This year marks the 30th anniversary of the first vintage of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, a landmark celebration for Brancott and for the New Zealand wine industry. To mark this milestone, Brancott Vineyards, which is made by Montana Wines in Blenheim, is showcasing its range of world-renowned, vibrant, intensely-flavored, fruit-forward wines at various venues in the U.S.
The Los Angeles event took place at Philippe West Hollywood in October this year. Planned and hosted by The Tasting Panel Magazine, Brancott partnered with Waiwera Artesian Water, judged the Best Water in the World by Decanter in 2008, and Chef Christophe Happillon of Oyster Gourmet, to present the recent releases of their wines. One of Brancott’s team of talented winemakers, Patrick Materman, former New Zealand Winemaker of the Year, was on hand to discuss the winery and the wines. The food-friendliness of the wines was very evident when paired with the wonderful fresh oysters being opened by Happillon as well as with the delightful Chinese hors d’oeuvres being passed by the staff of Philippe. Philippe, recently opened in West Hollywood, is the latest addition to Philippe Chow’s famous restaurants located in Manhattan, Mexico City and Miami.
In the early 1970s, Montana Wines planted the first commercial vineyard in Marlborough and created New Zealand’s first varietal wine with Gisborne Chardonnay. The first vintage of the original Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc was 1979. The Brancott range includes four different types of wine, the Classics, the Reserves, the Letter Series and the Terroir Series. The Classic wines, intense and lively, are the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Gisborne Unoaked Chardonnay, and Pinot Grigio, Riesling and Pinot Noir all sourced from the South Island.
The Reserve Wines, crafted to showcase the famous wine region of Marlborough, are Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Named after Brancott’s key estates, the Letter Series wines, blends from vineyard blocks in a particular region: “B” Brancott Sauvignon Blanc, “P” Patutahi Gewurztraminer and “T” Terraces Pinot Noir, are hand-crafted, made only in exceptional years and cellared prior to release. Limited release wines from specific, small vineyard blocks, the Terroir Series, which focuses on the same group grown in different regions to display the influence of terroir — the soil, topography and climate, includes Conders Forest, Festival Block and Rail Bridge, all made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape.
The 2009 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, light straw with green highlights, offers aromas and flavors of ripe gooseberry, grapefruit and pineapple with nuances of tropical fruit and pepper. A refreshing wine that wakes up the taste buds, the rich fruit intensity is balanced with a lively acidity, ending in a crisp finish. Drink young or up to three years to enjoy the bright fruit.
The 2008 Gisborne Unoaked Chardonnay, light yellow in color, made in a fruit-driven style, with a subtle complexity, displays fresh, intensely-flavored pineapple, citrus, passion fruit and crisp apple. It is rich and ripe, with a finely balanced acidity.
The 2007 South Island Pinot Noir, bright red, reveals aromas of dark cherry, black and red berries, oak and spice that translate well to the palate. The lively fruit is delicate, velvety-textured, balanced and subtly complex, ending in a fruit-laden finish.
The 2008 Marlborough Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, light straw, is redolent of ripe stone-fruit flavors with aromas of gooseberry, grapefruit, pineapple, lemon grass and fresh herb, with an underlying minerality. The similar palate is stylish, showing good concentration and a lovely texture — a delightful Sauvignon Blanc.
The 2008 “B” Brancott Sauvignon Blanc, light straw, has scents and tastes of grapefruit and melon, accented with vanilla, pepper and a mineral character. It has a layered complexity and is well-balanced and concentrated, with a crisp acidity — a refreshing and lovely wine.
The 2009 “B” Brancott Sauvignon Blanc, light straw, shows a lovely aroma/flavor spectrum of gooseberry, capsicum, mineral and citrus. It is rich, balanced and concentrated, with an oily texture and a crisp acidity. If you like Sauvignon Blancs, don’t miss this wine!
The 2007 “T” Terraces Pinot Noir, a lovely red color, offers a cornucopia of rich, dark berry and black cherry fruit and plum, laced with spice, oak, violets and toast, ending in a silky chocolate finish. It is complex, balanced, harmonious and concentrated, with soft tannins.
The 2007 Conders Forest Sauvignon Blanc, pale straw hue, has aromas of pineapple, grapefruit, melon and mineral that carry through to the mouth, with the addition of sweet, ripe tropical fruit. It is elegant, complex, balanced and crisp, with excellent length and a natural acidity.
All of the wines tasted were fresh and clean, bright and vivacious, imbued with bold, ripe, intense fruit flavors and a lively acidity, with distinctive regional characteristics. Enjoy these wines with most dishes, especially seafood, grilled vegetables, Asian cuisine, chicken and even salads. They generally retail in a range of $11 to $25 and are great values, definitely worth seeking out.