I have long held concern for people that limit themselves to drinking only Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. With this is in mind, I have a cunning plan. I have thought about weening people of this wine, rather like moving a baby from breast milk to formula. Instead of immediately suggesting another variety, I would like to merely suggest a different region – slowly does it.
Josef Chromy’s Sauvignon Blanc from Relbia, just outside of Launceston in Tasmania’s north, is a good place to start.
According to Jeremy Dineen, Chief Winemaker at Josef Chromy, from a climactic viewpoint, Marlborough and Relbia are quite similar. It is the ancient soils of this region and Jeremey’s treatment of these grapes, which make it stand out from what many of us consider to be ‘the norm’ when it comes to sauvignon blanc.
The grapes are picked ripe, and therefore alcohol levels are higher, which Jeremy says “bypasses the herbaceous, green capsicum flavours”. Instead, what is derived are more tropical notes. We are talking about stone-fruit, guava even. There does, however, remain a citrus backbone which one expects from a cool-climate wine such as this.
There is yet another point of difference. these grapes are fermented with a relatively high percentage of yeast in the tank. This will “round out and really soften the flavours”, says Jeremy.
So, we have a sauvignon blanc that not only has tropical nuances, but real texture and length. There is a famous wine writer who once said that sauvignon blanc reminded them of “cats pee on a gooseberry bush”! Well, NOT on Jeremy’s watch!
Prawn, pea and lemon risotto. Without having to make this exact dish, aim for a crustacean for a little sweetness, a vegetable for texture, citrus to balance and something to tie it all together, like a risotto or a pilaf.
This article first appeared in the Australia Times Gourmet Magazine.