While we all know the famous Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc wine style, it is less obvious to many that in New Zealand, low-alcohol wine is becoming a thing.
The NZ wine industry and government have been investing over the past few years in research to devellop wines, from the iconic Sauvignon Blanc in particular, with a lower-than-usual yet natural alcohol content.
This is how Spy Valley, the producing winery of today’s wine explains how this is achieved:
“Grapes are carefully picked from our family vineyards just when they show their true ripening character. The tiger is let loose in the winery where the wine is naturally crafted to express the fruit and not gain alcohol.”
More seriously, a series of techniques are applied from the vineyard to the winery to: first obtain ripe grapes with less sugar content, then ensure sugars are less-efficiently transformed into sugar by yeasts (lower temperature of fermentation, yeast selection, and else).
The date of harvest is obviously a fundamental factor to obtain fruit that is less sweet but still with a ripe-like aromatic profile.
Whatever the exact technicalities, it is important to note that this type of low alcohol wine is produced naturally, without removing alcohol from a ‘normal’ wine as it’s sometimes done.
But is this Low-Cal Low-Alcohol Marlborough Sauv Blanc still a NZ ‘Savvy’?
The answer is in the tasting notes:
One thing is sure, you can’t spot the low alcohol content of this wine by the appearance. It’s typically pale yellow, with a slight green hue.
The nose doesn’t betray the lighter nature of the wine either. Plenty of exuberant sweaty passion fruit like you expected from a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. It’s grassy, grapefruity, and also estry with resfreshing notes of pear.
Only on the palate do you feel the lighter body and more airy weigth of the wine. The backbone is on the acidity, but it’s not particularly aggressive. No more than most Marlborugh Sauv Blanc wines.
A complete wine then: powerfully aromatic, sharp, crisp, and acidic, with 9.5% ABV. Not a great deal of depth, but enjoyable and refreshing.
When to Drink?
Well now. THis is not a wine intended for ageing for for short term enjoyment. In the course of the new year 2016 then.
Like a classic Marlboroug Sauv, pair with fresh appetizers and entrees, seafood dishes or even Asian cuisine.
Variety: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Harvest Date: 10-30 March 2015
Brix at Harvest: 14.0 – 20.9
Viticulturist: Adam McCone
Soils: Well drained shallow, stony and silty alluvial soils
Winemakers: Paul Bourgeois and Richelle Collier
Winemaking: After picking and gently pressing, three vineyard blocks are fermented separately in barrels and tanks before blending and bottling.
Learn more about the producing winery with our Spy Valley Wines producer profile: