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Grass, gooseberry and lemon peel




If I were to say grass, gooseberry, lemon peel, asparagus, acacia, geranium, chamomile, grapefruit, lime and even smoke (hence fumé blanc in California and pouilly fumé in France) you might develop a thirst for a glass of sauvignon blanc.

It will be some time before we understand Covid-19's effects on the wine trade; for instance New Zealand saw a significant 17 per cent increase in their wine exports in March with almost 90 per cent being sauvignon blanc. Even though this country accounts for less than two per cent of the world's overall wine production I would think that they supply about seven per cent of our wine imports, the majority being sauvignon blanc.

Ten years ago France had roughly 59,000 acres planted and New Zealand 35,000, but today's figures seem to show France at 65,000 and New Zealand ahead at 70,000.

I will suggest some of my favourites. Our most asked for Loire wine is Pascal Jolivet Sancerre 2018; #7801 that sells for $31.85, but he makes a few other limited volume wines such as the one James Suckling describes in this way: “A wine of style marked by richness, elegance and smoothness with perfumes of flint and citrus zest. This is powerful and presents a perfect balance. The body is full with refreshing acidity to balance the wine which has the classic purity of citrus and nettle fruit found in top quality Sancerre. Appetising with a mineral character.”

The American wine critic is describing Jolivet 2017 les Cailottes Sancerre. Cailottes is the name given to the Kimmeridgian limestone that covers about one third of Sancerre vineyards. This winery uses biodynamic methods. $36; #7808.

The best way to perceive differences in wines is to taste them side by side and Michael Seresin in New Zealand is one of the few there that has biodynamic certification. His wines are as pure as you can get. Seresin 2018 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc follows their practice of adding a little semillon, as they do in Bordeaux and, again as they do in Bordeaux, Seresin is partially aged in used oak to add a subtle influence. Look for yellow stone-fruit, soft passion fruit, ripe gooseberries, guava and a chalky-mineral complexity. $27.65; #8714.

To set the mood, why not do what so many are doing at home now and watch a movie where Michael was the cinematographer. They range from Angela's Ashes to Midnight Express to Gravity to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and even Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. There are so many and he is so talented.

Henri Bourgeois really nailed it with their Les Baronnes 2018 Sancerre that neared perfection with a 96/100 rating from Decanter magazine. Their description reads: “Intense aromatics of white flowers, flint and lime. Full and rich with ripe citrus, pine-needle and smoky minerality. Lovely concentration with a refreshing long finish.” It is subtle but also powerful. $31.80; #7764.

Auntsfield continues the proud heritage of Marlborough's first vineyard and winery established in 1873. Their single-vineyard wines are made from grapes grown at Auntsfield Estate. Each wine shows the distinctive characteristics of ripeness, texture and minerality.

The Auntsfield Single Vineyard 2019 Sauvignon Blanc has recently arrived, and it offers lifted and pure aromas of passion fruit, ripe citrus and lime leaf and notes of fresh and dried herbs; gooseberry and redcurrant add pungency and intensity to the aromatics. Powerful, tight and elegant. The palate has intense concentration and generous weight, balanced by an underlying minerality and tight structure to shape a wine with lively tension and textural balance. Master of Wine Michael Cooper rates it 91/100. $21.30; #7968.

Henri Bourgeois Petit Bourgeois 2018 Sauvignon Blanc offers us the opportunity of experiencing what a top producer can offer at a more modest price. This wine is delightful and could be considered a mini sancerre that is fresh, lifted and zingy with plenty of ripeness. Wine Enthusiast magazine calls it “soft, easy and emphasising fruit and freshness and finishing with a smooth, rounded aftertaste”. $21.35; #7923.

Jolivet owns five acres of the 22-acre Le Roc vineyard and this Sancerre is vinified in concrete egg-shaped tanks that are all the rage now, especially with those folks that practice organic and biodynamic methods, as Jolivet does.

My original explanation, from a biodynamic producer in Oregon, was that the wine is “born from an egg, like much of life”. There are details on the benefit of concrete and also the shape of the tank causing the fermenting juice to better integrate at a molecular level. Heavy stuff! Pascal Jolivet 2017 Le Roc Sancerre is $49.85; #7806. The thought of it brings back fond memories of driving in France with Pascal in his Maserati sports car.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George (York Street, 297-0409). Visit

Picture-perfect: Michael Robinson has fond memories of driving through Sancerre, France




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Published June 05, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated June 05, 2020 at 2:01 pm)

Grass, gooseberry and lemon peel

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