The foun­da­tions for New Zealand’s sauvi­gnon blanc suc­cess were laid by a vi­sion­ary wine­maker in the 70s, says JOHN BELSHAM.

Cuisine - - CONTENTS -

New Zealand sauvi­gnon blanc and New Zealand rosé

IN THE EARLY 1970S Ross Spence, the wine­maker and found­ing part­ner of Matua Val­ley Wines, res­cued a sin­gle sauvi­gnon blanc vine from the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture trial plot in Te Kauwhata. The vine was im­ported from the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Davis in 1970 but was not con­sid­ered to be of com­mer­cial in­ter­est at the time. Ross har­vested some wood from this vine just be­fore the en­tire trial plot was de­stroyed. Some of the re­sul­tant cut­tings were planted in Marl­bor­ough and have sub­se­quently pro­vi­sioned al­most all of New Zealand’s sauvi­gnon blanc vine­yards.

Forty-five years is not very long in viti­cul­ture terms and dur­ing this time it is re­mark­able how this va­ri­ety has de­vel­oped to be­come the pow­er­house of New Zealand wine. New Zealand sauvi­gnon blanc is now so in­ter­na­tion­ally avail­able that it risks slid­ing from a po­si­tion of unique­ness to be­ing merely a com­mod­ity. It is vi­tally im­por­tant that we re­spect its brief and ex­cit­ing his­tory and to gen­uinely value this jewel in our na­tional wine cel­lar. This tast­ing demon­strates how very spe­cial these wines can be when made with skill and de­vo­tion. Thank you Ross for your green fin­gers and for your vi­sion!

Law­sons Dry Hills, Blind River vine­yard

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