Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Cloudy Bay “Te Koko” Sauvignon Blanc (2007)

Cloudy Bay is probably the vineyard more than any other that has made New Zealand (and Marlborough) Sauvignon Blanc the global success that it is today. Established in 1985, Cloudy Bay’s very first releases of Sauvignon Blanc received worldwide critical acclaim and today Cloudy Bay remains one of the most sought after brands of premium Sauvignon Blanc.

Whilst it was the Cloudy Bay “Estate” Sauvignon Blanc that really put Cloudy Bay and Marlborough on the international wine map, production quantities of the “standard” Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc have exploded (with fruit being drawn from grower and Cloudy Bay estate vineyards) and much of its individual character (and indeed rarity) that initially made it desirable have now been lost.

Thus it is this Cloudy Bay “Te Koko” Sauvignon Blanc, with its limited production and unusual production technique, which has become Cloudy Bay’s de facto “top” Sauvignon Blanc.

Whereas the “basic” Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc is vinified only in stainless steel, this 2007 Cloudy Bay “Te Koko” Sauvignon Blanc was fermented in French oak barrels and left in contact with the “lees” (waste products of fermentation) for around 18 months prior to bottling. Prior vintages of this Cloudy Bay “Te Koko” Sauvignon Blanc have shown low acidity, greater complexity and sometimes pronounced oak aromas and flavours as a result.

In the glass, this 2007 Cloudy Bay “Te Koko” Sauvignon Blanc is notably more golden in colour than both the “basic” Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc and indeed most Sauvignon Blanc. This illustrates the first influence of oak fermentation on this 2007 Cloudy Bay “Te Koko” Sauvignon Blanc. On swirling this 2007 Cloudy Bay “Te Koko” Sauvignon Blanc the legs are more visible than typical (a result of the richer hue) but the alcoholic content of this 2007 Cloudy Bay “Te Koko” Sauvignon Blanc is no higher than typical for Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (or indeed the “basic” Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc for that matter) at 13.5% abv.

The aromas of this 2007 Cloudy Bay “Te Koko” Sauvignon Blanc are complex, beguiling and distinctive. Whilst a typical Sauvignon Blanc herbaceousness is in evidence, with this 2007 Cloudy Bay “Te Koko” Sauvignon Blanc this is overlaid by notes of honey, white flower and an oak-derived toastiness. This 2007 Cloudy Bay “Te Koko” Sauvignon Blanc is individual and aromatic.

Once in the mouth, this 2007 Cloudy Bay “Te Koko” Sauvignon Blanc is similarly distinctive. The medium bodied and multi-layered palate of this 2007 Cloudy Bay “Te Koko” Sauvignon Blanc leads with papaya and lime (as one would expect from a Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc) before segueing into creamy white fruit, a touch of ginger and a hint of macadamia nut. Acidity in this 2007 Cloudy Bay “Te Koko” Sauvignon Blanc seems lower than with the “basic” Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc and the style is somewhat reminiscent of an American “fumé blanc” (which are typically oak fermented Sauvignon Blanc, like this 2007 Cloudy Bay “Te Koko” Sauvignon Blanc). A little smoky and toasted cedar again reminds one of this 2007 Cloudy Bay “Te Koko” Sauvignon Blanc’s unusual (for Marlborough at any rate) style of vinification.

Potential food matches for this 2007 Cloudy Bay “Te Koko” Sauvignon Blanc include fresh oysters, baked white fish, or goats cheese tarts.
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Cloudy Bay “Te Koko” Sauvignon Blanc (2007)

Score: 92/100 – This 2007 Cloudy Bay “Te Koko” Sauvignon Blanc is individual, characterful and utterly beguiling. Outstanding.

Value for Money: 7/10 – Little Sauvignon Blanc from around the globe offers the quality of this 2007 Cloudy Bay “Te Koko” Sauvignon Blanc. Those that do, tend to be priced around this level (in excess of £20 per bottle).
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