The past wine week has been a busy one for tasting. As social media ramps itself up, the frequency of tweet tasting has markedly increased. So try #LookSB.
Nepenthe Wines based in the Adelaide Hills, part of Australia’s second largest listed wine company – Australian Vintage, were shouting about their modifications made to sauvignon blanc by oak aging.
Now I think that anything a winery can do to this over-popular, under-delivering variety for drinkers is a bonus.
The interesting information to come out of the Nepenthe winemaking camp is that fermenting this variety tends to scavenge out that vegetable component of the sauvignon blanc varietal character-and give it less aroma punch and more creaminess.
Creaminess of course is the starter for texture, as we relate to with good chardonnay, which most sauvignon blanc does not have (only razor-like acidity).
Nepenthe had gathered three sauvignon blanc wines of interest to tweet about: their own Petraea, Taltarni Three Monks and Pascal Jolivet Sancerre.
All three were quite smart but due to the penetrating acidity of sauvignon I chose to munch on some hard goats cheese while tasting.
Wines are reported in order of preference to drink now, so it was a no brainer that wines that had settled were better drinks.
Taltarni Three Monks Fume Blanc 2010, 13% (USD 25.30); ++++; straw green, smells interesting, little vegetable and more florals, a good collection of aromas from the barrel though conservatively done, no funk, the palate is generous and interesting, creaminess and layers of flavour generated by production, and not the variety which is essentially simple.
The wine is 75% Pyrenees 25% Tasmania (north), 40% barrel fermented and aged for nine months, is dry. Taltarni commenced this style in the late 70s when Mondavi Fume Blanc of California was all the rage, continued it ever since under sauvignon blanc branding, and recently reverted to the original style. They are the style leader in Australia.
Nepenthe Petraea Sauvignon Blanc 2010, 12.5% (USD 31.60); +++1/2; straw green, lots of sauvignon smells, vegetable, cut-grass and florals, sits over the oak inputs on the nose, the taste is interesting, some cream, some vegetable, palate dryness from lees+barrel, just scrapes into the medium body class.
Nepenthe are experimenting; the ferments were in 2500 litre casks: (as I often see in Barolo) chasing wine texture, deliberately dumbing down the irrepressible character of sauvignon, yet applying oak in a delicate fashion from the low ratio of volume to surface area of cask.
Sancerre (Pascal Jolivet) 2009, 12.5% (USD 30); +++1/2; pale, straw, nose muted to reveal mainly the vegetable and earthy aromas of sauvignon from a very cold area, no oak presence, taste again vegetal but impressive in its fashioned finish, mineral, quartz, all sorts of acid remnants which give the talc, the acid drying impression of acidity which has flavour.
A smart wine having no similarity with the previous two save the common grape variety. This style is often also aged in old barrel but they impart little oak character, and serve to apply yeast lees driven texture and give the minerality an extra dimension. A highly stylish wine, totally together and linear in the mouth as a benchmark expression of sauvignon blanc.
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