#WOTW: Celebrate Sauvignon Day with this double act
When I worked for the Beeb, we had a big boss who loved ‘themed’ coverage, devoting acres of airtime to a particular subject, in the hope of enriching the audience. Thus, we found ourselves announcing, to bemused viewers, that it was ‘China week’, or ‘EU subsidies day’, whilst those at home presumably thought: “no it isn’t, it’s Monday”.
Grapes somehow warrant similar treatment. I’m afraid to say I completely missed ‘Malbec Day’ last week, but it’s virtually impossible to ignore Sauvignon Blanc’s turn today, thanks to the spirited efforts of the PRs whose job it is to remind us. I’m not sure who chose the day (presumably there’s a room full of experts working their way through the calendar somewhere, imbibing as they go), but it’s the perfect point in the year to be celebrating Sauvignon, as spring turns into early summer, blossom bounces out of the hedgerows and the colour spectrum turns to fifty shades of green. At this tricky time, there’s something really life-affirming about this turn of the seasons and Sauvignon Blanc makes the perfect fit.
Just over a year ago, I enjoyed one of the more enlightening ‘masterclasses’ I’ve attended, where grape scientist Dr Jamie Goode and Master of Wine Rebecca Gibb teamed up to contrast Sauvignon Blanc from its adopted home in New Zealand with its native Loire Valley. My colleague at The Buyer wrote all about it, but – in a nutshell – we learnt that some of the differences in style are pretty obvious, but others can confound us.
Conventional wisdom tells us that the Loire offers more steely restraint – think Sancerre – whilst New Zealand offers a bigger blast of aromas and flavours – think Marlborough – but it’s actually a bit more nuanced.
For today’s Wine of the Week, I have chosen a ‘double bill’ to make the point. From the Loire’s Touraine region, ‘Les Sauterelles’ 2019 from Lionel Gosseaume (£12.50 at Lea & Sandeman), a delicious wine that’s relatively restrained on the nose (for Sauvignon), with fresh citrus and wet flint, but broader and fuller-fruited on the palate, with gooseberry, juicy grapefruit and a hint of flat leaf parsley. Yealands Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (£11.59 at Waitrose), from Awatere Valley, on the south-eastern seaward side of Marlborough, hits you with a familiar blackcurrant leaf and nettle nose, but there’s so much more to it, a complex feast of tropical flavours, passionfruit and guava, all beautifully balanced with crisp citrus acidity and a blast of sea spray, perhaps reflecting the vineyard’s proximity to the Pacific. You’re probably familiar with the ‘regular’ Yealands Sauvignon Blanc, a well made wine, but it’s worth trading up.
For food matches, the natural fit for a Touraine Sauvignon is one of my favourite dishes, grilled goat’s cheese croutons on a bed of leaves, with toasted pine nuts. The Kiwi option can embrace a bit of chilli, making it the perfect pairing for a Thai green or yellow curry.