highway that bridges further upstream. Vavasour were the pioneers of the Awatere Valley about 25 kilometres south of Blenheim, deciding in the mid-1980's to plant in the this more southerly and less fertile location than the now famous and more popular Wairau Valley. It took a while for other producers to cotton on to the fact that Vavasour were perhaps onto a good thing, now the Awatere is the next best thing since sliced bread, it seems. Take a terrific vintage like 2002 and the proof is in the wine.

Vavasour Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2002 is a pale gold coloured wine with a really interesting smoked stonefruit aroma and rich, peachy flavours. There's also something in here that reminds me of smoked nuts and meats. It's a multi-layered, ripe, oak-driven, textural wine that is rich and leesy with mellow peach and vanilla intertwined with waves of the classic sauvignon blanc flavour this variety gets as it starts to develop. It becomes quite caramelly on the finish and the peach and nectarine flavours linger beautifully. The oak adds complexity, richness and structure without taking anything away. It's a rounded, full-bodied, beautifully balanced, soft creamy wine that's tantalisingly smooth. I just love it.

Made to go with food, I think it go well with that traditional Sauvignon Blanc match, asparagus, especially when covered with some shavings of parmesan, a rich lemon beurre blanc or cholesterol-laden hollandaise. I would also match it to smoked chicken and smoked fish for something different. Winemaker Stu Marfell says drink it with any food you would usually drink Chardonnay with, but this is not a buttery wine.

So just how was it made? According to the notes the grapes were harvested at a ripe 24°Brix on the 5th April 2002 to be fermented and matured in older French oak for 6 months with weekly stirring of the spent yeast lees after fermentation was complete. Total time in oak was 9 months.

Where can you buy this wine? Vavasour Wines are marketed in several countries around the world so it's not only us Kiwis that get to try this pioneer's wines. Vavasour has just been sold so there's a new agent now - before it was handled by Glengarry so was available in the Glengarry stores. You may have to shop around, alternatively contact Vavasour via their Vavasour website - there's the agent list there too. I've been told a $29.95 recommended retail. It costs $27.50 from the cellar door but that's a bit far away for most of us.

Check out the Vavasour website for more information where you'll find interesting snippets of information, like why the label displays a rooster - it's part of the Vavasour family crest dating back to the time of William the Conqueror in 1066.

If you like this style of oaked sauvignon blanc you'll also like these wines - Te Awa Farm Frontier Sauvignon Blanc 2002 and Clearview Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2002, both from Hawkes Bay and Framingham Winemaker's Selection Marlborough Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2002 - available only from their cellar door.

© Sue Courtney
19 October 2003

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