Their ‘Wild Valley’ range has just been launched with two wild fermented wines we’ve had the opportunity to review: the 2014 Marlborough Wild Valley Pinot Noir and the 2015 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc tasted here.
Wild Fermented means that no selected yeasts have been added to the grape juice to inoculate and start the fermentation (like you would for making bread for example).
Selected yeasts, also called commercial yeasts, are particular strains of yeasts identified in laboratories as having great characteristics for making wines, releasing positive flavors during fermentation, and for obtaining a safe level of control over the fermentation process. They are a safe and positive choice for making quality wines.
On the other hand, when the yeasts that are naturally present in the vineyard on the grape skins (the wild ones) are left to run the fermentation by themselves, many different natural strains of yeasts develop in the wine. This increases the risk of faults developing in the wine during the winemaking process (e.g. bad smells, risky levels of residual sugars). But if conditions are well controlled (temperature, hygiene), wild yeasts actually allow for a greater level of complexity in the wines, because the fermentation is done by different yeast types, each of them having its own aromatic and texture-adding characteristics.
Wild fermentations are particularly uncommon on Sauvignon Blanc wines. This grape variety and the resulting wines, are indeed aromatically much impacted by the type of yeast that ferments them. Winemakers most generally prefer the safest choice of fermenting the wines with selected yeasts they know work well, rather than taking the risk of problems with natural strains from the vineyards. Wild ferments are a lot more common on Chardonnay for example, where additional layers of aromas are often welcome to enhance the relative aromatic neutrality of the grape flavor profile.
I was therefore particularly interested in tasting this Wild Valley Sauvignon, a short few months only after the harvest of vintage 2015.
But have the wild yeasts made a difference, provided an extra level of complexity and interest as they’re supposed to, and brough this Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc out of the ordinary?
As always, the answer is in the tasting notes:
Nose: Intense and very charming fruity aromas: freshly cut-pear is marked, surrounded by explosive notes of fruity passion fruit and boxwood (buis). A touch of elderflower, grass, and cream. Fresh, complex and appealing nose. Will benefit from opening an hour or two prior to tasting or decanting.
Palate: Lean, driven by sharp acidity but well-balanced by the right amount of body (mid-bodied), and an almost-imperceptible touch of sweetness. The wine is perfectly balanced overall, and holds well in the mouth allowing to enjoy the many flavors without the acidity becoming too dominant on the palate (which can sometimes be the case in NZ Sauv Blanc).
Flavors are layered on the palate, revealed one after the other: it’s fresh (from esters), intense (typical Marlborough passion fruit and grassy characters), spicy (white pepper, nutmeg), and a bit buttery (toasted brioche). Overall, aromatically, the wine feels just in between savory and sweet (same amount of both type of aromas really) which makes it enjoyable on its own but would also go very well with food.
Conclusion: A fantastically lean Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, perfectly balanced, layered, complex and quite long. Easy to drink, but also delivering quantity and quality of flavors for connoisseurs to appreciate.
Very good. The natural wild yeasts and their winemaker shepherds have done the trick here!
Find this wine to buy on Wine-Searcher.
Find out more about the producing winery on Stoneleigh wines producer profile.