Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon – October New Releases
Barry Weinman: 22nd October 2016
With Sauvignon Blanc, either alone or in combination with Semillon, the winemaker can have just as big an impact on the style as the terroir (vineyard location, soil weather etc.). The variations in style appear greater than with many other varietals.
Leaving the wine on its lees post fermentation (+/- stirring/batonage) as well as barrel fermentation and oak aging can impact in a number of ways. In small quantities (as little as 5% of the blend), this can add depth and texture to the wine.
As the proportion of the blend increases, the aromas and flavours can really change, moving away from the fresher, fruit-forward style to a powerful, serious wine that can show a variety of complex characters as well as obvious oak influences.
At the extreme, these wines can be challenging to drink, the minerality and secondary characters taking priority over the fruit. I prefer the middle ground, where the fruit is complemented by wonderful depth and complexity from the winemaking inputs.
In this month’s tasting, Fraser Gallop provided an excellent example of how good this style can be. The 2015 Paterre SSB has plenty of interesting characteristics, yet there is a core of quality fruit that offers immediate appeal.
In a different style, but equally enjoyable, is the Shaw + Smith. Here is a straight Sauvignon Blanc where the exuberant fruit really shines. The most enjoyable wine that I have tried under this label.
Fraser Gallop – Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc – Parterre – 2015 – (18pts – $35). This wine really stands out for both the quality fruit and the complex winemaking inputs. There is real depth and power here, with minerality, struck match and fresh lemon. The palate has a slightly viscous feel without being cloying. Excellent.
Shaw + Smith – Sauvignon Blanc – 2016 (17.8pts). Very youthful, with a touch of retained CO2 adding verve. This has exuberant fruit and supple grassy overtones and a touch of nectarine. Good mouth-feel and decent length make for an excellent drink. Will make you want a second glass.
Singlefile – Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc – Great Southern – 2016 (17.5pts – $25). A fresh, lively wine with balance and poise. There are tropical fruits and gentle lantana aromas. A supple mouth-feel, perhaps aided by a touch of barrel ferment, leads on to lemony acid on the finish. Delicious.
Coward & Black – Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc – 2016 (17.5pts). Floral fruit, with tropical and grassy notes. Good length and mouth-feel, with apricot kernel and nutty notes to close. Balanced and textured, suggesting a little lees work. Try it on a sunny afternoon this spring.
Flametree – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – 2016 (17.2pts). Fresh and light, with grassy fruit characters and gentle nuttiness. The palate is long, with gentle zesty notes. Excellent drinking now
Xanadu – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – Exmoor – 2015 (17pts – $18). An exuberant nose showing gooseberry, lantana, tropical fruit salad and passionfruit. The palate is fresh, with racy acid and tropical fruit lingering on the close. Not overly long, but moreish and an interesting alternative to a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.