A Sauvignon Blanc comparison – NZ and Aus

An unsurprising outcome…….

Secret Stone 2004 (NZ) vs Cannibal Creek 2004 (Australia)

As expected, the more popular wine was the NZ sauvignon blanc from the famous Marlborough region. That is not to say that the Australian wine was ordinary, just that the NZ wine is a more popular style in the easy-to-enjoy fresh, fruity and vibrant mold.

Sauvignon blanc exhibits aromas and flavours from ‘green’, tannic and stalky flavours for under-ripe examples, through a delicious range of cut grass, apple, bell-pepper, citrus, redcurrant, gooseberry, kiwi-fruit, peach, passionfruit, pineapple and lychee for those examples with beautifully ripened fruit. Riper examples tend to show more mango, stewed/fermented tropical fruit or indeterminate fruit salad-like characters.

We tasted two sauvignons blanc at one of our recent fortnightly wine comparisons. A panel of marketers with the opportunity to express their thoughts, opinions and evaluation of two styles of the same variety gathered to compare the market-leading Marlborough example of sauvignon blanc and an Australian alternative. The value of these panels is to identify the differences in two wines of the same variety or style. We take a market-leading example and an alternative wine to compare. The goal is to appreciate the qualities that the market values in the market leader and identify what the alternative wine presents to the market.

The NZ wine was the 2004 Secret Stone, from Marlborough and the Australian wine was the 2004 Cannibal Creek, from the Gippsland region of Victoria. Both wines exhibited typical characteristics of sauvignon blanc. The NZ wine was more in the aperitif style, with more apparent acidity, notes of grass and green capsicum, followed by a citrus, peach and passionfruit fruit -driven flavour. The finish was long and clean, with apparent residual sugar. The Australian wine had less of the green characters, showing more of the kiwi-fruit, gooseberry, peaches and cream palate. The Australian wine was clearly intended to be consumed with food. It had lower acidity and a more developed palate for the slices of oven-baked bread and ‘Edith’s’ goats cheese we enjoyed with it. The cheese really brought out the best of the Australian wine.

On the day, the NZ example was preferred by most of the panel. As an aperitif style, Marlborough sauvignon blanc is second-to-none. The Australian producer could focus on the textural qualities of their wine, or more specifically, its synergistic combination with goat’s cheese, pesto or other sauvignon blanc fare such as a char-grilled autumn vegetable salad, white asparagus, citrus zest and toasted breadcrumbs or freshly shucked oysters.

In short, neither wine was a poor example of the variety. Both were prime examples of sauvignon blanc as a wine variety. There are better examples of the variety out there, but there are also many wines of lesser quality. Drink up and enjoy!


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