Cloudy Bay’s New Sauvignon Blanc Vintage 2021 Is Out
Cloudy Bay's Sauvignon Blanc Vineyards
© photo provided
It was the wine that changed New Zealand’s fortunes when it burst on the scene in 1985: full of vibrant freshness and tropical notes – a Sauvignon Blanc like the world had never seen it before.
At the time, just 2,000 tonnes of Sauvignon Blanc were harvested across New Zealand and there were five wineries in Marlborough. In 2020, 326,058 tonnes were harvested and turned into wine by 158 wineries. Such was the impact this new wine style had. Today, it is established as a classic of the New World, emulated by wineries across the globe.
Te Koko new release
White also presented the latest vintage of Cloudy Bay’s limited edition Sauvignon Blanc Te Koko 2019. This wine is only made in exceptional years, the most recent release was the 2016 vintage. Te Koko is a different style of Sauvignon Blanc: being hand-harvested, spontaneously fermented in wood, then aged in a mixture of stainless steel and barrel, it is a rounder, less vibrant but more profound expression of Sauvignon Blanc.
The grapes for this wine are sourced from Cloudy Bay’s oldest vines in the Wairau Valley – soils so poor that the farmers used to joke that “even the rabbits came here with a packed lunch.” Now the free-draining, gravelly soils are ideal for Marlborough’s expanse of Sauvignon Blanc. Speaking about Te Koko, White said that “what we try to do is retain purity in the wine as well as build texture. Te Koko should be all about layers and texture and we are looking for longevity.”
In order to demonstrate the ageability of the wines, older vintages of both wines were tasted. If you could restrain yourself from drinking all your Cloudy Bay as soon as possible and still have some older vintages, do not fret: the Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blancs have immense freshness and staying power while the Te Koko wines almost demand being cellared for years. A taste of Te Koko 2003 proved as much.
Lower yield, outstanding quality
Presenting via video link, Cloudy Bay's technical director Jim White noted that the reduced yields of 2021 – 30% less Sauvignon Blanc compared to 2020 at Cloudy Bay – a result of poor fruit set after a difficult flowering, led to very concentrated grapes.
They benefitted from “a continuous thread of beautifully warm, dry conditions” later in the year to result in “outstanding quality.” He noted that both texture and concentration of the 2021 vintage of Cloudy Bay’s flagship Sauvignon Blanc was exceptional.
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