A few days ago, we had a great discussion at our practice tasting of 4 Sauvignon Blanc. It was great because we focused on the clues in the glass to draw a picture of each wines as well as to reach a reasoned conclusion as to grape variety and origin. We did not simply taste like robot, trying to "tick the boxes" and get on with it. The discussion was so stimulating and enlightening that I now really look forward to our weekly WSET Diploma level tasting sessions.
So, see my notes below and my attempt at reaching proper conclusions from these clues and answer the questions:
- all 4 wines from same single grape, which one is it?
- for each, comment on quality & style
a= appearance; n= nose; p= palate; c=conclusion
a- pale lemon green with watery rim
n- forward, aromatic, medium + intensity pungency, ripe lemon, grapefruit, gooseberries, mid-range of aromatic spectrum
p- off-dry, high acidity, medium + alcohol, high body, medium intensity, pungent, citrus. balanced structure and fruit. medium length of after-taste.
a- pale lemon with watery rim
n- very ripe fruits, almost jammy, medium intensity pungency, ripe pineapple (thinned), hints of citrus, narrow spectrum of aromatics
p- dry, high acidity, high alcohol, high body, medium - intensity, ripe, juicy, jammy fruits. medium - length of after-taste.
a- medium - lemon with watery rim
n- forward, round, ripe fruits. medium - intensity pungency, grass, hints of white fruit, generally narrow spectrum of aromatics
p - dry, medium acidity, medium alcohol, medium + body, medium - intensity, ripe fruits, grassy, citrus. medium - length.
a- medium - lemon with green tints and watery rim
n- aromatic, restrained, mineral, medium + intensity, stony/smoky/flint, touch of white peach, citrus, hints of fresh grass, mid-spectrum of aromatics
p- dry, high acidity, medium alcohol, medium + intensity, juicy, mineral, hints of smoke, citrus and grass. touch acidic vs alcohol, medium + length
So what is the grape?
The strongest hints come from wine 1 and 4 which clearly present a wine made of an aromatic variety suggesting Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, or Viognier. The overall high acidity levels in wine 1, 2, and 4 points to Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. Off-dry notes in wine 1 can support Riesling. However, the general pungent aromatic quality of all 4 wines favors Sauvignon Blanc. The flintiness/smokiness of wine 4 and the clear gooseberry and grassy notes of wine 1, 3, and 4 strongly support and confirm Sauvignon Blanc.
Quality & Style of each wines?
Good quality with good aromatic definition, strong hints of variety and origin. However, its medium length and mid-range of aromatic spectrum position it in the good rather than very good category.
A well-made aromatic wine. Crisp & fresh for the mid-priced range category.
Acceptable quality lacking somewhat in fruit definition and clear hints of variety and origin. This conclusion is reinforced with a shortish length and narrow spectrum of aromatics.
A generic aromatic wine. Standard for the entry level price range category.
Acceptable quality lacking clear fruit definition. Slight hints of varieties and origin. Its shortish length and narrow aromatic spectrum reinforce its position and can not be considered in the good category.
A generic wine. Standard, crisp & fresh for the entry level price range category.
Very good quality with good complexity, good definition of fruit and strong hints of variety and origin. Its mid aromatic spectrum together with finesse and complexity supports this conclusion.
An aromatic wine with class. Crisp & fresh for the mid-price range category.
Wine 1 - Split Rock Sauvignon Blanc 2009 - Nelson, New Zealand
Wine 2 - Alta Tierra Sauvignon Blanc 2008 - Elqui Valley, Chile
Wine 3 - Laithwaite Sauvignon Blanc 2009 - Bordeaux, France
Wine 4 - Dme Gilles Cholet Pouilly-Fumé 2008 - Loire, France