The title already alludes to this. The first "Sauvignon Blanc Celebration" in February 2016 was not meant to be a conference, but instead more of a celebration. And that was then also the mood that resounded. In Marlborough New Zealand, the speakers tried to sum up the identity of the variety using catchy names and came up with images of "loveable Labrador" of the wine scene, to "Pizza Margherita" and right through to "rock star". Due to the "meteoric rise", someone even put forward the comparison with David Bowie.
They were all probably right. In one way or another. The recognition value of the gooseberry-litchi-passion fruit note is reliably high, particularly in the fresh-fruity variants. "A good Sauvignon Blanc", raved book writer and TV presenter Oz Clarke, "puts a smile on your lips". Currently, also more and more with some bubbles. Sparkling Sauvignon Blancs meet a wide taste span for accessible wines. Other winemakers, such as Pinot Noir specialist Schubert, produce the variety with a depth of richness generated through fermenting in oak casks. When harvested shortly before being fully ripe, notes of fresh grass and bitter herbs can also be detected. What is otherwise criticised as being unripe in other grape varieties, in the case of Sauvignon Blanc it is regarded as being chic. That is practical for the winemaker. Despite the variety being prone to diseases, the cultivation and ageing are mostly free of storage and cheap to complete. Decent quality wines are available starting from just a few euros.
Indeed, the Sauvignon Blanc has been one of the very large global success stories since the late 20th century. It can certainly be said that it began in New Zealand. The first vineyard there was planted with Sauvignon Blanc in 1973. Starting in the 1980s, the fruity wines started to become popular internationally. In particular, the cold fermented style with lots of fruit and freshness left many competitors in its wake. Between the sweet varieties from California and the overly neutral tasting wines from the Mediterranean region, a Sauvignon Blanc was always a very pleasant exception.
That a high concentration and depth can exist in conjunction with a precise fruit was first proven by Cloudy Bay. The vineyard was founded in 1985 in the Marlborough region, from which most of the Sauvignon Blancs still originate today, and started bottling wines which would soon be counted among the very best in the world. They are the reference with which to judge the quality of the grape. An almost unique rise, which at the same time marked the replacement of the heavy cask-characterised Chardonnays of the 1990s. Marlborough still stands for a clear fruit-emphasised style right up until today.
Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is stocked among the premium segment in many countries, and in the United Kingdom it is even the market leader. Even in Germany, where New Zealand wines only occupy a niche segment, 85 percent are Sauvignon Blancs. Wine production today is worth in the region of €900 million to the New Zealand economy and is the country's 6th largest export product, and the winemakers aim to double the volume by the year 2020. The vines already grow very tightly together in Marlborough. The spaces where new vines could be planted are limited. But regions like those in Hawke’s Bay are increasing - not only the area of grapes being grown but also the quality. The cool-sunny climate that prevails on New Zealand's two islands allows the grapes to ripen while maintaining the acidity and is practically ideal for this particular type of grape vine. The lust-for-life mentality of the New Zealanders also definitely matches. Evidence of this is the fact that after developing the new Sauvignon Blanc style, they then came up with bungee jumping.