edited by Sue Courtney
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Marlborough, New Zealand
On Friday 25th May I tried the first commercial release of the new vintage - it was a Kim Crawford McLean Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2001.
We pulled the light tan synthetic cork from the bottle and poured the wine.
In the glass the colour was pale - so pale it might almost be mistaken for water.
But there was no mistaking that this was Sauvignon Blanc on the nose with its zingy aromas of lemon, summer herbs and hints of gooseberry, or was that passionfruit?
My very first impression from the first sip of this 2001 wine was that is was like biting into a crisp granny smith apple with lemon juice squeezed over it. Fresh and crisp but almost too searingly acidic for me to enjoy more than a glass without food. However, the underlying textural quality was there.
This was a totally interesting wine. Bright summer herbs mingled with zesty acidity and a hint of stone fruit sweetness, gooseberry too.
The flavours changed as we sipped. At first it seemed tart with the acid just too astringent - like tannins - leaving a dryness coating my teeth and on the back palate. However, the more the mouth got used to it the easier it became to drink. It had an alluring 'moreish-ness'.
It has an amazingly long finish as well, with a hot, flinty, 'fumé-like' connotation.
This wine is way too young and will benefit from a couple more months in the bottle. So I poured some into one of my 187ml screw capped airline bottles and we are finishing it off tonight (Sunday 27th). The acids have mellowed a little while the gooseberry is more pronounced. There's some pineapple emerging and a ripe fruit sweetness. The finish is still amazingly long.
The back label says the grapes were machine harvested at night from Peter McLeans and Adrienne Fairhall McLean's Riverbank Vineyard near the Wairau River in Marlborough. The wine was made in an oxidative style.
The recommended food matches are asparagus or oysters. Well asparagus is not in season until about October and I tried to buy some fresh Bluff oysters as I thought I'd squeeze this wine on to the oysters instead of lemon juice. But none were available due to the rough weather that has been hitting the bottom of the South Island. So we resorted to Terakihi accompanied by a capsicum and coriander risotto and used some of the wine for cooking the rice. This was a match of perfection.
I understand Kim Crawford McLean Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2001 was made especially for the liquor chain selling it, which gives them an interesting point of differentiation. Although the price at NZ$20 is a bit higher than we are used to for early released Sauvignon Blanc's. It is possibly an indication of the price hikes to come.
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