2019 Cloudy Bay, Te Koko, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
Pale straw yellow. The lightest of oak notes on the nose but real texture underneath. I wonder what volume of this wine is made? It has much more delicacy than most white Pessac Léognans, for which the team should be credited, though it's definitely not as interesting as, say Ch Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc (at twice the price). Much, much subtler nowadays than some of the earlier vintages, though arguably the gustatory difference between this and the unoaked regular Cloudy Bay has been narrowing. I don't think I'd pay £40 for it.
Drink 2021 - 2026
Jancis Robinson, jancisrobinson.com (Dec 2021)
Pristine aromas of sliced limes, lemons, green melon and hints of lemon grass follow through to a full body with dense fruit, yet framed by a lightly phenolic texture that holds the whole thing together, tightening the fruit in the center-palate. Beautiful finish. One of the best ever. Drink now. Screw cap.
James Suckling, jamessuckling.com (Nov 2021)
A sophisticated trailblazing oak-matured sauvignon blanc, which retains tangy varietal character while adding subtle toast and ginger flavours from barrel maturation. A wonderful texture and a crisp, dry and lingering finish.
Drink 2021 - 2027
Bob Campbell, therealreview.com (Oct 2021)
About this WINE
Cloudy Bay was founded by David Hohnen in 1985, named for a stretch of coast north of the vineyards. An early pioneer of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, it was one of the first wineries to put New Zealand on the map internationally.
The Cloudy Bay portfolio now also includes Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pelorus (a traditional method sparkling wine) and the unique Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc, an evolution of the iconic Marlborough style. In Central Otago, Cloudy Bay works with two vineyards to make Te Wahi Pinot Noir.
Cloudy Bay has been part of the wider Louis-Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) portfolio since 2003.
New Zealand's answer to Napa Valley, Marlborough is a veritable engine room that in 2006 accounted for 47 percent (10,419 hectares) of the country's vines, and over 60 percent of its production, even though it is home to just 20 percent of the nation’s 530 wineries. Around 76 percent of the vineyards are planted with Sauvignon Blanc.
Located on the north-easterly tip of South Island at a latitude of 41.3 degrees South, the Marlborough flats are protected from the tropical north-westerlies by the Richmond Ranges, separating Marlborough from Nelson. It is similarly protected from the frost-bearing Antarctic south-easterlies racing up the eastern coastline by the Kaikoura Ranges. The region consequently experiences low rainfall, together with high sunshine hours and a significant diurnal shift between day and night temperatures, thus preserving the aromatics.
The Marlborough viticultural zone, now being delineated, actually consists of three sub-regions: the fertile, alluvial soils of the Wairau Valley on the northern side (site of the original Marlborough settlement in 1880, and subsequently to Montana in 1973) is constantly fed by a subterranean aquifer, resulting in an easy, tutti-frutti style of Sauvignon Blanc best exemplified by Hunters wine.
The Southern Valleys zone on the opposite side of the Valley comprise drier, stonier, poorer soils and clay knolls (such as those of the Brancott Valley), delivering a fuller, more structured, defined, gooseberry and limey Sauvignon Blanc with more bite and poise; Cloudy Bay (who put the region on the world map in 1985), Dog Point, Isabel Estate and the Winegrowers of Ara all inhabit this stretch of the Valley.
Lastly there’s the Awatere Valley, which is located across the Kaikouras on ancient black volcanic soils amid a cooler climate, with harvests often running two weeks behind those in the Wairau Valley; the Awatere style of Sauvignon Blanc is peachier and richer than elsewhere, with Vavasour a fine example.
Although most wines are vinified in stainless steel and released within 12 months of the harvest, some enterprising growers are trialling the use of oak barrels, especially when vinifying superior parcels of hand-harvested fruit. Dog Point Section 94 is one such wine.
The region is also home to the country's small sparkling-wine industry, employing the traditional method to vinify Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Some producers have sought to diversify into still Pinot Noir production, whilst using an inappropriate Swiss clone. A glance at what's been happening in Central.Otago and in Martinborough, however, has persuaded those serious producers to plant a greater selection of clones, notably 667, 777, Abel and 115, as well as the common Pommard (UCD 5) and 10/5. The result has been a shift from the classic Marlborough Pinot Noir spicy red fruit with its almost Côte de Beaune character towards a fuller, fleshier, smokier, black cherry Côte de Nuits style.
An important white grape in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley that has now found fame in New Zealand and now Chile. It thrives on the gravelly soils of Bordeaux and is blended with Sémillon to produce fresh, dry, crisp Bordeaux Blancs, as well as more prestigious Cru Classé White Graves.
It is also blended with Sémillon, though in lower proportions, to produce the great sweet wines of Sauternes. It performs well in the Loire Valley and particularly on the well-drained chalky soils found in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, where it produces bone dry, highly aromatic, racy wines, with grassy and sometimes smoky, gunflint-like nuances.
In New Zealand, Cloudy Bay in the 1980s began producing stunning Sauvignon Blanc wines with extraordinarily intense nettly, gooseberry, and asparagus fruit, that set Marlborough firmly on the world wine map. Today many producers are rivalling Cloudy Bay in terms of quality and Sauvignon Blanc is now New Zealand`s trademark grape.
It is now grown very successfully in Chile producing wines that are almost halfway between the Loire and New Zealand in terms of fruit character. After several false starts, many South African producers are now producing very good quality, rounded fruit-driven Sauvignon Blancs.
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The new dialled-back regime for Te Koko works brilliantly in 2019. Gone are the overt tropical flavours, replaced with a vibrant nose of green apple, peach and nettle – framed with soft spice from the oak ageing (there is now nine percent new oak, with much larger vessels used). The reduction of malolactic fermentation to 50% has imbued the wine with far better balance. The weight and texture are there, but don’t overwhelm. Delicious now, this will benefit from a couple of years in the cellar. Drink now to 2027.
Fergus Stewart, Private Client Manager, Berry Bros. & Rudd (Sep 2021)
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